Albert Marufu in LONDON, England
ZIMBABWE and Nottingham Forest defender, Tendayi Darikwa, says he wants to put behind him a disappointing season with his club as he turns his attention to his first major international tournament at the 2019 AFCON finals.
Darikwa, born in England but who qualified to play for Zimbabwe through his father Tim, is part of coach Sunday Chidzambwa’s Warriors for this year’s continental football jamboree.
The defender, who last month celebrated the birth of his second son with partner Charlotte, has earned four caps for Zimbabwe.
Coached by two big names in the game, Martin O’Neill and former Manchester United captain Roy Keane, Forest failed to challenge for promotion with some inconsistent performances.
“It has been a very disappointing season for us as we even failed to qualify the play-offs,’’ he told The Herald.
“We hope for better fortunes next season.
“He (Keane) is a very good coach and always pushing us to do well. He is always there to offer advice.
“It is always good to learn from people like him. He captained Manchester United and won so many things with the club. I am learning a lot from him and it is my hope that we do well next season.’’
Darikwa said his experience will come in handy at the AFCON finals in Egypt.
“Playing at the AFCON finals is something that I will always cherish and my partner Charlotte, who is my number one fan, will be there with the kids — Theo (3) and Noah (one-month-old).
“My dad is also trying to see if he can get time off work to be in Egypt. I hope to do them proud by helping the team, at least, go beyond the group stage.
“This means a lot to us.”
Darikwa said playing at AFCON with Zimbabwe was a dream come true for him after encountering glitches on his first attempt to represent his fatherland.
He also laughed off at reports that Ugandan coach, Sebastien Desabre, described Zimbabwe as the group’s whipping boys at AFCON.
“If it is true that he said that we are the weakest team in the group, then I think he was not following us in the qualifiers.
“We were in the same qualifying group as DR Congo and managed to beat them.
“So, where is he getting all that? However, we are not worried about other teams. Me and my teammates have so much belief in ourselves.
“Egypt have quite a number of good players, but if we play as a team, we can beat any opponent.
“If we can go past the group stages, then who knows what can happen?”
Darikwa is expected to fly out to Zimbabwe tomorrow to join the rest of the Warriors squad at their training camp.