TWO weeks after making his five star performance for the Warriors in a 4-0 demolition of Swaziland in a crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Sports Stadium, Zimbabwe’s new-found midfield kingpin Marvelous Nakamba still has spring in his step.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
For him, it was exactly the stuff that dreams are made of. Getting his first start in senior colours in front of a 40 000 home crowd, the Vitesse Arnherm hardman engineered the goal that broke the deadlock early in the second half.
In control of the ball in the center of the park, Nakamba threaded that probing pass, to his best friend Kuda Mahachi who charged towards goal before he was bundled by a Swazi defender, resulting in a penalty that sent Zimbabwe football fans to dreamland.
“It was my full debut and I still feel good about my performance on the day, but there is always room for improvement. The most important thing for me is that the team won a crucial match,” Nakamba told Standardsport from his Netherlands base.
“It was really amazing for me to get to play in front of such a big crowd, considering that it was my first start in the team. That is exactly what dreams are made of. It was a special day. The crowd was amazing; they supported us from start to finish and we won 4-0 which was a good result for us and also for the fans,” he said.
It had been a rather frustrating wait for Nakamba who had since made a couple of substitute appearances for Zimbabwe. He had sat out the away leg against Sihlangu as the two played a cagey one-all stalemate.
With Zimbabwe sitting at the summit of Group L in the 2017 Afcon, the 22-year old midfielder is already dreaming of playing at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon next year.
“After the 1-1 draw in Swaziland, we sat down as a team and discussed. All we want is to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations next year and compete at that level. We want to go to Gabon. That is our goal and we will try our best to make sure that we qualify,” said the former Bantu Rovers player.
As the Warriors captain slowly approaches the other end of his career in terms of age, it is refreshing to have a young midfielder who is a good ball winner.
More encouraging is the fact that Nakamba is slowly cementing his place in the Vitesse side, which is currently lying fifth in the Dutch league.
So good has Nakamba been this season that reports coming from international media said he was on English outgoing champions Chelsea’s radar late last year appear to make sense.
But he laughed off the rumours.
“I just saw it on the internet, but I don’t know anything about it. Chelsea is one of the big clubs in Europe and they have won the Champions League. And for me playing for any team in the English Premier League will be a dream come true.
“My season at Vitesse has been good so far and I thank God it’s getting better every day. I have been playing since the beginning of the season and I am looking forward to continue giving it my best,” Nakamba said.
At Vitas, as Vitesse is affectionately known by its fans, Nakamba plays alongside a host of Chelsea loanees such as Lewis Baker, Dominic Solanke, Danilo Pantic, Isaiah Brown as well as young Brazilian midfielder Nathan.
The coaching department headed by Rob Maas also has Danish legend and former AC Milan star Jon dahl Tomasson within its ranks.
“He [Tomasson] is part of the excellent technical staff we have at Vitessse headed by Maas. He is a good coach and he is always giving us advice on how to get to top level since he has played for big teams,” Nakamba said.
Born in January 1994 in Hwange, Nakamba’s father Anthony used to take him to football matches when he was young and inevitably, he fell in love with the sport.
He began to make waves in the dusty streets of Makokoba and later in Njube, Bulawayo where he grew up.
The former Njube High School student excelled as a junior, and eventually featured for Bantu Rovers in the local Premier Soccer League as a 16-year-old before representing the Zimbabwe Under-17 squad the same year. He subsequently graduated into the Under-20 team the following year in 2011.
Nakamba’s major breakthrough came when he signed for French side Nancy in 2012 where he spent two years before the Eredivisie side Vitesse snapped him up.
It is no surprise that the boy who hails from Bulawayo is inspired by Zimbabwe legendary forward and former Coventry City forward Peter Ndlovu.
“Peter Ndlovu inspires me a lot. I grew up hearing his name in Bulawayo. Whenever Zimbabwe was playing, it was always his name at the forefront and I would also want to leave a legacy like he has done for Zimbabwean football,” he said.
While the young player has had to be far away from his family from a tender age, he makes sure that they visit him as often as possible.
“I stay alone here and sometimes it’s difficult to be so far away from home, but my family was here for about six weeks recently. They went back to Zimbabwe last month and I make sure they visit a lot,” Nakamba said.
Nakamba is the older of two boys born to Anthony and Charity Nakamba with young brother Junior who is 11 years old. According to Nakamba, Junior has shown little interest in football.
“I have a younger brother, his name is Junior. He is 11, but I don’t think he is interested in football. The only time he is interested is when I am playing. That’s just about the only time he watches,” he said.
While he believes that he could be destined for greatness, Nakamba shrunk at the idea of being compared to Ronald Sibanda, the former Warriors playmaker.
“I think I am still too young to be compared to Gidiza. He is a legend and I am still at the beginning of my career. But I thank God for everything that I have. The gift of life and the talent that he gave me, otherwise I would not be here,” the versatile midfielder said.