BY HENRY MHARA DYNAMOS coach Tonderai Ndiraya is backing teenage sensation Bill Antonio to make an impression and secure a contract at Belgian side KV Mechelen where he is undergoing trials.
The 19 year-old winger arrived in Antwerp on Tuesday at the invitation of the top flight league side for an assessment with the hope of joining the club.
He will be at the club for six weeks.
Ndiraya, who gave Antonio his breakthrough at Dynamos this season, does not doubt the qualities of the youngster and believes that he will impress.
“I personally think he will make the grade,” Ndiraya told StandardSport on Friday.
“What I like about the team is that it’s not a very big team in Belgium, but it’s a team which is known for producing players and selling to teams with bigger budgets in that country and across Europe. I think the boy can make the grade because they will look to further develop him and sell him to bigger leagues. That is their policy and thrust. I don’t doubt his qualities and what these European teams normally buy when they get an African is the potential… the same way they did with the Peter Ndlovus and the Benjani Mwaruwaris.”
Ndiraya spent over a month attached at KV Mechelen last year as part of the two teams’ partnership, which was signed two years ago.
He is convinced that Antonio can easily match the quality of play that he saw at Mechelen.
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“He needs further development.
“Our development systems here are different from those in Europe. They have got better development structures so I’m confident that if he gets into those structures he can be polished and become a player that we all want him to be. Naturally the route would be for a player to play locally for at least one or two seasons then play for the national team and get a number of caps. After getting all that necessary experience he can one then go abroad and play there. But I’m cognisant of the fact that there are a number of players who didn’t play much in the local league, but made it abroad,” Ndiraya said.
Ndiraya promoted Antonio into the Dynamos first team when he was still a student at Prince Edward High School.
After an impressive start to his career at the Harare giants, he was called into the senior national football team and made his Warriors debut against South Africa in a World Cup qualifier last year.
“I’m very proud and happy as his coach that he has been invited for trials in Europe. Not just me, but the entire nation. When he goes out there and do well he becomes the pride of everyone. He is going to be putting the nation on the map. My hope is that he will be signed and that then encourages us as coaches to play youngsters and when we do that it’s good for the development of our game as a country. Apart from the confidence that we had in playing him, he also put a lot of hard work for him to play and be noticed. We also have to give that to him. Hopefully it will serve as an inspiration to all the other youngsters in the country,” Ndiraya said.
The 19-year old speedster is a vital cog in the DeMbare squad who are gunning for their first league title since 2014.
Antonio is arguably Dynamos’ best player this far, having contributed three goals and four assists to their cause this campaign.