Bonne says Zimbabwe has firepower to cause problems in Africa..His big plans for Arcadia United

Apart from his desire to feature for Zimbabwe in next month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria, the British-born striker also wants to inspire and revive football interest in the Arcadia community in Harare. The striker’s father father Shaun was born in the area before relocating to the United Kingdom years ago.

The player intends to play a role in the possible rebirth of Arcadia United.

Arcadia United was once a hub of talent, churning out some of the country’s finest footballers that included the late Hamid Dhana, former goalkeeper Peter Fanwell, current Warriors assistant coach Joey Antipas, Mike Abrahams and George “TNT’’ Rollo.

Arcadia United are now in Division Two and virtually a caricature of the institution that also gave Zimbabwe players such as Herman “Sea Cottage” Hendrickse, Bethal Salis, Reg Payne, Headley Layton and Miguel Lemming.

Former defender Carlos Max, Stewart Gilbert, Majid Dhana (late), Mike Mhlanga, Brendon Noble and Wesley Gilbert also feature among those that passed through the Arcadia conveyor belt.

The 24-year-old Bonne poured his heart out in an interview with The Sunday Mail Sport last week.

He revealed that he is looking forward to finally making his Warriors debut next month.

Zimbabwe face group leaders Algeria in a top of the table 2021 Africa Cup Nations qualifier in the North African country on March 23.

Although his primary mission to the country will be to help the Warriors’ attacking line, the plight of Arcadia has not been lost on Bonne’s mind.

“I want to inspire people from Arcadia, that’s why I am coming to help in ensuring that happens.”

Bonne has heard a lot about Arcadia United, a team that featured in the Zimbabwean top-flight league in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and had turned Danny Bismarck Stadium into a fortress.

“I have heard a lot about this team (Arcadia United) which hails from my father’s childhood suburb. I would love to see the team getting back to the top,” Bonne said.

The Charlton Athletic striker has recovered from a hamstring injury that had kept him out since December 30, 2019 and is now focusing on finally making his Afcon bow with Zimbabwe’s Warriors.

The former Leyton Orient striker, who has been likened to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy by the British press, made his debut for the Zimbabwe Under-23 side and scored in a friendly match against a full strength Morocco national team in November 2014.

Bonne then made his full international debut, again in a friendly tie, starring in Zimbabwe’s 0-1 defeat to Lesotho on November 8, 2017.

But he knows that the real deal is in the World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers.

“It’s now my time to come and play (for Zimbabwe). The last time we qualified I was gutted not to have been part of the Warriors who played at the 2019 Afcon finals.

“But now everything is fixed and I am going to be ready,” said Bonne, who is now a holder of a Zimbabwean passport.

“The last time I came down there it was really fantastic, the boys were so welcoming. I had difficulties understanding Shona, although some fans ended up calling me Shumba (Lion).

“It’s a name that I like a lot up to now but honestly I don’t know what it means. I like Zimbabwe a lot, my father was born there before the family relocated to England and before I was born.”

This season, Bonne has featured 19 times for English Championship side Charlton Athletic and has scored eight goals.

Between 2017 and 2019, he scored 45 goals in two seasons for England National League side Leyton Orient, before making the move to Charlton Athletic in June last year. The striker is loving his stay at The Addicks.

“It’s been good, I started slowly but when I came into the team against Leeds United (in September 2019) and went on a good run, everything clicked.

“Unfortunately, I tore my hamstring, but I am back at full training now. It’s all clear,” Bonne said.

He believes Zimbabwe now have the pedigree to cause problems in Africa and also reckons that the country can produce more players who can make it into top European leagues.


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