BY FORTUNE MBELE THE inaugural Marvelous Nakamba Foundation (MNF) Under-17 football tournament roars into life this morning at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, with eight teams from across the country taking part in the competition that is expected to draw a number of football enthusiasts.
The clubs are Highlanders, Ajax Hotspurs, Chicken Inn, Bulawayo City, Dynamos, Majesa Academy (Mutare) and Hwange Dynamo.
Some of the coaches participating in the competition have expressed optimism in winning the maiden tournament.
Highlanders are under the guidance of club legend Sizabantu Khoza, with all eyes on senior team prospect, 16-year-old attacking midfielder Prince Ndlovu.
“We want to win the tournament. The club has given us all the support and all the boys are ready and available. We are spoilt for choice for the squad that will compete,” Khoza said. “The boys are excited. For them, it is a good challenge that they are playing other boys from outside the city; it will give them that push. We don’t have any particular or special player.
The players complement each other and I believe teamwork will win us the tournament.” Visiting Dynamos are under the tutelage of former senior team head coach Lloyd “MaBlanyo” Chigowe, who has called for transparent vetting to curb age-cheating in the competition.
“It is going to be a tough tournament. I am hoping that the vetting exercise is going to be uniform and fair such that players or teams with the correct ages will play. We are up for the fight and hope that at the end of the day, the best team wins,” he said. Chigowe brings along some of his best players in Leon Gwatidzo, Almas Jebison, Shawan Sahumani and Douglas Zvotovengwa.
Chicken Inn are coached by another former top player, Nkosana Gumbo, who played for Zimbabwe Saints and AmaZulu, while Bulawayo City are coached by Bruce Tshuma and Ajax Hotspurs are under the tutelage of Gugulethu Dlomo.
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Highlanders kick off their Group A matches against Njube in a group that also contains Dynamos and Majesa.
The first Group B match pits Chicken Inn against Ajax Hotspurs which also features Bulawayo City and Hwange Dynamo.
The MNF will bring 50 pupils from the coal-mining district of Hwange to witness the tournament.
“Fifty pupils from Hwange district have been invited to the tournament as we hope this will be an opportunity to inspire their life skills choices,” the MNF said. Nakamba has expressed his desire to transform communities through sport.
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