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Zimbabwe UK Young Warriors ready to defend title

04/07/2017 00:00:00
by Own Correspondent
 
Keen to play for Zimbabwe Warriros ... Kundai Benyun recently signed for Scottish giants Celtic
 
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ZIMBABWE United Kingdom (UK) ‘Young Warriors’ will be seeking to make history by being the first team to retain the African Nations Cup UK Under 17 youth tournament which kicked off this past weekend.

The Young Warriors, who are being sponsored by Cassava Remit, Green Shoot, Senditoo, and Flexi Coventry Ltd will face Angola and special guests Brazil in this year’s edition of the tournament which also includes Ivory Coast, Ghana and Morocco among others.

The English Football Association-sanctioned tournament which will include 28 nations participating at junior and senior levels stated last weekend at Hackney Mashes East Homerton Road London E9 5PF. The finals will take place on the 15th of July 2017 at The New River Sports & Fitness Centre in White Hart Lane Wood Green N22 5QW.

Last year the Young Warriors lifted the trophy, edging out Morocco after a penalty shootout. The team’s head coach, Trevor Mazhande, is confident that his boys will do well this year despite the pressure of being defending champions.

Mazhande, who is also the head coach of premier league outfit West Bromwich Albion’s Under 15 team, said preparations went according to plan and the recent victory in the GreenShoot Under 17 Tournament in Leeds was a major confidence boost ahead of the tournament.

Players to watch in the team are Leicester FC’s Cosmas Maphosa, Simbarashe Mdiyanyama of Coventry City and former Friendly Academy FC’s Tinotenda Masenda who is now playing for Welsh side Tiger Bay FC.

The Zimbabwe Diaspora Football development initiative is fronted by Team Zimbabwe UK who are also working closely with ZIFA to nurture players from the Diaspora who can represent Zimbabwe in future.

Team Zimbabwe UK Chief Executive Officer, Marshal Gore, who is also the chairman of the African Football Association, the organisation that runs the tournament, said; “The tournament presents a good opportunity to assess the progress of our team whose composition includes many academy players from top English premier league clubs.”

Gore added that the tournament presents an opportunity for the coach to select some players that can be seconded to Zimbabwe National Under 17 Coach Moses Chunga for selection ahead of the COSAFA Under 17 tournament which is slated for Mauritius later this year.



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Chunga has expressed willingness to accept players from the diaspora in his team as he seeks to cast the net wider.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe UK senior team’s coach Kelvin Mushambi has revealed that former Manchester City age group player, Tino Chibharo, has been included in the Zimbabwe team that will take part in this year’s edition of the tournament. Chibharo is now on the books of Kilmarnock FC and is set for greener pastures this summer.

Chibharo joins a team that includes last year’s Top Goal Scorer Tendai Chitiza, who is now on the books of Serbian First Division side FK ČSK Pivara. Chitiza was scouted at last year’s edition of the tournament. Other players to look out for in the Zimbabwe side are the Nothampton Town FC duo of Shama Bako and Seth Patrick.

Team Zimbabwe Chairman and former Zimbabwe Warriors striker, Liberty Masunda, said the project is beginning to yield results by providing ZIFA with access to new talent in the Diaspora which has been long neglected.

The tournament comes at a time when one of its established diaspora talent Kundai Benyu has joined Scottish giants Celtic Football club from Ipswich Town.

Gore said Benyu’s story is a good example of why ZIFA should continue to engage and work with Diaspora football structures. Benyu has indicated that he wants to play for Zimbabwe, the country of his birth.

Team Zimbabwe UK also expressed their gratitude to the Diaspora sponsors who supported the team this year, namely Green-Shoot Specialised Care Services Ltd, EcoCash-Cassava Remit and to partners Bhora Africa and Virtual Media Technology. 


 
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