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Boost for Warriors team

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The Zimbabwe senior football team,the Warriors, yesterday received a major boost after the arrival of British-based stars of Tendai Darikwa, Admiral Muskwe and Macauley Bonne. The trio’s willingness to feature for the Warriors is not only a boost for the two scheduled friendlies but for the upcoming AFCON 2019 qualifiers.

BY HENRY MHARA

The British born trio came in for the Warriors’ two international friendly matches against Lesotho in Maseru tomorrow, and Namibia in Windhoek on Saturday where they are expected to make their debut for the senior team.

They arrived amid wild cheers from the Warriors fans who had gathered at the airport, a gesture that clearly took them by surprise.

But the visibly excited players immediately joined in the dancing and singing, with Bonne playing a leading role.

“It has been a long while to come over here and I’m happy to be here to play for Zimbabwe,” Bonne said. “I wasn’t expecting this kind of welcome, far from it. You get nothing like this in England. I was just coming to play, and to get a welcome like this, you kind like love to come and play here every week. Expect a performance of high standards from me, and I want to score goals for the team and myself.

The last and only time Bonne played for Zimbabwe was at the Under-23 level three years ago, where he scored the only goal when the Young Warriors fell 2-1 to a full-strength Morocco national team in a friendly match.

He wants to excel at the senior level. “Of course I’m confident with myself. I have been in good form for a couple of seasons and I’m happy with it so I want to do it here. I want everyone to be behind us and hopefully we can bring good results.”

Muskwe, who has been making waves in England, turning out for former league champions Leicester’s Under-23 side where he was named the team’s Academy Player of the Year at the club’s End of Season Awards last year, is also excited to be back home.

“It’s a great honour for me and my family. The welcome was very warming, which we least expected but it just shows the support which we have back home.”

When asked if he has been following Zimbabwean football and if he is familiar with his new Warriors teammates, Muskwe said, “Presently, I only know the boys I traveled with, but will get to know the others over the next few days. I have been following Zimbabwean football especially at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in January and also the past few games and now I am part of it, which is good. Hopefully I can bring goals to the team as well as wins,” Muskwe, who is fluent in Shona, said.

Tendayi Darikwa has previously failed to heed the Warriors call and was on record saying a former Zifa CEO asked him for a $5 000 “processing fee” for him to turn out for the Warriors.

He refused to discuss that episode, choosing to focus on the future. He also expressed his excitement to be finally given a chance to turn out for the Warriors, and immediately declared that the team will qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. “I have come here to win, I want to win. It’s my first time here so I’m hoping to go to Lesotho and Namibia and get wins. It will give us some confidence for the games in March. This is a proud moment for me and my family and the way you guys welcomed me, it’s nice to be here and hopefully I can show you the same passion when I play for the Warriors. I wasn’t expecting this reception but I’m happy and I appreciate the support from the fans and the media. We are going to the Afcon, we have to qualify and hopefully do better than what we did this year, and progress.”

The other British based player Kundai Benyu, who turns out for Scottish giants Celtic, was expected in the country last night, ahead of the team’s scheduled departure for Maseru this morning.

Tongai Mwenje

Tongai Mwenje is a Senior Editor with Zimbabwe's largest online sports magazine Sportbrief www.sportbrief.co.zw. He has been writing professionally since 2012 and currently writes for technology and sport blogs. He has vast experience in digital marketing, sports reporting and analysis. He is also a Sports and Technology columnist with Financial Gazette Online Sports Column and Technology Magazine respectively.

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