BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
THE Warriors technical team is now banking on the government to give a special dispensation to England-born Zimbabwean striker Macauley Bonne, to enable him to feature for the senior national soccer team in the upcoming 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Egypt.
Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambga is battling to secure the services of Bonne, who plays for Leyton Orient for the biennial continental soccer showpiece scheduled for next month.
However, with amendments to the Zimbabwe Citizenship Bill, it means Bonne, who is a Zimbabwean by decent having been born in England to Zimbabwean parents, and holds a British passport, might have to renounce his British citizenship to be eligible to play for the Warriors.
The England-based star had submitted his application form for a Zimbabwean passport at the Zimbabwean embassy in London last month after choosing to play for Zimbabwe ahead of England.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mupandare yesterday said they were now pinning their hopes on the government to save the situation.
“It’s now a challenge. I don’t see any new players being able to make the squad for the African Cup of Nations because of the new amendments to the Citizenship Bill. We are now banking on the government to give a special privilege to the players so that they can play for their country,” Mupandare said.
Bonne, who has played for the Warriors before under former coach Kalisto Pasuwa and scored against Morocco, has been prolific for his English side, banging in 23 goals in 46 matches to help the team earn promotion into League Two.
Besides Bonne, Chidzambga has also been working to bring into the team Zimbabwean players dotted across Europe.
They include Andy Rinomhota, Adam Chicksen, Reiss Nelson and Kundai Benyu, among others.
There is, however, no problem for such players like Nottingham Forest star Tendayi Darikwa who secured his passport before the new Bill, and has been influential in the qualifiers to help Zimbabwe secure a ticket to the finals for the second successive time having played at the 2017 tournament in Gabon.
Wales-based Alec Mudimu and Leicester City’s Admiral Muskwe, born in Zimbabwe but grew up in the United Kingdom, also played a part in the qualifiers.
The Warriors, who have been given a target of reaching the knock-out stages of the tournament are scheduled to play the Super Eagles of Nigeria in an international friendly on June 8 in Lagos.
Zifa are also lining up more international friendlies for the team with neighbours South Africa and Morocco highly likely to be some of the teams the Warriors will face in a dress rehearsal for the tournament.
Zimbabwe has never gone beyond the group stage of Africa’s premier competition since they took part for the first time in Tunisia in 2004. For this year’s edition, they were drawn in the same group with African heavyweights Egypt, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They will get their campaign off with a clash against the hosts on June 21.
The Warriors’ provisional squad for the Afcon finals is expected to be announced in the coming seven days.