Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
MACAULEY BONNE has handed new Warriors coach Zdravko ‘‘Loga’’ Logarusic a huge boost by confirming his availability for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against African champions Algeria next month.
The 24-year-old hitman, who plays for English Championship side Charlton Athletic, pulled out of the qualifiers against Botswana, which ended goalless in Harare, and against Zambia, which the Warriors won 2-1 in Lusaka last year.
Tests had revealed he needed urgent medical examination.
Bonne, part of the British Brigade who have been lured to play for the Warriors, had appeared set to make his AFCON debut against the Zebras after he was finally issued with a Zimbabwean passport.
Although he had committed himself to playing for the Warriors at the 2019 Nations Cup finals in Egypt, where the team’s shortcomings in attack were crudely exposed, Bonne could not fulfil his dream because he did not have a Zimbabwean passport.
However, the Warriors team management helped him secure a passport, after the AFCON finals, only for the striker’s long-awaited debut — in either a World Cup or Nations Cup game — to be derailed by medical complications.
Some conspiracy theorists quickly started circulating unfounded reports that the striker was now having a change of heart, and rather than feature for the Warriors, he was now eyeing a dance with the Three Lions of England for his international football career.
However, English Championship side Charlton Athletic revealed Bonne had, indeed undergone medical tests, and had been given the greenlight to continue with his professional football career.
“The club’s medical team can confirm that Macauley Bonne underwent some planned cardiac investigations last week following a recent routine cardiac screen,’’ Charlton Athletic said in a statement.
“The results of these investigations have been discussed with the sports cardiologist and the player will continue to play and train as normal.
“The club will continue to regularly screen his heart, as recommended, as we do with all our players from U15 through to the first team.”
Bonne, who has scored eight goals for Charlton Athletic in 19 appearances in the Championship, the second-tier league in English football, says he can’t wait to feature for the Warriors next month.
In conversation with Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare, yesterday, the striker said he was ready to finally represent his motherland in a Nations Cup qualifier.
Zimbabwe first travel to Algeria for a clash against the Desert Foxes before hosting the African champions at home in back-to-back matches next month.
Bonne revealed he now wears a special heart rate monitor, to check his heart rate, as part of the measures which the medical specialists came up with to enable him to continue playing professional football.
‘‘I can’t wait to come in March,’’ Bonne said. ‘‘I’m ready man, can’t wait to come.’’
After being asked by Mpandare if the team manager could use the conversation to advise the nation that he was available for the next qualifiers, Bonne said he did not have any problems with that.
‘‘The Herald will carry your story so that the nation knows you are ready to do duty for the Warriors,’’ Mpandare said.
‘‘The fans will be happy to hear that you are ready to do duty for Zimbabwe.’’
And, Bonnie said he was fine with that arrangement.
‘‘Yeah, I’m happy for that, mate,’’ the striker said.
Bonne also advised Mpandare he would be prepared to fly directly to Algeria from his base in London, for the first game, and would prefer to use Stanstead airport for that trip.
Mpandare said it was very likely that Bonne would be on the same flight from England with Aston Villa midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, who plays in the English Premiership.
Bonne also requested that his Zimbabwean passport, which until now has been in the possession of the Warriors’ team management, be forwarded to his home in London.
‘‘Can you send me my passport please,’’ Bonne said. ‘‘Just want it in my possession, please.’’
Bonne was set to finally make his Warriors debut against Botswana last year where, just like at the AFCON finals, the Warriors lacked a cutting edge in attack, something which the fans believe the striker could bring to the team.
However, medical complications crippled those plans.
‘‘I am both delighted and privileged to be selected to join the Zimbabwe national team and I appreciate all those involved in securing my passport,’’ Bonne said.
‘‘I’ve been working extremely hard at club level and to receive this, is something I dreamed of as a boy.
‘‘Unfortunately and reluctantly, I am unable to travel due to unforeseen medical grounds, which is a huge frustration to me, as it will be to the people of Zimbabwe. The messages of support via social media are very much appreciated and although I cannot reply to every message, I do take every one to heart.
‘‘I’d like to wish the entire Zimbabwe team the very best of luck in the coming game(s). In the meantime, I will maintain a line of communication to Welly Mpandare and the ZIFA representatives.’’
Mpandare has been ZIFA’s point man when it comes to communications with Bonne and his team.
Charlton Athletic’s confirmation that Bonne, indeed, underwent medical examinations puts to shame the gospel which was being preached by the merchants of doom, who were suggesting the striker had turned his back on the Warriors.
Still, as is typical in Zimbabwean football, there was an army of people who refused to accept the reality Bonne needed a medical examination and, instead, started accusing him of turning his back on the Warriors.
The disgusting comments drew the ire of many fans, including supporters of Charlton Athletic, who were alarmed by the misplaced, and toxic views, of those misguided elements.
A number of those fans then started fighting back on Twitter.
Bonne has been compared with Leicester City forward, Jamie Vardy, and reports last year indicated that part of the deal, which took him to Charlton Athletic, included a clause where he would move to the Foxes in the event he scored, at least 15 goals, in the Championship.