Meteoric rise of Mukuruva

HARARE - The experience of elders should prevail over the skill of youth, goes the saying but Zimbabwe national team and Dynamos goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva is defying that assertion.

When Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa, announced the squad to face Malawi in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) opening qualifier against Malawi last week, very few would have expected experienced pair of Washington Arubi and George Chigova to be excluded.

After a nightmarish performance between the posts in the Warriors' last encounter against Namibia at the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup, the proverbial guillotine was seemingly justified to fall on Chigova.

The shocker being the exclusion of University of Pretoria goalkeeper Arubi.

His omission aroused the irk of many Warriors fans who rightfully critiqued Pasuwa's choice of the goalkeepers to do duty in Malawi.

Both How Mine's Benard Donovan and the 19-year-ol Mukuruva had not tasted action with the senior national team prior to the Afcon 2017 opening qualifier, their international games being in the Under-23 Olympic qualifying games against Cameroon and Swaziland.

Questions around Mukuruva's astounding inclusion ahead of the seemingly more experienced Arubi were answered by his near flawless performance in Blantyre.

Signing for the record Zimbabwe champions as teenager is no fluke as it requires a player with thick skin to withstand pressure that comes with playing for the biggest football club in the country.

To be trusted with guarding goal for the senior national team is even more nerve-wrecking.

But perhaps it is because Pasuwa knows Mukuruva too well, having given the 19-year-old agile goalkeeper his debut at Dynamos in a league match against Hwange two seasons ago.

Again this afternoon against the Comoros, Pasuwa is likely to keep faith in the fledgling Mukuruva to do duty in goals for the Warriors ahead of Donovan.

"It really humbles that the coach has so much faith in me. It means that I have to let my performances vindicate him of any criticism. There are so many equally talented goalkeepers in the country who are also eager to prove their worth," Mukuruva tells the Daily News on Sunday.

Already a two-time title winner with DeMbare, Mukuruva, who only completed his 'A' level studies last year at Prince Edward School, is already looking at writing his own piece of history with the national team.

"I'm still young and I believe I can still develop to be even much better than what I am. It is up to me to work even harder to keep my place in the team,” he says.

“If I don't perform then the coaches will obviously look for someone who can."

The Warriors debut against Malawi is now history, at least according to Mukuruva, was however, quick to mention the support from the ever demanding DeMbare fans that hardened him as well as competition from Donovan keeps him on his toes.

"Dynamos fans are demanding, and it’s good for my game as well because it improves you in many aspects. Concentration is also key, and I have to do that for 90mins. I believe Donovan is equally talented and he is also improving my games as we train together," he says.

The Warriors’ preparations for both the Malawi and the Comoros ties have been far from pleasing as the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) is clearly struggling to ensure Pasuwa has ample time with his players, but that has not discouraged the Dynamos keeper.

"It's unfortunate that such things are occurring in the game, but as players we always want the best for our country. I have fulfilled a childhood dream of representing my country,” he says.

“I still hungry for more success, money of course is an issue, but when it comes to representing my country, a compromise can always be reached.”

Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader, Walter Magaya has had to dig deep into his own pockets on a number of occasions to bail out the bankrupt Zifa.

A mere high school student, just above three years ago, turning out for a Division two side Budiriro Gunners, Mukuruva never expected to one day be trusted with guarding goal for Dynamos let alone the Zimbabwe national senior national team, but as he steps out to take his position, be it in goals or the bench, the transition has nothing but a fairytale.

"All credit to my mother who has been encouraging me every step of the way. She always tells me to play every games as if my life depends on it. She is the reason why I am here today," he said.

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