Heroes' welcome for Bonne, Darikwa, Muskwe

HARARE - After a long wait, United Kingdom-based stars Macauley Bonne, Admiral Muskwe, Kundai Benyu and Tendayi Darikwa finally arrived in the country yesterday and pledged their allegiance to Zimbabwe.

All the four players were born in England to Zimbabwean parents and are now set to become future Warriors stars.

Multitudes of fans turned up at the Harare International Airport to welcome Muskwe, Darikwa and Bonne, who touched down shortly after midday.

There was singing, dancing and ululating as the Warriors fans led by Chris “Romario” Musekiwa welcomed the trio. Benyu jetted into the country later in the day to join the rest of his new Warriors teammates.  

Bonne, who plays for Leyton Orient in the England National League, had represented the Zimbabwe Under-23 side in an international friendly and scored against Morocco way back in 2014.

However, he has not been able to play for the African side ever since due to complications with his passport.

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Since 2010, Darikwa, who is on the books of English Championship side Nottingham Forrest, has always reiterated his desire to play for Zimbabwe but just like Bonne also faced hurdles securing a Zimbabwean passport.

Benyu, who joined Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic this year, and Leicester City’s Muskwe are some of the young prospects in the UK at the moment and represent a major coup for Zimbabwe by getting them to represent the Warriors.

The quartet is likely to be given their full Warriors debuts this week when the side takes on Lesotho tomorrow in Maseru and Namibia on Saturday in Windhoek.

Zimbabwe is using the two friendly matches in order to prepare for next year’s crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifiers.

The quartet is now expected to play a leading role in this qualification campaign as the Warriors seek to make it back-to-back Afcon appearances.

Bonne was pretty chuffed having finally arrived in his home country for the first time.

“I have waited for a long while to be here and I’m happy to be here to play,” the Os forward said.

“I wasn’t expecting such a welcome. In England when I walk down the road nobody asks ‘Who’s that? Who’s that?’ but after a welcome like this, I’m starting to think I should be coming here every week,” the 22-year-old said.

“Expect to see a player of high standards; I want to win both matches and score some goals. I’ve been in good form for my club this season and If I can do that for Leyton I hope I can do it for Zimbabwe.”

Darikwa was also pleased with having finally fulfilled his dream to play for Zimbabwe.

“I’ve come here to win; this is the first time I’ll be meeting my new teammates and hopefully we can go to Lesotho and Namibia to get a couple of wins to give us confidence for the games in March,” the 26-year-old defender said.

“This is a proud moment for me and a proud moment for my family. I loved the way the guys welcomed me and hopefully I can show something special when I play for the Warriors. I wasn’t expecting any of this and I’m grateful to the fans.”

Muskwe, who plays for the Foxes’ Under-23 side, said: “It’s a great honour for me personally and my family. Hopefully, this will be the first of many call ups in the future.

“The welcome from the fans was very warming and probably what we expected but it just shows the support we have back home. We just need to keep on pushing and hopefully we can deliver for the senior team.”

Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare was ecstatic that the quartet had finally joined the team after many years of back and forth negotiations.

“I’m more than impressed because it has been a big fight to bring these boys home and I would like to thank the Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa and Marshal Gore for the help,” he said.

“It has not been easy but the four boys are here and hopefully in March we will be able to call up more players because we have got more than 60 talented Zimbabweans playing outside our borders.

“This will help us have a formidable team for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and the 2019 Afcon qualifiers.”     

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