HIGHLY-RATED midfielder, Blessing Sarupinda, is expected to leave the country this week to sign a contract with Portuguese third-tier side, Sporting Clube.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who has been on the books of CAPS United, is a product of the famed Aces Youth Soccer Academy.
AYSA officials, whose football development hub produced the likes of Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat, have always believed Sarupinda could be destined for Europe.
The plan is to get him into the third-tier side, where he won’t be under pressure to perform at a high level, from the word go, and where he can use the platform to showcase his talent.
He will be expected to be registered with the team, after he successfully passed his trails in the European country last year, before his progress was stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Green Machine used the links provided by their technical director, Roberto Landi, an Italian, to secure a trial stint for Sarupinda, which was successful.
The utility player, who can play as an attacking midfielder, rightback or winger, is expected to sign a long-term contract with Sporting Clube Olhanense.
CAPS United vice-president, Nhamo Tutisani, confirmed the developments and said they were happy the player has finally got his breakthrough.
“I think, as CAPS United, we are very happy that one of our players is getting an opportunity to join a European club, and that will help us in many ways,’’ said Tutisani.
“The relationship, which we will build, will go a long way and, as a team, we have already shifted focus to ensure that we run the club, as a commercial entity.
“The move means a lot to us, as it will help us generate revenue, and we hope it will open doors for many other players, within our ranks.
“We hope he is going to represent us well and be our ambassador there.’’
Makepekepe have embarked on a move to transform their club into a business entity, with the transfer of players, especially to Europe, a big part of that masterplan.
The Green Machine, who sealed a partnership with AYSA, where Sarupinda was nurtured, have also brought on board ZIFA Northern Region Division One side, Black Mambas, and Mt Pleasant High School, where players will be developed.
Nigel Munyati, the AYSA director, said the move was important in the process to help Sarupinda realise his full potential.
“I think it’s game on and, after sending several players to Europe, we are happy with the development and we wish him all the best,’’ said Munyati.
“Sarupinda is a versatile player, who can give any coach a solution, and we are certain that he will make it.
“After we had players like Martin Mapisa, Nicholas Guyo, Kundayi Mukweva, and many others, making it into the top leagues, there is no doubt that Sarupinda will be a star.’’
According to reports from Portugal, the midfielder, who impressed in the colours of the Green Machine in the 2019 season, was a wanted man at Sporting Clube, after doing well for a few days, before Covid-19 forced him to rush back home.
Two years ago, Warriors assistant coach, Lloyd Chitembwe, described Sarupinda as a real gem. Chitembwe was then in charge of the Green Machine and had converted the player, into a defensive midfielder, after his arrival from a stint at Black Rhinos.
“I am impressed by his attitude, and if he continues to develop in the same way he is doing right now, I can safely say we have a real, real talent on our hands,” said Chitembwe.
“It’s difficult to tell that he was an attacking player until he joined us.
“What makes me very happy, to work with the boy, is his mental attitude, the boy is down to earth, and is one boy who is very coachable and is so keen on taking instructions.
“He was playing a centre forward, at Black Rhinos, but we changed him to a defensive midfielder player because we felt that is the position that suits him well.
“Obviously, he is still developing but we like what we are seeing and hope for more.”