I've come with an open mind: Gibbons

HARARE - West Bromwich Albion chief scout Paul Andre Gibbons, who jetted into the country yesterday, said he is confident of unearthing row Zimbabwean talent for the Barclays English Premier League.

Gibbons touched down at the Harare International Airport yesterday on a talent identification mission at Harare’s Manhingi Soccer Academy.

The former West Brom trainer will be in the country for two weeks at the invitation of the Glen View-based academy. Manhingi is renowned for producing former Prince Edward student Tinotenda Chibharo, who captains the Under-21 side of English Premiership champions Manchester City.

Another Premiership scout, West Ham’s Mike Miller, postponed his visit to Friday.

 “I’ve been invited by these guys (Manhingi) to take a look at the club as a consultant and see what we can do through this Cultural and Educational Exchange using soccer as a medium,” Gibbons told the Daily News upon arrival yesterday.

 “I have come to take a good look and maybe give an opportunity to one or two of these kids. It might be via the educational programme in America or professional leagues in Europe. We are talking of clubs in Spain, Eastern Europe, Scotland and England as well.”

Gibbons is on his first trip to Zimbabwe but has been involved in Southern Africa in the last three years, working with the South Africa and Botswana national teams.

 “It was a very easy decision to come to Zimbabwe; He (God) made it for me so I didn’t argue,” added Gibbons.

 “If I give one kid a chance that means there’s something good going in Zimbabwe, something good going in Harare and something very good going in Manhingi.”

 The United States-based talent spotter added that he was not “worried about what has happened in the past,” in an apparent reference to the Asiagate match-fixing scandal which rocked local football in recent times.

 “All I shall say is that I have come with an open mind. I’m not gonna be shocked by anything because I’m interested in these kids and the club,” he said.

 “If there’s something else going on in Zimbabwe, then that doesn’t interest me, it’s the kids that are close to my heart.”

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