By Lawrence Trusida, Sports Editor
WITH the Africa Cup of Nations heading towards the business end of the competition, for the Warriors, the story is the same after getting the first flight back home.
When the Warriors 23-man squad for the 2021 AFCON was reviewed, no one would have thought that Gerald Takwara who plays in the South African National first division with Venda Football Academy, Ishmael Wadi also in the same league with JDR stars and FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari would be the standout stars.
Takwara had a good tournament at the heart of defence and capped it with a man of the match award in the final game against Guinea.
The former FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum utility man kept Liverpool starman Sadio Mane quiet in the first game and even though the team conceded two goals against Malawi, he was blameless.
At 27, the rock solid utility player who can also play central midfield should be in the picture for a long time and based on his performance, a move might be in the offing soon.
Winger Ishmael Wadi also showed his class in the two games he featured at the tournament, especially with his direct play.
The former Harare City and CAPS United forward was largely expected to play second fiddle to his more illustrious teammates, but he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and troubled the Senegalese defence that was made up of European-based stars.
Offers were already coming for Wadi before the tournament based on his performances and it’s only a matter of time before he joins a bigger club after scoring that stunner against Malawi.
With the country struggling to get a dependable goalkeeper, Petros Mhari might have put an end to that search for the time being.
The FC Platinum goalkeeper flourished in the first game, especially with his command and timing which kept his team in the match until the last minute penalty changed everything.
Even though the team had a lukewarm tournament, ball control and the passing improved meaning they might be onto something under coach Norman Mapeza, moreso after getting the monkey off his back with his first win against Guinea.
Iceland based Kundai Benyu also showed glimpses of his class while Jordan Zemura arrived late, but is certainly the future of the team.
France based striker Tino Kadewere was probably the biggest disappointment after failing to justify the tag of a superstar while Teenage Hadebe owes the nation big time after his poor decision making for a player of his calibre.
Captain Knowledge Musona who has hinted on retirement also had a subdued tournament and it looks like his best days are over.
There are others like Kuda Mahachi, Godknows Murwira and Never Tigere who should have been given more game time after playing well in the victory over Guinea.