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Despite stadium ban Zimbabwe have plenty of reasons to be cheerful ahead of AFCON 2021

by Staff Writer
20 Mar 2020 at 13:41hrs | Views
Playing all of your Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches on international soil is an annoyance, rather than a hurdle that cannot be overcome. That is the message that Zimbabwe head coach Zdravko Logarušić must get across to his players in the midst of the battle to qualify for the 33rd edition of the competition in Cameroon next year.

Two games into their campaign, the Warriors find themselves unbeaten following a 0-0 draw with Botswana and a 2-1 win over Zambia courtesy of Khama Billiat's brace. The situation has been complicated by the decision of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to ban Zimbabwe from hosting international matches until the standards of safety in three main stadiums – the National Sports Stadium, Barbourfields and Mandava - have been improved.

That means that the Zimbabwean FA (Zifa) will need to lobby the government and its local councils to invest in the facilities, although with the current economic situation that is looking highly unlikely.

The outcome is that AFCON qualification matches against Algeria (March 31) and Zambia (September 8) may have to be hosted by South Africa, which will cost Zifa money and also lose the team the advantages that playing on home soil bring.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that, from a purely footballing perspective, fans of the national team have plenty of reasons to be positive given the current form of many of the squad at club level.

Marvelous News Indeed

One of the Zimbabwean players that is really making waves at the moment is Marvelous Nakamba.
The 26-year-old has followed in the footsteps of the legendary Peter Ndlovu by moving to the West Midlands in England, where he now plies his trade for the Premier League team Aston Villa.

Born in Hwange, Nakamba has played in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, but the move to the Villains is undoubtedly the biggest of his career so far. He's already started in midfield 17 times in the 2019/20 campaign, and featured in Villa's heartbreaking defeat in the final of the Carabao Cup against Manchester City.

But the key here is that he is playing against top level opposition week in, week out, and that can only be good for his game and for the Zimbabwe national team when he brings that experience into the camp. It's always welcome when Zimbabwean players spread their wings in Europe because, ultimately, it is good for the sport at home too.

Take Marshall Munetsi, for example. He was playing for the Orlando Pirates in South Africa when French team Reims came knocking on the door.

And the 23-year-old has taken his opportunity with both hands, featuring 16 times in Ligue 1 with Reims currently in fifth place in the league table.

With Munetsi and Nakamba in midfield, Zimbabwe look so strong in that department and they will expect to do better at AFCON 2021 than they did in the last edition. Indeed, they might even be considered dark horses to go a long way in the tournament, and that is something you will be able to confirm in the football betting online when the Africa Cup of Nations odds are released.

Admiral Sailing On Course
Of all the young Zimbabwean players around the world, none quite captures the excitement in the same way as Admiral Muskwe. The 21-year-old is developing rather nicely at Leicester City, who could well be playing Champions League football next season.

A graduate of the club's academy system, Muskwe was voted player of the year in the youth ranks thanks to a goal-laden season, and he has now been moved on loan to Swindon Town where he can sharpen his skills even further.

What is interesting is that he has chosen to play international football for Zimbabwe. Born in Harare, Muskwe actually qualifies to play for England too based upon his residency there and represented the Three Lions at Under-17 level.

But he has followed his heart and will play for The Warriors at the senior level, and for a quick striker with an eye for goal that is a tremendous bonus for Logarušić. Ahead of AFCON 2021, his squad is taking shape very nicely.

Source - Byo24News

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