Teenage midfielder Kundai Benyu, who has recently been linked with a move to Premier League side Tottenham has been called up to the national side ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on June 11.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The England-based 19-year-old skillful playmaker, whose contract with English Football League (EFL) Championship side Ipswich Town expires at the end of the season, was born in London to expart Zimbabwean parents.
Warriors’ team manager Wellington Mupandare confirmed Benyu’s call-up in an interview with Standardsport yesterday, adding that he had already spoken to the player’s father, who is now based in the country.
“Yes, I can confirm that Kundai Benyu has been called up to the national team. I had a meeting with his father in Harare last Friday and he would love to see him playing for Zimbabwe. He has since communicated with him,” Mupandare said.
“Benyu’s situation is slightly different from the other players based in England in that even though he was born there, his father relocated to Zimbabwe some time ago, which makes it easier for us to process his documents in the event that he wants to play for Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mupandare also confirmed that interim Warriors coach Norman Mapeza would be holding a press conference on Thursday to announce the squad for the Liberia tie.
“We will be announcing the squad at a press conference on Thursday having finalised discussions with some of the other England-based players such as Tendayi Darikwa, MacCauley Bonne, Brendan Galloway and the like, as well,” Mpandare said.
Benyu’s call-up was also confirmed by Ipswich Town in a statement on their official website on Friday evening.
“Town midfielder Kundai Benyu has been called up for international duty by Zimbabwe. The 19-year-old, who impressed on loan at Aldershot this season, will join up with the senior Zimbabwe squad next month for an Afcon qualifying match against Liberia.
“It is Kundai’s first call-up to international football, with the Warriors hoping to start their Afcon qualification campaign with a positive result at home to Liberia,” the Championship club said in a statement on their website.
Benyu is reportedly at the centre of a tug-of-war between Tottenham Hotspur, Scottish champions Celtic and English Football League (EFL) Championship side Aston Villa, after a successful loan spell at Aldershot, who ply their trade in the National League.
According to the Daily Mail, Benyu’s displays for the Shots have attracted scouts from Tottenham, West Ham, Aston Villa and Celtic and he could leave Ipswich Town for a compensation fee.
“Indeed, his performances for Gary Waddock’s side were good enough to attract scouts from Tottenham, Aston Villa, West Ham and Celtic who have all noted his potential,” leading British football journalist Jonny Singer said in an article the Daily Mail last week.
“Tottenham have long admired Benyu and invited him to be part of their NextGen Series squad in Amsterdam last summer.
“They know he is out of contract this year and is yet to agree new terms at Portman Road, so can leave for a compensation fee,” he said.
Benyu is one of the two Zimbabwean teenage prodigies at the Ipswich Town Academy together with Tristan Nydman, who was recently capped by England at Under-18 level.
His call-up comes at a time when the new interim Warriors technical department has shown interest to consider talent from the diaspora community, where some promising stars are already emerging, especially in England.