PSL's welcome boost for Zimbabwe
Something special is happening in the Zimbabwean national football team and former captain Esrom Nyandoro can't help but be excited about the future.
While Bafana Bafana have failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), their neighbours have booked a spot in Gabon next year with a squad comprising mostly of players who ply their trade in the PSL.
The group comprises of the Mamelodi Sundowns duo of Khama Billiat and Cuthbert Malajila, Kaizer Chiefs' Willard Katsande, Onismor Bhasera (Bidvest Wits), Evans Rusike (Maritzburg United), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Golden Arrows) and Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates). Matthew Rusike and Knowledge Musona are both ex-Chiefs players.
These Warriors helped raise the standard in the PSL and steered Zimbabwe to Afcon qualification for the first time in 10 years. In fact, Zimbabwe could be Southern Africa's sole representatives at the continental championships next year.
Nyandoro believes the current players can become the "golden generation" after qualifying for the Afcon with a game to spare in group L.
"The coach, Callisto Pawusa, is doing well with the team. This is a new generation and you have the likes of Khama Billiat and Knowledge Musona and they are led by [Willard] Katsande," said Nyandoro, who was part of the last Zimbabwean team that played at Afcon in Egypt in 2006.
"They are level headed and they are working for each other.
" The team is going in a new direction with more youngsters coming in. They are hungry and energetic."
Nyandoro, a former Sundowns midfielder, believes it's the right time for Billiat to make a move overseas.
Billiat, crowned PSL footballer of the season, scored for the Warriors in their 3-0 victory over Malawi on Sunday, taking his tally of goals in the qualifiers to three.
Musona and Malajila were also on the scoresheet as Zimbabwe ran riot in Harare and sealed qualification with 11 points in five matches.
"Khama's game has matured a lot. We all know Khama used to miss a lot. We would say if Khama scores, he would be one of the top scorers. Not only does he score now, but he creates as well. He is growing game by game," said Nyandoro.
Zimbabwe have been drawn into the group of death in their last two appearances at Afcon. They have never gone past the group stages, but this current squad has the potential to break new ground.