The Young Warriors of hope

MASTER AND STUDENT . . . Young Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa gives a tip to  forward Tino Kadewere during a training session at the Italian Sports Club.  — Picture: Kudakwashe Hunda

MASTER AND STUDENT . . . Young Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa gives a tip to
forward Tino Kadewere during a training session at the Italian Sports Club.
— Picture: Kudakwashe Hunda

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THE pain of losing his father early this year is driving Young Warriors forward Tino Kadewere.

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“This year has got to be mine,” declares the Harare City starlet.

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Kadewere (19) is expected to play a pivotal role when the national Under-23 side clashes with Swaziland in a second round, first leg African Championship qualifier at Rufaro in Harare this afternoon.

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The Young Warriors have the task of lifting the spirits of a disappointed nation in the aftermath of the senior team’s dismal exit from the Cosafa Cup in South Africa last week.

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Kallisto Pasuwa’s boys, who have already qualified for the All-Africa Games, have been an oasis of joy and the nation is anticipating qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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The 2015 CAF U-23 African Championship finals, to be hosted by Senegal in December, will serve as qualifiers for the Olympic Games in Brazil next year.

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The top three teams at the tourney will head to the Olympic Games.

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First, the Young Warriors have to get past Swaziland over two legs to book a date with neighbours South Africa in the final qualifying round.

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But Pasuwa, once again, hasn’t had the kind of preparation he needs.

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“Honestly speaking, I think in terms of our football we are not serious about what we want at the end of the day. We have players in camp and the next day they are taken away.

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“Of all the defenders I had for the game against Cameroon, I am left with only one — again, I am restarting and this is not good for our game.

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“But we are here to go out there and play with the boys I have, they are ready for the task. I have been telling them ‘you are the main men, just go out there and prove yourselves’,” he said.

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The Dynamos duo of ‘keeper Tatenda Mukuruva and defender Blessing Moyo, and Tafadzwa Kutinyu and Lawrence Mhlanga (Chicken Inn) were recalled by their clubs, while influential left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai is on trials in Denmark.

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One boy Pasuwa can bank on this afternoon is the lanky Kadewere, who is likely to form part of a vicious attack with Highlanders’ rising star Thomas “Rihanna” Chideu, skipper Wisdom Mutasa and Triangle’s gifted winger Malvin Gaki.

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Kadewere believes this could be the moment to write his own fairytale.

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“I am dedicating it to my late father Onias who passed away in January. He remains my hero and I want to do this for him.

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“I know I will get there. For him I will because there is no one else I can do this for. I believe he is guiding me from wherever he is and I would like to also believe that I will perform to the maximum if I am selected.”

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Playing alongside former schoolmates Chideu and Tsholotsho FC defensive linkman Gerald Takwara should provide young Kadewere with some comfort to do what he knows best — dribble and pass.

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“That is my style; I enjoy the game and I also like bringing my teammates into the game. The fans should just come in their thousands and play their part in the stands while we play ours on the turf,” he said.

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Takwara, whose workaholic attitude in front of the back four in the two legs against Cameroon had echoes of the late Benjamin Nkonjera, also sounded confident ahead of the tie.

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“It doesn’t matter which opponent is in our way; we are ready to fight. It is also not wise to cry over the missing players, the spirit is always the same.

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“There is nothing to fear, we will just carry on with that impressive Africa Games run,” said the DC Academy product.

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Bosso linkman Nqobizitha Masuku views today’s game as an opportunity for this crop to endear themselves to foreign scouts.

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“We want to make our own mark. It is good to qualify for the Olympic Games, it’s a big stage. Scouts from major European leagues will be there and who knows, one of us might get selected,” he said.

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Probable line-p:

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Takabva Mawaya, Munyaradzi Nyenye, Edwin Madhanhanga, Teenage Hadebe, Liberty Chakoroma, Gerald Takwara, Nqobizitha Masuku, Wisdom Mutasa, Thomas Chideu, Tino Kadewere, Malvin Gaki.