Under-23 star picks Zim over England

German’s VfB Lübeck midfielder Seth Patrick (second from left) in action for the Young Warriors at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Tuesday

BY HENRY MHARA

TEENAGE sensation Seth Patrick has indicated willingness to pursue his international career with Zimbabwe over England, his country of birth.

The 18-year-old, who plays for German’s VfB Lübeck Under-19, was born in England to Zimbabwean parents, so he is eligible to play for either the Warriors or the Three Lions.

Patrick was part of the Zimbabwe Under-23 side that defeated Mozambique 2-0 in the Africa Nations Cup qualifier second leg match at the National Sports Stadium on Tuesday, and the midfielder, who was wearing jersey number 14 was one of the outstanding players on the day, as the Young Warriors recorded a two-nil goal aggregate victory.

He also received special praise from coach Tonderai Ndiraya after he gave another excellent performance in the reverse fixture in Maputo last week.

Although he has featured for the Young Warriors squad, Patrick can still choose to pursue his senior international career with England.

Speaking to NewsDaySport after the match, the defensive midfielder said he has been impressed with what he saw in Zimbabwe and would want to play for the Warriors.

“Hopefully, I’m coming back for the next game. I can only be lucky enough to get another call-up to come and play for my country. This is all I want to do, to play for my country. It’s not my decision to make, but personally, I would love to play in this team and the senior team for my whole life,” Patrick said.

“This is the team I want to play for, 100%, the Zimbabwe team. I want to work hard in the training field, step by step … help beat the South African team, qualify for the Afcon and to the Olympics and hopefully, work even harder until I get into the senior team. That is the level I want to be in the end.”

Patrick was excited with the victory over Mozambique that saw the Young Warriors qualify to the final stage of the qualifiers where they will meet South Africa for a ticket to the Afcon finals set for Egypt in November.

“The feeling is great, we came here to win. We needed a result, especially, in front of our home crowd. Losing was not an option. We had to qualify, and I am happy everyone played their part. We won so it’s a great feeling. We can only get stronger.”

Patrick said he was integrating well with the rest of the team, despite the language barrier.

“My teammates are great, I respect all of them. They are a very good bunch of lads to work with. When it’s time to joke they joke around, but when it’s time to work, they work hard. All the new guys are gelling in very well. Some of the boys here speak Shona and some speak English, but they always make sure that all the messages are understood. Everyone tries to speak English most of the times, so that we understand each other better. They make sure that no-one is left out.”

Zimbabwe travel to South Africa on June 5 for the first leg, before hosting their neighbours four days later.

Patrick and his Young Warriors teammates were part of the capacity crowd that watched their seniors, the Warriors beat Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday to book their ticket to the Africa Cup of Nations finals this June. Zimbabwe won the match 2-0 and Patrick was impressed with how the Knowledge Musona-captained side went about their business.

“Same with us, they came with a game plan, did their job and everyone had a part to play to get the win. It was a professional performance, they got the goals that they needed to qualify in front of the home crowd. It’s a great inspiration for me and to be here to witness such was unbelievable. I have not seen anything like that in my whole life. The atmosphere was just amazing, so I just want to be on that pitch also in a year or so. It was a great inspiration, so well done to the boys and the senior team for the great results, and we should keep pushing and work hard.”

Patrick’s clubmate Shama Bako was also called up for the Young Warriors camp and they were part of the European-based contingent, including Matifadza Zata of Dundee United in Scotland, Reward Mwakona of Ards FC in Northern Ireland, Enrique Ndlovu, who is based in Slovakia and goalkeeper Martin Mapisa, who plays for Velez CF in Spain.

Zimbabwe is currently on a drive to convince foreign-based players with local parentage to play for the Warriors.

So far, they have managed to persuade Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa and Alec Mudimu, who play for Welsh side Cefn Druids – two players who played a crucial role in Zimbabwe’s latest qualification to the Afcon finals.

Other stars that Zimbabwe is pursuing include Adam Chicksen, Kundai Benyu, Macauley Bonne, Tristan Nydam and Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson.

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