Aston Villa and strike agreement with ZIFA
ENGLISH Premiership football team Aston Villa have struck a deal with Zifa that could see Marvelous midfielder Nakamba miss the Warriors’ home training camp and possibly fly straight to Cameroon for the Afcon 2021 tournament.
Nakamba, who is enjoying a new form under new manager Steven Gerrard, has been the mainstay of the Aston Villa midfielder in his last games.
Villa, who has since moved to the middle of the table after winning three of his last four games, with Nakamba being praised for his top-notch performances in all four matches.
And Gerrard now feels indispensable and would like to have him during the Christmas and New Years matches.
Zifa wanted him to return home when the Warriors start camp around December 23, ahead of the team’s scheduled departure to Cameroon a week later on December 29.
Zifa Managing Director responsible for National Teams Wellington Mpandare told our Harare office that Villa approached the association with a special request.
Mpandare, who is also the manager of the Warriors squad, said the English Premiership has indicated they want Nakamba’s services for Boxing Day’s game with Chelsea and for trips to Leeds and Brentford between 28 December and January 2.
“Villa has written to us asking for special favors regarding the release of Nakamba. They have asked Nakamba to stay with their team for their EPL games and then they will release him on January 3.
“We looked at the issue and weighed the pros and cons. The fact that he will play competitive football at this level means a lot.
“It’s because he’s doing well at the moment and we also want him to bring his best form to the national team. So we accepted their request and Marve (Nakamba) will join the camp a little later, ”Mpandare said.
Most Warriors players may not have time with their families for the Christmas break this year, as they are expected to start camp around December 23.
“We haven’t stopped planning. All logistics are taken care of, hotel reservations and airline ticket reservations.
“The original plan was to start camp earlier, around December 15th. But if you look at the schedule for the South African Premiership, where most of our players are based, most of the teams will be shutting down on December 22 for the Christmas holidays.
“Some have games on December 23. We can therefore only start the camp on December 23 or the next day, because the weather is not in our favor. “
The Warriors, however, are likely to face many challenges ahead of the tournament.
Currently, Zifa’s board, which is expected to lead preparations for the next campaign, is suspended.
The board has been suspended before appointing the coach to take on the national team at the tournament after Norman Mapeza’s short-term contract expired last month.
The leadership vacuum in the coaching department created problems for the preparations. Mapeza held the fort in the last four qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup following the dismissal of under-performing expatriate coach Zdravko Logarusic.
But he has since left the office to focus on his club duties at FC Platinum. However, the association submitted the name of Mapeza to CAF in the provisional delegation requested by CAF before the deadline of November 15.
There are high hopes that Mapeza will continue with the Cameroon squad despite the chaos leading up to their fifth tournament appearance.
Former Zimbabwe captain Benjani Mwaruwari is also expected to rebound in the fold. Zimbabwe must be in Cameroon at least by January 5, 2022, when CAF will start paying the bills of the participating teams.
Zifa was hoping to set up a training base in Cameroon or one of the neighboring countries of Central or West Africa, hoping to engage in friendly matches against some of the teams participating in the Afcon.
“That was the plan. Camping in Yaoundé seems better than in Bafoussam, where we will play our first two matches. But now it is impossible to conclude anything without the contribution of the coach.
“In the meantime, we are waiting for the appointments of the coaches while doing all the other necessary preparatory work,” Mpandare said.
Zimbabwe are in Group B of the tournament along with Malawi, Senegal and Guinea. The Warriors will play their first two group matches against Senegal and Malawi at the Kouekong stadium in Bafoussam on January 10 and 14.
Zimbabwe and Malawi will be staying at a hotel 70 km from the match venue, which Zifa and the Malawi Football Association said was not ideal for the players.
The Warriors will then be transferred to Yaoundé for the last group match against Guinea on January 18 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.