WARRIORS and Yadah FC hotshot Leeroy Mavunga’s stock continues to rise as it emerged yesterday that the hugely-talented midfielder has been invited for trials by Portuguese Primeira Liga giants Benfica.
BY Henry Mhara
Just days after the 18-year-old sensation was handed his first senior national team call-up to play for Zimbabwe at the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament, which start in South Africa this weekend, NewsDaySport can reveal that Mavunga is set to leave for the European country next week.
The winger received his travel documents for the trip to Portugal yesterday afternoon.
He was left behind by the Warriors team, which left the country for Pretoria yesterday morning as he was still to receive his passport which had been taken to the Portuguese embassy for a visa.
However, he received the passport in the afternoon before rushing to the airport to join his Warriors teammates in South Africa.
He will be available for selection for Zimbabwe in their opening two group matches, on Monday and Wednesday, before leaving for Lisbon on Thursday.
Yadah FC chief executive officer Admire Mango confirmed the trials.
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“Yes, our player has been invited by Benfica and should be going next week and he will be there for a couple of weeks. He was initially scheduled to leave on Tuesday this week, but we postponed the trip so that he can have a chance to play for the national team at the Cosafa. We are very excited as a club to have our player invited by such a big club. It shows that as an institution we are doing something right, and we will continue to give these boys such opportunities. He has asked to play at Cosafa first and then travel to Benfica so Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Walter Magaya (Yadah owner) has agreed to the arrangement. We are grateful to the Prophet, who continues to support the community by giving people opportunities such as these,” Mango said.
Mavunga, an Under-20 star, has been brilliant for the promoted Yadah this season and his performances have been rewarded with a Warriors call-up. The invitation to Portugal also shows that foreign clubs are beginning to take notice of the hugely gifted player.
He will be accompanied to Portugal by Yadah officials as he seeks to impress the Lisbon giants and follow in the footsteps of fellow Warriors stars such as Knowledge Musona, Costa Nhamoinesu and Marvellous Nakamba, who are making waves in Europe.
If he makes the grade, he will be one of the few Zimbabwean players to play for a big European club.
Benfica are the most successful Portuguese club in terms of both domestic (78) and overall titles (80) — and are the only ones to have won all national competitions.
They are the current Portuguese champions, and have won a record 36 Primeira Liga titles.
Internationally, Benfica won two consecutive European Cup titles, in 1961 and 1962, a unique feat in Portuguese football. In addition, they were runners-up in the Intercontinental Cup in 1961 and ’62, the European Cup in 1963, ’65, ’68, ’88 and ’90, and in the Uefa Cup/Europa League in 1983, 2013 and ’14.
They have reached 10 European finals, which is a domestic record, and in 2014 were ranked seventh all-time among Uefa clubs.