Aston Villa have blocked Marvelous Nakamba from representing Zimbabwe for this month’s African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia.
Nakamba, 27, came in for his fourth Premier League start of the season against Leeds last weekend and drew rave reviews from Villa supporters and those watching on from his native Zimbabwe.
A staggering statistic came out in the aftermath of Villa’s heroic 1-0 win at Elland Road with Villa yet to concede a single goal during Nakamba’s 375 minutes of match action this season.
“He’s never let us down when he’s come in,” was Smith’s assessment of Nakamba after his side’s latest win. “We’ve been having a decent season and it’s been hard for him to get minutes but he’s one who’s certainly trained very well and, when players aren’t performing, I knew I could put him in.”
Smith and Villa, meanwhile, have told Nakamba to stay and to miss his country’s upcoming AFCON qualifiers on March 25 (vs Botswana) and March 29 (vs Zambia) after he was provisionally called-up to represent the Warriors.
The decision has been made due to tighter Covid regulations implemented by the British government, with Zimbabwe now amongst the banned travel list for UK citizens.
The new guidelines state that should Nakamba had travelled to Zimbabwe, he’d have had to undergo a 10-day quarantine period at an airport hotel on his return to Birmingham. Villa, though, have blocked that from happening knowing the defensive midfielder would miss Villa’s fixture with Fulham on April 3. He’d also be touch and go – depending on travel arrangements – for the match after that with Liverpool on April 10.
Nakamba last represented his country in November and won his 21st, 22nd and 23rd caps against Malawi and Algeria twice, with the latter two games part of Zimbabwe’s AFCON qualification. The Warriors are second in Group H, five points off leaders Algeria and a point and two points ahead of Botswana and Zambia respectively.
Elsewhere, Robson Sharuko of The Herald in Zimbabwe has informed BirminghamLive that Nakamba has just been named as one of the most-influential leaders under-40 in Zimbabwe. – Birmingham Mail