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Bright future for Zim football

Nyoni made his historic debut for Liverpool senior team in the Reds’ 3-0 win over Southampton in an FA Cup match played at Anfield at just 16 last month.

THE Zimbabwe Warriors finished as runners-up at the Four Nations tournament after a 3-1 loss to Kenya in the decider at Malawi's Bingu National Stadium last Tuesday.

It was a match that was supposed to be the dawn of a new era for Zimbabwe football after a number of England-born players turned up in show of allegiance to their country of origin.

Macauley Bonne made a return to the national team fold with a goal against Zambia while Leicester City's Tawanda Maswanhise made an impressive cameo and showed his dribbling wizardry.

It was expected that more players would get a chance to showcase their talent, but the second half of the final turned ugly with a red card for coach Norman Mapeza as well as defender Teenage Hadebe.

In the end Mapeza became the villain for not giving other players a chance to play.

However, in his post match interview Mapeza declared that Zimbabwe has a bright future.

"I just wish Zifa could keep the same group of players. I can see a very bright future for our football," he said.

 It appears that the Zifa could  normalisation committee has decided to tap into the vast talent in foreign lands for the country to make big strides on the international stage.

Standardsport looks at some of the players that could add value in the Warriors set up going into the future.

Tawanda Chirewa (Wolves)

The 20-year-old right winger was expected to be part of the team that took part in the Four Nations tournament, but requested to be excused to concentrate on his club Wolves.

Chirewa broke into the Wolves senior team this season and has made two Premier League appearances and is highly regarded by coach Gary O'Neil.

Isaac Mabaya (Liverpool)

The 19-year-old fullback is one of the bright prospects in English football and received a Warriors callup when the country was preparing for the World Cup qualifiers in November last year.

Mabaya did not turn up as he was reportedly recovering from an injury. The player has already represented England at junior level.

At the moment the Warriors are not strong at the right back position and that is where the Liverpool starlet plays.

Zimbabwe will surely try to tempt Chirewa for the World Cup qualifiers set for June this year.

Chirewa can add a creative edge to the Warriors' attack and could also be handy as a playmaker.

Panashe Madanha (Adelaide United, Australia)

Madanha is a 19-year-old Zimbabwe-born versatile winger, who plays for Adelaide United in the Australian A League.

On December 22, Madanha became the first Zimbabwean to play in the Australian topflight league when he featured for Adelaide United against Newcastle Jets when he was just 18.

He has made 16 appearances for Adelaide United and has featured four times for the Australia Under-20 team.

Madanha was born in Harare and moved to Australia with his family when he was four.

Thierry Katsukunya (Aston Villa Under-21)

The 18-year-old defender is  a regular starter for the Aston Villa Under-21 side. He joined Villa in 2021 from Coventry City.

Katsukunya also plays for the Wales junior teams and could be snatched by the European country.

Leon Chiwome (Aston Villa)

At 18, Chiwome is one of the rising young strikers in English football. Chiwome scored for the England Under-18 in their 2-1 win over Netherlands during this international window.

The starlet made his senior debut for Wolves in a quarterfinal defeat to Coventry City two weeks ago and played 30 minutes as a centre forward.

Last year, Chiwome was called-up by Baltemar Brito to the senior Zimbabwe national football team for FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifying matches against Rwanda and Nigeria.

Darlington Murasiranwa Valor FC

Murasiramwa is a 23-year-old goalkeeper, who plays for Valor FC in the Canadian Premier League.

He has 15 Canadian Premier League matches to his credit including 13 with FC Edmonton and two with Valour last season.

Murasiranwa moved to Canada in 2014 when he was 13.

Trey Nyoni (Liverpool) and Shim Mheuka (Chelsea)

Nyoni made his historic debut for Liverpool senior team in the Reds’ 3-0 win over Southampton in an FA Cup match played at Anfield at just 16 last month.

In the meantime he is part of the England Under18 squad.

Another prospect who has been making waves in English football is Chelsea's Shim Mheuka.

Playing as a forward, Mheuka has been scoring for fun for the Chelsea Under-18 side.

Like Nyoni, he is just 16 and it may be too soon for him to consider playing for Zimbabwe.

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