Herentals prepare for life after Tino Benza

Herentals teenage sensation Tinotenda Benza is set to miss the greater part of the Castle Premier Soccer League as he began his Europe quest where he has impressed at an academy in the past week.

The 18-year-old forward, fresh from a trial stint with United Kingdom-based Constantine Academy, touched down at Robert Mugabe International Airport on Wednesday evening amid a hero’s welcome where he was met by his father and teammate Innocent, his brothers, Tafadzwa and Tariro famous for their entertainment company MaBrothers as well as the clubs’ first team players, Division 1 and the girls’ soccer team.

It was a double celebration for the former Zimbabwe U17 international as he was earlier selected into the Tonderai Ndiraya-coached Young Warriors for the Africa Cup of Nations tie against Mozambique in Maputo on Friday.

“The experience was good… it was very technical; it’s different from here because you have to use more of your brains than your speed or anything. I’m going to be training there until I get a side. I just need to fill in some documents then I will be set to go. I think I’m going to be playing here a bit then I leave maybe half way into the season,” Tino said.

“It’s an amazing feeling (Zim U23 call-up) when I heard about it I was very excited…I rejoiced by myself but then I was travelling. I wasn’t expecting that, it means a lot, it gives me hope that I have a future and so forth…”

Tino and his father Innocent last year etched their names in the folklore of Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League history by becoming the first father-son nexus to play in the same team at the highest level of competition. Innocent,46, said his son’s departure for Europe is an opportunity for other players to front up and fill in his shoes.

“There’s something within our vision which is now coming out. We have Richard Hachiro who is in the senior men’s national team, it shows that we are a serious footballing family. We have Tino now being called into the national U23, at one point he was the captain of the U17, it shows that we are developing talent. 

The young boys and girls have also done well, we have Susan Nyama who was called into the Mighty Warriors and we have Frank Kuchineyi who was the goalkeeper of the national U20 team so rest assured that Herentals is a big footballing family,” Innocent said.

“He’s a young boy with an undoubted talent. At 14 he was already playing in Division 1 it’s only that publicity was not there. At 17 he was the youngest scorer in the premiership. At 18 he has been called to the Under 23. 

“It speaks volumes of what he’s capable of so it’s very good, it’s very promising. However, as the president of a football club, I’m not only looking at Tino. I’m happy for Tino as a father but as the president I’m also seeing that there’s a lot of opportunities for the other upcoming stars from Herentals.

“He’s going back, we have replacements. His departure for England is going to motivate other people, it creates an opportunity as people are going to be looking at Herentals Football Club. This is an opportunity for the rest of the team that once one goes the other will follow so they will be motivated and fortunately for us and unfortunately for our rivals, beware.”

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