WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza is looking to assemble a team dominated by Europe-based stars amid reports he has sounded out Everton defender Brendon Galloway (pictured) while talks with Burnley defender Tendai Darikwa have reached an advanced stage.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Mapeza, appointed interim coach to take charge of the team ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Liberia in Harare next month, believes Zimbabwe has great potential to make a mark in African football, but was being pegged back by failure to utilise talent dotted around the globe.
He has taken the first step to lure several footballers based in Europe to play for their motherland and Darikwa and Galloway headline the list of the players Mapeza wants for this campaign.
Team manager Wellington Mupandare confirmed they had begun talks with the players through their clubs. “We have written to the respective clubs to have our best players in Europe come and play for their country,” Mupandare said. “We are speaking with Darikwa and it is very promising because the player wants to come and play for Zimbabwe. The sticking issue, though, is around citizenship. Most of these players were born in England and it makes it difficult for them to obtain dual citizenship according to our Constitution. I have been to every office as we try to secure these players, but what I can say is that there is progress. We are engaging the relevant authorities to help us so that we can have all our best players for these qualifiers. As for Galloway, we have written to the club and now we are in the process of talking to the player.”
The Warriors team manager said they were also in talks with Macaulley Bonne, who plays for Colchester United in England, and several other young players including Spain-based Yasser Chapfika.
Mupandare said Mapeza wanted to know which players they would have managed to secure from Europe before coming up with a team that will do duty against Liberia.
“The full squad will be determined by which players we have managed to secure from Europe. At the moment, we are just working to try and secure these players,” said Mupandare.
Darikwa and Bonne have been previously called up to the national team and although Bonne heeded the call and played against Morocco under Kalisto Pasuwa, Darikwa did not turn up because of issues around his documentation.
The right-back told a Burnley newspaper early this year ahead of the Warriors’ participation at the 2017 Afcon in Gabon that he was keen to play for the Warriors in future.
“The door is definitely open. My dad’s from there (Zimbabwe), and I am very proud of my heritage. Maybe in the near future, it might happen,” he said.
“There was some contact for a few qualifiers, but there was a bit of trouble with passport issues because I was born in this country (England). The door is open for the future, but at the moment, my focus is on club football and I hope they can do well over there in the tournament,”
However, Galloway was born in Zimbabwe before he moved to the United Kingdom with his parents at the age of six and there should be no issues if the player agrees to play for his country.