10 March 2019

Zimbabwe: Warriors' War Cry From Wales

Alec Mudimu's ascent to become a regular in the Warriors' starting line-up has been nothing short of meteoric.

Only a year ago very few Zimbabwean fans had even heard of the 23-year-old versatile player despite his rapid progress at Welsh Premier League side Cefn Druids.

Mudimu himself admitted to being "shell-shocked" after he received his maiden call-up to the Warriors squad for a four-nation tournament in Zambia last year.

"I was shell-shocked for 10 seconds. I couldn't even breathe, it was such a surprise," Mudimu told BBC Wales Sport of his first selection by the Warriors technical team last year.

"My sister and my grandmother were in tears. It was an emotional moment and it brings such joy to me knowing I've brought such pride to my family back home."

Barely a year after his unexpected call-up to the Warriors, Mudimu has grown into a pillar of consistency for Sunday Chidzambga's side, and at 23 he still has time on his side to build a legacy as one of the Zimbabwean modern game's finest centre-backs.

Although he has made a name for himself in Welsh football as a midfielder, Chidzambga prefers to play him at centre-back and Mudimu says he is delighted to be entrusted to do the job in such a key position in the team.

"It's interesting, actually I've always been familiar with both positions on the field really. When I was first approached by the technical and coaching staff at an international level to play as a centre half, I was so amazed and grateful that I could be trusted to play a key position in the team to help keep solidarity. I enjoy playing both positions so much I couldn't complain. I really just love playing the game in midfield or in defence," he said.

Mudimu has come a long way since making his Warriors debut against Zambia putting on a string of superb performances at the heart of the defence, which has been the key to success for Chidzambga.

After his debut at the Four Nations Tournament in Zambia, he went on to feature in the 2018 Cosafa Cup winning squad, before playing a key role in the ongoing 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification campaign.

The Wales-based player made his first appearance in the ongoing 2019 Afcon qualification campaign during the Warriors' 1-1 draw against Congo in Brazzaville in September before putting on a superb performance in the shock 2-1 victory over DR Congo in Kinshasa a month later.

After missing the return leg against DR Congo last October, Mudimu reclaimed his place in the starting line-up during the disappointing 1-0 defeat to Liberia in Monrovia.

Mudimu will have an opportunity to play in his first home match for the Warriors after being named in the squad for the final qualifier against Congo at home on March 24.

Zimbabwe need at least a point to qualify for the Afcon finals in Egypt in June.

Mudimu told The Sports Hub in an interview this week that he is ready for the biggest match of his international football career thus far.

"As much as everyone must be looking forward to the big encounter, we must know that this is a game that has huge stakes both for Congo and the Warriors," Mudimu said.

"It's simple for myself really. We must all be ready for the fight of our lives and be ready to give everything we have because I believe Congo won't be push-overs. I believe in my team and I believe in my country. With hard work, unity and dedication, we can do this and qualify."

Harare-born Mudimu left Zimbabwe for the UK when he was "five or six-years-old" and having lived in Hertfordshire and London, now stays in north Manchester.

He began his junior football career at Sheffield Wednesday before moving to Stalybridge Celtic in Manchester.

He has also played for Radcliffe Borough, Northwich Victoria and Stockport Town in the lower echelons of English football before joining Cefn Druids in July 2017, where he went on to score eight goals in his debut season playing as a central midfielder.

Iimpressive performances for the Welsh club over the last couple of seasons have brought him to the attention of a number of English Football League clubs.

Although his club has failed to replicate last season's form when they qualified for the Uefa Europa League, Mudimu is hoping for success with the Warriors as he looks to realise his goal of playing at Afcon.

"This season's not gone as planned, but it's a massive learning curve for everyone in my eyes. I'm always grateful to God for giving me the blessing to play football. It's been a much tougher season this time round. With Europa League hopes gone, the team's focusing on our cup games and finishing as high as we can in the league this year," Mudimu said.

"But being able to take part and have an opportunity to play in a big tournament such as Afcon would be a dream come true, you know. I'm working every day for opportunities like this to help my country succeed in huge competitions like this. It would mean the world for the Warriors to qualify and be part of something great like so."

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