Pio: City's future in safe hands

HARARE - Harare City coach Mark Harrison is well aware of the pressures faced by young players when they make the step up from the reserves side to the first team.

The Briton usually prefers to shield emerging talented players away from the spotlight. However, recent performances by 21-year-old Tellmore Pio forced Harrison to change his thinking for now.

While Harrison usually prefers to integrate youngsters step by step, Pio has already made six starts while coming in as a substitute three times since his breakthrough into the Sunshine Boys’ first-team.

The pint-sized central midfielder made his debut for City in a league match against Bulawayo City at Barbourfields Stadium on July 14.

The Mbare-born midfielder has never looked back since then as he has managed to keep out the experienced City captain Tendai Samanja out of the team.

With his explosive performances, Pio has made in his short top flight career, Harrison is already tipping the midfielder to be an integral part of the Sunshine Boys’ future.

“He is a quiet boy, very determined and focused,” Harrison told the Daily News on Sunday.

“When you are a coach of a boy like that who has the talent, you are always cautious to put too much pressure on him and too high a level of expectation.

“But I must say ever since he started, he has made it very difficult for the technical team to leave him out of the match day squad.

“He is developing really well and will play an important role for this team in the future. I believe it is all in there, but also that I have a responsibility to nurture him and get him in the right development that will be vital.

“When you see him play, he has the qualities of somebody older.

Technically, he’s really good, and he’s also strong despite not being so tall.”

For someone of his age, Pio is full of energy and efficiency which makes it easy for him to win and retain possession in central midfield for the Sunshine Boys.

When in possession, he also keeps it very simple and his tenacity has resulted in teammates likening him to Chelsea midfield dynamo N’Golo Kanté.

Pio, however, insists he is unaware of comparisons to Kante but though admits he hopes to reach the same levels as France’s World Cup winner one day.

“To be honest I didn’t realise that! Kante is unbelievable; I am not at his level! I want to be closer someday. But he inspires me a lot.

He is short just like me and I learn a lot from him,” Pio revealed to the Daily News on Sunday.

Born on December 3, 1995, Pio’s football career started when he was still at Gwinyai Primary School in Mbare.

He went on to join the Dynamos junior ranks in 2008 before eventually leaving to enrol at Mbare Academy the following year.

Pio stayed at Mbare Academy until 2015 when he moved to Harare City Cubs.

He was part of the squad that took City Cubs into the Zifa Northern Region Division One after winning promotion from the Harare Division Two.

In the 2017 season in the second tier league, Pio was handed the armband to lead the City Cubs as the team managed to keep their place in the division.

At the start of the season, Pio was promoted to the first team after impressing Harrison and his technical team.

“I’m very grateful to coach Harrison and his technical team for having faith in me. I have learnt a lot from them. My game has since improved and I’m really grateful. I am enjoying my game a lot,” Pio said.

For him his next step is to get a chance to play outside the country.

“I hope I will be able to sign for a foreign club one day. I just want to keep on working hard and see what comes in the years to come,” he said.

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