ISAAC Mabaya, the Liverpool attacking midfielder of Zimbabwean heritage, has been named in the southern African country’s squad for two World Cup qualifiers this month.
19-year-old Mabaya, an academy product at the Merseyside giants, was rewarded with his first professional contract by Liverpool early this year after impressing manager Jurgen Klopp during an off-season stint with the Reds’ senior team.
It isn’t however clear if the Preston-born starlet will answer the call from his parents’ homeland after he was earlier this year reported to be eying an international career with England.
Zimbabwe, who are homeless following an international ban on their stadiums, will open their World Cup qualification campaign away to Rwanda on 15 November. The Warriors will then stay on in Rwanda for a “home” game, hosting Nigeria on 19 November.
Mabaya is among quite few exiled players of Zimbabwean origin included in the 27-man provisional squad. Local media refers to this
group of players as the “British Brigade.”
They include Brentford goalkeeper Marley Tavaziva, midfielder Andy Rinomhota of Cardiff and Leicester City forward Tawanda Maswanhise. There is also Reading defender Tivonge Rushesha as well as forward Leon Chiwome of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Zimbabwe are being coached by Baltermar Brito, the Brazilian-born mentor who has come to the limelight as a former assistant coach of the world-famous Jose Mourinho at leading European – Chelsea and Inter Milan.
The 71-year-old Brito was appointed Zimbabwe’s interim coach in September to take charge of the Warriors’ World Cup qualifiers, up until mid-2024.
There is however one big question: Will the “British Brigade” answer the call from the land of their forefathers? While some of them have previously featured for the Warriors with great pride, others – the new call-ups – have said NO because they lack any connection to Zimbabwe. Let’s just wait and see if they will be interested this time around. – Staff Writer/ SportsCast.co.zw