Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
MACAULEY BONNE has, for the first time, spoken of his disappointment to miss the 2019 African Cup of Nations football finals but says that huge setback hasn’t dashed his dreams to play for Zimbabwe.
The Charlton Athletic forward has been trying to regularise his papers to get a Zimbabwean passport to enable him to feature for the Warriors in the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers.
However, the process has taken longer than expected despite pleas by successive Warriors coaches for the inclusion of the England-based player.
Bonne has repeatedly been frustrated by the bureaucratic bottlenecks which saw him miss the Nations Cup finals where the Warriors shortcomings in attack were cruelly exposed.
He is one of the players caretaker coach Joey Antipas has earmarked ahead of the start of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Botswana’s Zebras next month.
Bonne told The Herald at the weekend that he is still fired up by the hunger to play for the Warriors.
“I am trying to come across, yes, to play,” he said.
“I have been waiting a long while to come and play again so hopefully I can be there.
“From what I’m hearing, yeah, there’s progress slowly happening, I can’t really push from my end being in England but I’m hoping all is being done to get this done.
“I was disappointed not to go to AFCON (finals in Egypt in June this year) but I’m young, there’s still many more opportunities for me to play in a big competition like that.
“I’ve always been ready, I’m literally waiting for somebody to say it’s done and, hopefully, I can help the country to success and play as many games as I can,” said Bonne.
Bonne scored in his first appearance in a Zimbabwean shirt in a friendly international against Morocco in 2014 where he impressed many observers with his industry upfront. He also featured for the national team in 2017 during away friendly matches against Lesotho and Namibia.
The Warriors have been short, in terms of the quality that can put the ball in the net, with over reliance on either Knowledge Musona or Khama Billiat.
And, when Musona arrived at the 2019 AFCON finals not entirely 100 percent fit, the team badly struggled for goals and scored just once in their three games.
Coach Antipas has already spoken about his desire to have Bonne and other diaspora-based players in his squad.
“We have very good players available for selection and my wish is for the authorities to sort out the papers of Macauley Bonne so that we can include him in our next squad.
“I have been following his progress and I can tell you that he is a very good player whom I think can add value to the team.
“If his papers are regularised, we will definitely have him in the team, we want to make competition for places very tight,” Antipas told the Herald in August when he was appointed the Warriors’ caretaker gaffer.
Antipas, who was in Lesotho yesterday with the local-based Warriors for the CHAN final qualifier against the tiny Mountain Kingdom, is expected to announce his squad for next month’s AFCON qualifiers early this week.
Zimbabwe will host Botswana on November 15 in an AFCON qualifier which is likely to be played at Barbourfields.
The national team will then make a short trip to Lusaka, Zambia, for another AFCON qualifier against Chipolopolo on November 19.
The Warriors are in Group H with AFCON champions Algeria and neighbours Zambia and Botswana.
The Zimbabwe squad is expected to include some of the players that missed last month’s World Cup preliminary qualifier against Somalia.
A host of players who featured at the AFCON finals in Egypt, including former skipper Musona and goalkeepers George Chigova and Edmore Sibanda, were overlooked for the tie against Somalia.
The Herald has also established that coach Antipas is likely to include about five players who were either born in the diaspora or went there as young kids and do not possess the Zimbabwean passport which is required in these competitive matches.
Antipas is not leaving anything to chance as he begins the journey to Cameroon.
The caretaker coach missed an opportunity to prepare for the qualifiers early this month when Zimbabwe missed the FIFA date reserved for friendly matches and he will have to make full use of the November dates which begin on November 11 to 19 to have his troops early in camp and prepare adequately for the two matches against Botswana and Zambia.