BY HENRY MHARA
THERE is a glimmer of hope for Zimbabwe on the availability of some of the foreign-born players that senior national soccer team coach Sunday Chidzambga intends to use for the Warriors’ Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifier against Congo Brazzaville next month, amid indications that Kelly Lunga and Macauley Bonne have committed to avail themselves for the crunch match.
Chidzambga is expected to name his squad next week for the decisive final Afcon qualifying match set for the National Sports Stadium on March 24.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mupandare — who leads the initiative to tap into talent emerging from the diaspora community — said England-born Bonne had promised to send his papers for processing, and could be available for the match against Congo Brazzaville.
The striker tops the list of the players born abroad that Chidzambga has publicly stated he is desperate to have in the team.
“I have been talking to the players and some of them have committed to play for Zimbabwe. My job is to compile a list of the players who are eligible to play for the team, process their documents so that they can secure Zimbabwean passports and then submit the list to coach Sunday Chidzambga for consideration and to make his decision on whether to select them or not. I had given the players until today (yesterday) as the deadline for them to submit their papers and give me their commitment,” Mupandare said.
“I have been talking to Macauley Bonne this week and he has promised to send his papers to our embassy in London. I’m now waiting on him, but as soon as he submits them, then they will be processed in no time.”
Bonne plays for National League club Leyton Orient, where he has scored 20 goals in two consecutive seasons.
His form that has seen him likened to England international and Leicester star forward Jamie Vardy, who also rose from the National League to flourish in the Premier League.
Bonne progressed through the Colchester United Academy, having previously spent six years with hometown club Ipswich Town, with a brief spell at Norwich City.
He has been scoring goals for fun in the past two seasons, and is now being linked with teams in the championship and the Premier League.
The highly-rated 23-year-old has already featured for the Warriors before in friendly matches, but he requires a Zimbabwe passport to play in competitive matches.
Mupandare also said the chances of Germany-born Lunga getting a Zimbabwean passport are also bright.
“It’s looking good for Lunga because he has an external birth certificate so the process of getting him naturalised is easy. I have been talking to him (Lunga) and his papers are in order. That one shouldn’t be a problem.”
Lunga plays as a winger for German Association Football team SV Rödinghausen, a club he joined in July 2017 from another association club, Bonner SC.
There was also an update on other Euro stars, including Adam Chicksen, who Mupandare said had submitted his papers, but the Department of Home Affairs is failing to secure his father’s identity documents, thereby delaying the process.
Mupandare also said he was still waiting on Tristan Nydam, who has committed to play for Zimbabwe.
But there is no good news on Reading’s Andy Rinomhota, who Mupandare said had put the prospects of playing for the Warriors on hold for the meantime.
Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa was the first Zimbabwean player born in England to secure a Zimbabwe passport last year and has played an integral part for the Warriors in the current Afcon qualifiers, where Chidzambga’s men need at least a point against Congo Brazzaville to secure a ticket to the Afcon finals, set for Egypt in June.