HomeSliderNadolo ready for Algeria

Nadolo ready for Algeria

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BY HENRY MHARA

DYNAMOS star King Nadolo might not have played any competitive match this year after the start of the local league was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the stylish attacking midfielder feels he is fit enough to play a major role in the Warriors’ epic battle against Algeria next week.

The former Highlanders and TelOne attacker was one of the major surprising inclusions in the 24-man squad announced by Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušić on Sunday for the back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group H qualifiers against the African champions.

Zimbabwe travel to Algiers for the first leg on Thursday next week, before hosting the Desert Foxes at the National Sports Stadium four days later.

Logarušić selected most of the players that have been playing regularly for the team in recent matches, for what would be his first competitive match in charge of the squad.

However, he was forced to explain the inclusion of Nadolo, who was picked for his first senior national team cap.

Another inclusion whose selection also raised dust was the team’s vice-captain Ovidy Karuru, who was also selected despite not being attached to any club at the moment.

Karuru is clubless after leaving South African league side Stellenbosch at the end of last season.

Nadolo is not fazed though. He believes he is fit to compete as he has been following individual training regiments given to him by his club as well as private trainer.

Nadolo hired the services of a Warriors physical trainer to train him to keep shape.

“I’m fit since I have been working hard. I got training programmes from Dynamos which I have been following religiously. I also have personal trainers I have been working with, so I feel fit and ready,” he said.

When most local players would be expected to be rusty after such a long lay-off, Nadolo looked sharp when he came as a second half substitute in a friendly against Malawi late last month, a performance that convinced Logarušić to include him in this squad.

Nadolo was one of the locally-based players picked to fill in places in the team for the trip to Blantyre after some foreign-based stars failed to pitch up. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

“I feel blessed to be included in the team. I’m happy. I’m also thankful to the Almighty,” he said.

Insiders say so impressed was the coach that he picked Nadolo for praise in the dressing room after the match against Malawi.

“He didn’t say much,” Nadolo said of his meeting with the coach. “He told me to keep it up, keep working hard and to keep my head down.”

Impressing against Malawi and getting selected into the provisional squad is one thing, but tying down a place in the starting line up is yet another.

Nadolo will be up against an array of stars and experienced players in the Warriors midfield department including the team’s poster boy Khama Billiat and skipper Knowledge Musona, who has been playing behind the strikers in recent games, for both the national team and his Belgian club.

“I’m ready to compete against all of them for a place in the team and also learn from them,” Nadolo said.

Speaking at a Press conference after announcing the squad, Logarušić said he picked Nadolo with one eye on the African Nations Championships (Chan) finals. The competition, reserved for locally-based only will be staged in January next year having been postponed at the start of this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have King Nadolo there because we also have the Chan and those boys should be comfortable to avoid them relaxing. We must give them a chance,” Logarušić said.

Besides Nadolo, the only other locally-based player who made it into the squad is goalkeeper Talbert Shumba.

There were also first senior national team call ups for the England-based duo of defenders Jordan Zemura and Adam Chicksen. United States-based defender Tendai Jirira has also been called for the first team, while David Moyo who plays in Scotland will be looking to make his competitive game for the Warriors having only featured in a friendly match before.

Zimbabwe are second in Group H with four points, two behind their next opponents after two rounds of matches. Botswana with one point are third while Zambia anchor the group with zero points. Two top teams from the group will qualify for the finals next year.

Warriors squad

Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze, Talbert Shumba, Tatenda Mukuruva

Defenders: Jimmy Dzingai, Alec Mudimu, Jordan Zemura, Teenage Hadebe, Tendai Jirira, Divine Lunga, Tendai Darikwa, Adam Chicksen

Mid­fielders: Marshall Munetsi, Ovidy Karuru, Butholezwe Ncube, Tafadzwa Rusike, Kuda Mahachi, Knowledge Musona, Terrence Dzvukamanja, King Nadolo, Marvellous Nakamba, Khama Billiart

Strikers: Tino Kadewere, David Moyo, Prince Dube

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