Nakamba Disappointed To Miss Warriors’ AFCON Qualifiers

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By Sports Reporter

ASTON Villa manager Dean Smith has revealed that Warriors star is disappointed to miss Zimbabwe’s crucial African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia next month.

Smith early this week blocked Nakamba together with Argentinean goalkeeper Emi Martinez and Brazilian international Douglas Luiz from representing their countries at the end of the month due to tighter Covid regulations implemented by the British government.

The Villa boss said he sat down with the trio to explain the decision made by the club, who according to new regulations in light of the Covid-19 pandemic have the right to prevent their players representing their countries.

“I’ve sat down with all three of them and it’s our right to stop them from travelling to a red-list zone,” he said. “They’re disappointed because they want to represent their countries but they understand as well,” Smith said.

“I’m pretty sure all Premier League teams will stop players from going to red-list zones where they’re required to self-isolate for 10 days in a hotel when they get back. All three players are aware of Aston Villa’s stance on travelling to a red-list zone.”

Smith added: “At the end of the day, the football clubs are the wage payers to these players and we’ve never stood in the way and we’ve always celebrated players being international footballers.

“We will continue to do so but, such is the world is at the moment when FIFA and UEFA are telling you that you don’t have to allow your players to go to red-list zones then it’s only right to take them up on that.”

The trio of Martinez, Luiz and Nakamba were in line to be called up by Argentina, Brazil and Zimbabwe respectively but, knowing those countries are among the UK’s red-list, Villa have stopped them from doing so.

The countries are amongst a list of 32 which have had travel bans placed on them by the British government. It means if people travel to and from those red-listed countries then each person will have to self-isolate at an airport hotel for 10 days upon their arrival.

It means Nakamba, Martinez and Douglas would likely miss Villa’s Premier League fixture against Fulham after the international break on April 3.

Nakamba was initially called up with Zimbabwe in African Cup of Nations action against Botswana (March 25) and Zambia (March 29).

Douglas and Martinez, meanwhile, were expected to be selected by Brazil and Argentina once more with the two nations facing off against each other in World Cup qualification action on March 31 at the Estadio do Maracanã.