By Sports Reporter
THE Warriors’ preparations for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers have been dealt a major blow following reports that English Premier League side Aston Villa have blocked Marvelous Nakamba from traveling to represent his home country in the decisive qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia later this month.
Nakamba, 27, came in for his fourth Premier League start of the season against Leeds last weekend and drew rave reviews from Villa supporters and neutrals around the world.
A staggering statistic came out in the aftermath of Villa’s heroic 1-0 win at Elland Road with Villa yet to concede a single goal during Nakamba’s 375 minutes of match action this season.
“He’s never let us down when he’s come in,” was Smith’s assessment of Nakamba after his side’s latest win.
“We’ve been having a decent season and it’s been hard for him to get minutes but he’s one who’s certainly trained very well and, when players aren’t performing, I knew I could put him in.”
Sadly, the Warriors will not be able to benefit from his enormous talent, according to the Birmingham Mail newspaper.
“Dean Smith and Villa, meanwhile, have told Nakamba to stay and to miss his country’s upcoming AFCON qualifiers on March 25 (vs Botswana) and March 29 (vs Zambia) after he was provisionally called-up to represent the Warriors,” the British newspaper which covers Aston Villa reported on Tuesday.
“The decision has been made due to tighter Covid regulations implemented by the British government, with Zimbabwe now amongst the banned travel list for UK citizens.
“The new guidelines state that should Nakamba have travelled to Zimbabwe, he’d have had to undergo a 10-day quarantine period at an airport hotel on his return to Birmingham. Villa, though, have blocked that from happening knowing the defensive midfielder would miss Villa’s fixture with Fulham on April 3. He’d also be touch and go – depending on travel arrangements – for the match after that with Liverpool on April 10,” reported the Birmingham Mail.
Nakamba’s absence will be a major blow to the Warriors technical team led by Croatian coach Zdravko Logarusic.
In addition to Nakamba, Zimbabwe are also likely to miss the services of other England based players such as Jordan Zemura (AFC Bournemouth), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan), Admiral Muskwe (Wycombe) and Luton Town’s Brendon Galloway due to the same restrictions.
Michigan Stars goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva is also doubtful due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions in the US.