Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau
HIGHLY-RATED England-based defender, Jordan Zemura, is the talk of Bournemouth after a starring debut show in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
Warriors midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, produced one of his best displays in an Aston Villa shirt, in the 3-1 win over Burton Albion, on the same night.
However, striker Macauley Bonne ended on the wrong side of a 0-1 defeat, playing just 45 minutes for Charlton Athletic, in their 0-3 loss at West Ham.
But, it’s Zemura, affectionately known as ‘’JZ’’, who grabbed the headlines.
The 20-year-old says he now wants to inspire the future generation of Zimbabwean football, as he eagerly waits his first dance, with the Warriors.
He has made gigantic leaps, in his career in the last two seasons, and took it a notch higher when he made his official senior team debut at Bournemouth two days ago.
The rapid rise, and his excellent performance, have all combined to excite his coach, Jason Tindall.
On Tuesday, Zemura converted a penalty, in the shootout, and was impressive throughout the match.
He has already sent a clear message to Zifa he is available to represent his fatherland, despite having been born and raised in England.
He told his club’s website he was excited about playing for the Warriors and feels international football will help define his career.
“The idea of playing for your country is surreal, it’s what you dream of when you’re a kid,’’ he said.
‘’Now I’m a bit older, and the opportunity could arise, I’m really excited.
“I’m still humble from how I’ve been raised by my family and they tell me not to think too much about something that hasn’t happened yet.
“If I could pull on the shirt, and represent Zimbabwe, then I’d be thinking what I can achieve, how I can help and give another child in Zimbabwe the inspiration to see what can be done.
“They’re the next generation, and there is talent both there and in England, with players who can represent Zimbabwe.
‘’Being at Bournemouth is such a big platform for me and I want to inspire people and see the country do really well.’’
The player, who can play either at right or leftback, featured in the dramatic 11-10 penalty shootout victory over English Premiership side Crystal Palace in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
Zemura is among the pool of players of Zimbabwean descent, who were either born or raised in Europe, and have been tracked by Zifa, with the help of patriotic agents, to consider representing the Warriors.
He narrowly missed this opportunity last year, when he was included in the Warriors squad to play the opening games of the 2021 Afcon qualifiers, but was dropped by then interim coach Joey Antipas at the last minute.
His Zimbabwean passport had expired and could not be renewed on time.
The defender, however, is relishing another opportunity, ahead of the resumption of international football in November, when Zimbabwe play back-to-back Afcon qualifiers against Algeria.
Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, has been tracking Zimbabwean players, dotted across the globe, for the huge assignment.
Zemura was born in London on November 14, 2000, shortly after his parents had arrived in the UK.
He started playing football at the age of six and, two years later, he was already on the books of Queens Park Rangers’ academy.
He moved from QPR to spend seven years at Charlton Athletic.
He joined the Cherries’ academy, from Charlton Athletic, in May 2019 and has risen quickly, from the development side into the senior team.
Zemura missed the season-opener when the Cherries beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2.
He came off the bench to play in both of the Cherries’ pre-season matches away to Benfica and West Ham before earning his maiden competitive chance.
Zemura was one of the two academy players, along with Nigerian Under-20 international Nnamdi Ofoborh, who were handed official senior team debuts by Tindell on Tuesday night.
“Buzzing, it’s the stuff you dream of, stuff that I won’t forget,” he told the BBC radio show after the game.
“I was just excited, I texted my mum, I texted my dad, I told them (because) they help me a lot before a game and, obviously, throughout the game I was thinking if you work hard enough you get the result that you deserve.
“I have been with the team a bit before, in that pre-season obviously, and then I found out the squad today in the morning and I had a few hours to get myself ready and I suppose I could have a nap but I couldn’t.’’
Bournemouth will now play giants Manchester City in the third round next Thursday.
He did not expect that his senior team debut could come this early in the season.
“It’s been good, and everything we’ve done in the Under-21s, with Shaun Cooper, is almost exactly the same,’’ he told the club’s website.
‘’With the first team, it’s a little bit more intense and with more details because you have to have that.
“As younger players, that’s what we’re aspiring to be and Coops tells us that any experience we get with the first team is gold.
“When we train with them, we see the same movements we use with the Under-21s, it’s the care and detail that you see all the way up from the younger levels to the first team.
‘’That makes you feel more comfortable in what you’re doing.’’
His manager, Tindall, said he was blown away by the Zimbabwean.
“I thought he was excellent, JZ (Jordan Zemura),’’ Tindall told the Daiy Echo.
‘’As was Nnamdi who has come in.
“It was great to see JZ, Nnamdi, Jack Simpson and Sam Surridge start, (players) who have come through the youth set-up, which is really promising for the kids coming through for the future.
“I felt all those players conducted themselves very well and delivered a really good performance.”