Grace Chingoma Sports Reporter
WARRIORS midfielder Marvelous Nakamba was handed his first start for the senior team in a long time and the Netherlands-based player proved his full value when he covered every blade of grass before providing the killer pass that earned the team a penalty which opened the floodgates when Zimbabwe trounced Swaziland yesterday. A largely unknown quantity to many local football fans, the former Young Warriors midfielder made his senior debut as a second half substitute in the opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers match against Malawi last year.
But he chose the giant National Sports Stadium to announce his arrival at the grand stage with a superb performance yesterday after he was given the platform in front of the home crowd.
The midfielder, who turns out for Dutch top flight side Vitesse Arnhem, was a key member of the Under-20 national team which featured in COSAFA Championships in Botswana in 2011 alongside Kuda Mahachi, Denver Mukamba and Archieford Gutu.
In yesterday’s match Nakamba turned back the hands of time to his days at Bantu Rovers as he linked with his former teammate at the Bulawayo club and best friend Mahachi and they combined perfectly in the 51st minute when he set up the Golden Arrows winger who was then fouled by a Swaziland defender inside the box.
“With Mahachi, he is my friend on the field and off the field. I am always with him when it is off season and we always talk with each other. We came together from the junior level and played together. He is my friend outside football and we understand each other well,” Nakamba said.
Nakamba said the Warriors had motivated each other after they drew with Swaziland on Good Friday.
“After we drew 1-1 we sat down as a team and encouraged each other, all the players in camp especially the guys who were starting. We give credit to the players, everyone who was in the squad and we motivated each other, even those who were not playing they motivated the first team,” said Nakamba.
Nakamba said he is looking forward to become a regular member of the team as they knock on the 2017 tournament in Gabon.
“We want to go to Gabon we want to go to AFCON that is what we want. That is our goal and we will try our best to qualify.
“Representing the country is always a good feeling and it motivates us a lot to keep on trying our best for our clubs so that we can come and play for the national team.
“If I continue doing well for my team I am sure I would continue getting a call up and I would love to do that. “It is our goal to qualify for the Nations Cup and it is our dream for every player and we want to try our best to try and collect the points in each and every game we play whether we play at home or away” said Nakamba.
Defender Costa Nhamoinesu, who was also excited to score his debut goal for the senior team, said the move was practised during training.
The dreadlocked defender said they should just pick maximum points in the last two matches against Malawi and Guinea.
“This was something which was done in training, we saw them when we played away that they were not so good when defending the blind side and we worked on that in training and managed to get it right.
“We are not looking at the fact that we are on top of the log but we are looking to collect maximum points in each and every game that we play,” said Nhamoinesu.
Maritzburg striker Evans Rusike was also celebrating as he struck third goal for the Warriors squad having found his first against Comoros in a CHAN qualifier last year.
Rusike scored just after three minutes of action when he came in for Nyasha Mushekwi and said coach Callisto Pasuwa had brought him on to push the visitors who were showing signs of tiring.
“The coach told me that they are tired and said I should come in and increase some pressure on their defenders and said I can even manage to score and I am happy I managed to do that.
“I am hundred percent that we will qualify for the AFCON finals.
“I am happy whenever I play representing my team and today (yesterday) the excitement is even worse as I capped it with a goal,” said Rusike.
And young Marshal Mudehwe, who was handed a rare first start ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns Khama Billiat, said he could not believe it when he was told that he was going to start.
He said his surprise was behind some of the stuttering and jitterness especially with the final pass.
“I was happy to start though I was not prepared to start. In a team that is full of foreign-based players, I wasn’t expecting to start. I was surprised but I hope to improve with time,” Mudehwe said.