Rinomhota chooses Warriors

FORMER Warriors trialist Bradley Pritchard has revealed that Reading star Andy Rinomhota is willing to pursue his international career with Zimbabwe.

BY HENRY MHARA

Andy Rinomhota (left) controls the ball away from Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in an FA Cup match last week

The 21-year-old was born in England to a Zimbabwean father and British mother and is one of the several England-born Zimbabweans whom Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambga wants to be part of the national team.

There were fears that the rising star would choose his country of birth over Zimbabwe, considering the rave views that he has been attracting since graduating into the first team of the Championship side in December.

However, Pritchard, who was once invited to the Warriors camp during his time at Charlton Athletic in 2014, has revealed that Rinomhota wants to play for Zimbabwe.

“Once had a chat with the guy (Rinomhota); he is more than willing to represent his country (Zimbabwe). The ball is in Zifa’s court now,” wrote Pritchard on social media site Facebook in response to Warriors fan Alvin Zhakata’s post, who had implored the authorities to give Rinomhota dual citizenship so he could play for Zimbabwe.

On the same thread, Warriors team manager Wellington Mupandare, who leads the initiative to tap into talent emerging from among the diaspora community, confirmed that they had started the process of securing the midfielder’s passport.

Mupandare is hoping they would have secured passports for all the several foreign-based Zimbabwean players they are chasing in time for the Warriors’ crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final qualifier against Congo Brazzaville in March.

Rinomhota was included in the Warriors’ provisional squad for the 2018 Cosafa Cup held in South Africa in June, but was eventually omitted from the final squad as he is yet to acquire a Zimbabwean passport. The young, but talented defensive midfielder has been receiving rave views in the Championship, the English second-tier division since graduating into the Reading first team.

He progressed into the senior set-up last season — starting in the Carabao Cup as he built up senior experience — but a lengthy injury absence mid-season hampered his progress.

Rinomhota has fought back from injury issues, though, and has been voted as man of the match by Reading supporters in almost all the games he has started, including an FA Cup match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku scored in the first half to secure passage to the fourth round for the Premier League outfit, in a result that could be seen as harsh on a spirited Reading performance.

Rinomhota’s classy show in that match caught the eye of former England and Manchester United defender Phil Neville, who picked him and fellow midfielder Liam Kelly for special mention.

“I can’t believe Reading are so low in the Championship, given the way they played. They have some really good players in this team, with Kelly and Rinomhota especially impressive. They’ve played with real confidence and flair — they just lacked a bit of composure in the final third. They don’t look like a team who haven’t won in 10 games – they’re playing with real confidence and real arrogance,” Neville said in his post-match analysis.

Rinomhota is one of several foreign born players the Warriors technical team has identified to infuse into the national team.

Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa and Wales-based Alec Mudimu have already played for the Warriors, helping the team in the Afcon qualifiers, where Zimbabwe is on the brink of qualifying for the finals.

Reading are playing Nottingham Forest at the weekend in a league match, and the Warriors supporters will be hoping that Darikwa can use the occasion to further convince Rinomhota to consider Zimbabwe.

Other stars that the Warriors are pursuing are Adam Chicksen, Kundai Benyu, Macauley Bonne, Tristan Nydam and Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson.