As Marvelous Nakamba prepares to go into battle for Aston Villa in tonight’s league game against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, the eyes of the local football fraternity, will be for the umpteenth time, on the soft-spoken midfielder.

After his brilliant display against Leeds United, which was a gentle reminder to coach Dean Smith that the claret and blue have not been breached this season in any of the games Nakamba has featured in, one would naturally expect him to start in the middle of the park against Chris  Wilder’s charges.

The unfortunate part though is that Nakamba’s resurgence will not help in any way, Zimbabwe’s quest to book a place at AFCON for the third consecutive time.

He was barred by Villa from traveling to Zimbabwe for the watershed matches penciled for later this month, due to tight laws introduced by the British government to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

The midfielder’s absence is obviously a blow for Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic, as he (Nakamba) is a key member of the national team fold.

Nakamba was one of the players who survived Loga’s starting line-up spin after the 1-3 defeat to Algeria, which left regular players like Khama Billiat, Ovidy Karuru and Divine Lunga on the bench- that’s just how paramount the Hwange-bred midfield enforcer is, in the Warriors setup.

That being said, his absence does not tell a ‘all hope is lost’ story for Loga, in the outspoken tactician’s quest to become the first foreign coach to lead Zimbabwe to the AFCON finals.

Marshall Munetsi’s return is a huge boost for the firebrand Croat and his technical team.

The France-based midfield linchpin was the missing link in the Algeria games and his absence was clearly felt in the middle of the park.

His return, despite the Nakamba’s absence, is a solace for any Warriors fan.

Similarly, Thabani Kamusoko’s return to the Warriors squad is another welcome development, especially in the wake of the Nakamba setback.

The ZESCO United midfielder is a tried and tested solution to the protection of the Warriors back line and should deputize Nakamba well.

Go Warriors Go!