BULAWAYO – The future of local football looks bright if the performance by young footballers during Sunday’s Mbada Diamonds Cup first round double header at Barbourfields is anything to go by.
Young Turks Timothy January of How Mine, Highlanders’ Gabriel Nyoni and Triangle midfielder Pasca Manhanga hogged the spotlight with some sublime performances that captured the attention of football followers.
How Mine’s 20 – year old left linkman Timothy January was the toast of the gold miners after grabbing the all important goal that ensured them passage into the quarter – final stage after a 1-0 victory over Black Rhinos in the first match of the day.
January was a second half replacement for Nqobile Mpala and earned himself the super substitute tag after finding the target on 76 minutes.
That goal proved to be the difference and January earned the praise of his coach Philani ‘Beefy’ Ncube for his match winning exploits.
The second match pitting Highlanders and Triangle was a cracker of a game in which Nyoni and Manhanga were outstanding and either of the two could have easily been chosen as the man of the match had it not been for the exploits of eventual winner Bruce Kangwa of Highlanders.
Twenty-two-year old midfielder Manhanga trended on the social networking site facebook after an explosive second half performance with most fans saying the player deserved to play for a bigger club than Triangle.
The gap – toothed player could easily have been captured by Highlanders a couple of seasons ago had their scouting system been effective.
Manhanga, a National Youth Games winner with Manicaland Province in the 2010 edition of the games that was held in Harare, spent a year playing in Bulawayo in 2011 but local clubs failed to take note of his talent.
The player was turning out for the Lizwe Sweswe coached Tsholotsho after Sweswe lured the player to play for his team who were then campaigning in the Southern Region Second Division.
Manhanga arrived alongside his teammates from the victorious Manicaland Youth Games squad and together they helped Tsholotsho gain promotion into the first division in 2011.
He then moved to Triangle who were then campaigning in the Eastern Region Division One and helped the side win promotion into the elite league in 2012.
The player’s appearances in the top flight were far and in between in the first half of the season with most being substitute cameos but his performance in last weekend’s humdinger should secure him a regular starting slot.
Highlanders have of late been struggling for goals but Nyoni’s brace against Triangle is likely to raise Bosso fans’ hopes that their prayers have been answered.
The 21 year old Nyoni is blessed with lightning pace and has taken to the position of Highlanders chief striker like a fish taking to water.
And away from Bulawayo, another young player Kuda Mahachi of Chicken Inn stole the show in Zvishavane were he was chosen as the man of the match after shining like a beacon in his team 3-0 mauling of Shabanie Mine.
The future indeed looks bright for Zimbabwean football with the kind of young talent that has come to the fore this season.