BY HENRY MHARA
MACAULEY Bonne is set to begin his international career with Zimbabwe as he is expected to get his Zimbabwean passport today, which will enable him to feature for the Warriors when they begin their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign next week.
The Charlton Athletic striker has been included in the 24-man squad called into camp for two Afcon Group H qualifying matches against neighbours Botswana and Zambia.
The group also has African champions Algeria, who Zimbabwe will face next year. Top two teams from the group will qualify for the Afcon finals set for Cameroon in 2021.
Bonne has played once for Zimbabwe in a friendly fixture, and there were fears that he could consider to play for England, his country of birth, after facing challenges in obtaining a Zimbabwean passport ahead of this year’s Afcon finals.
He is one of four players born in Europe, together with Jordan Zemura, Adam Chicken and Cliff Moyo, who applied for Zimbabwean passports last week ahead of the two Afcon fixtures.
It emerged yesterday that the passports for the quartet will be ready today.
However, it is Bonne and Moyo of lower league side Kidderminister Harriers in England who have made it to the 24-man squad, with Zemura of Bournemouth and Chicksen, who plays for championship side Bolton Wanderers, having been dropped.
Bonne has been in impressive form in front of goal since breaking into the Charlton Athletic
team, scoring five goals in seven games.
The 24-year-old has spoken publicly about his desire to play for Zimbabwe, his parents’ homeland.
Warriors coach Joey Antipas initially named a 32-man provisional squad for camp, but was forced to trim it to 24 after Zifa decided to reduce the number to cut costs.
This has seen some of the big names chalked out, such as Evans Rusike.
Douglas Nyaupembe of Stockport City has also been dropped while Swansea’s teenage sensation Tivonge Rushesha and Jonah Fabisch, all born in Europe, had already pulled out of the provisional squad.
Spain-based 19-year-old Martin Mapisa has reportedly excused himself and has been replaced by Talbert Shumba. The veteran Chapungu goalkeeper will fight for a place in the team with Elvis Chipezeze and Simbarashe Chinani of Dynamos.
Leicester City’s Admiral Muskwe has also been dropped from the squad. Muskwe, who plays for the English Premiership side’s developmental team, also failed to make the grade for the squad that went to the Afcon finals in Egypt early this year. Caps United winger Phineas Bamusi did not measure up too.
Antipas has decided to pick the team’s mainstay in the final 24 squad for the two matches.
Headlining the list is man of the moment Marvellous Nakamba of Aston Villa who is making a return to the team after missing the Warriors’ 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifiers against Somalia in August.
Other seniors who missed the tie, but have been recalled are captain Knowledge Musona, Tinotenda Kadewere and Ronald Pfumbidzai.
Zimbabwe host Botswana at the National Sports Stadium on Friday next week. The match, which had initially been scheduled for Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, before being moved to the capital due to floodlight concerns, will kick-off at 6pm.
The Warriors will then travel to Zambia for their second group qualifying match four days later.
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka), Simbarashe Chinani (Dynamos), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)
Defenders: Ian Nekati (ZPC Kariba), Cliff Moyo (Kidderminister Harriers), Divine Lunga (Golden Arrows), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Teenage Hadebe (Yeni Malatyaspor), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids), Partson Jaure (Manica Diamonds), Kelvin Moyo (Chippa United)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United), Butholezwe Ncube (Amazulu), Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Prince Dube (Highlanders), Knowledge Musona (Anderlecht), Tinotenda Kadewere (Le Havre AC), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows), Macauley Bonne (Charlton Athletic).