We can do a Leicester - Nakamba

HARARE - Hard work trumps talent.

That’s what Warriors midfielder Marvellous Nakamba is taking from Leicester City’s incredible and improbable run to become champions of the English Premier League.

Claudio Ranieri’s side caused one of the biggest upsets in English football history when they claimed the title just a year after finishing six points above the relegation zone.

They started the 2015/16 season with 5000-to-1 odds to win the title. And it’s probably understandable given Leicester City barely had any big-name players with one of the lowest salaries in the league.

But they defied the odds and went on to be crowned English Premier League champions, the first club outside of London or Manchester to win the title since 1995. No wonder many went on to call it one of the greatest sports stories of all time.

Leicester City’s story resonates well with the Warriors at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after Kalisto Pasuwa’s charges were pooled in a tough Group B for the tournament alongside African heavyweights Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia.

Just like Leicester City before the start of the 2015/16, the Warriors are the definite underdogs and some would like to call them the punching bags of the group as all their opponents boast of world class players who ply their trade in some of the best leagues in Europe.

However, Nakamba, who plies his trade for Netherlands side Vitesse, feels the Warriors can re-write their own piece of history by drawing inspiration from English Premier League champions Leicester City at next year’s Afcon finals to be held in Gabon.

“It’s always like that in life. Who thought Leicester City will be champions in English Premiership?” queried Nakamba.

“In football anything is possible so we will try our best. Just looking at our opponents it’s not a secret that we are the underdogs but football is played on the field of play. We need to take some inspiration from Leicester City’s story that nothing is impossible.”    

In their ranks Algeria have such talents like Leicester City stars Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani as well as  Schalke 04 midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, Aissa Mandi  of Real Betis in Spain, FC Porto star Yacine Brahimi among others.

Senegal boasts of such talent like Liverpool forward Sadio Mane who has made an impressive start at Anfield since joining the club in the summer from Southampton. They also have Stoke City striker Mame Biram Diouf, exciting Lazio striker Diao Balde Keita among a host of stars.  

Tunisia have in their ranks players like Wahbi Khazri who plays for Sunderland in England, Aymen Abdennour of Valencia in Spain as well as Larry Azzouni of Nimes in France among other stars.

“We just need to go there believing in ourselves. We have played against the best players also so it will not be our first time there,” added Nakamba.

“The fact that we have qualified to be there means we can compete with the best also. I believe we are a special group of players with a lot of potential. I believe if you are willing to roll your sleeves up and work as hard as you possibly can, sometimes that outdoes individual talent.”

The Warriors will this afternoon face Tanzania in an international friendly match at the National Sports Stadium as they continue preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations. Nakamba feels this is a good opportunity for the team to fine tune before the tournament starts next year.

“This is a good opportunity for us as players to play in this friendly match preparing for the 2017 Afcon,” Nakamba said.

“It actually feels good being together as players. We have taken each and every game seriously and this one is not an exception. As professionals we always try to give our best whenever we are given the chance to play.”

The Warriors definitely need all the help they can get to prepare to square up against these aristocrats of African football.

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