By Kevin Mapasure
The Warriors technical team have ramped up their pursuit of Arsenal striker Riess Nelson with a view of taking him to the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Armed with a ticket to the finals of the continental showcase, the technical team are hoping that they can entice the forward, who is on loan to Germany Bundesliga side Hoffenheim.
Team manager Wellington Mupandare, who has been leading the charge of luring diaspora-based players with Zimbabwean links, said their limitation has been the lack of direct contact with the player.
The 19-year-old has scored six goals during his loan spell at Hoffenheim so far, having made 18 appearances and has also played Uefa Champions League football this term.
Zimbabwe is aware that convincing the player, who has already featured for England juniors, might be difficult, but they are willing to try anyway.
Nelson was born in London to a Zimbabwean father and a British mother.
“We are chasing after Nelson, but it’s very difficult to get into direct contact with some of these players abroad,” Mupandare said.
“Even getting the contacts of his manager is proving difficult. Going through either Arsenal or Hoffenheim will not help either. So I have assigned some people to try and go and see him at Hoffenheim.”
He said they were trying a number of other avenues to link up with Nelson and try to entice him to come and play for Zimbabwe.
“There are other players that are running around to try and sort out their documents so that they can be eligible, and if they succeed, it will give us more depth,” Mupandare said.
With a number of young English talent breaking into the Three Lions under Gareth Southgate, Nelson might fancy his chances to follow in the footsteps of, among others, Jordan Sancho of Borussia Dortmund as well as Cullum Hudson Odoi of Chelsea.
Last year, Southgate spoke of his admiration of Nelson.
“We really like Reiss,” Southgate told Evening Standard Sport.
“He came and trained with us in September. He is doing okay with Hoffenheim and we think that he and some other players in the Under-21s have got big futures. He always impressed me in the match time he got at Arsenal. He always had a really good impact whenever he played.
“I always liked his personality on the field and he is one of a number of attacking players who will push for places in the coming years, but he is not the only one and it is important we keep pushing him.
“I don’t want him to be thinking that he has just got to roll up and he’s the next one, because there is really good competition for places.”