Munetsi’s ambivalent Orlando homecoming

There was a time when Marshall Munetsi, while contracted to Orlando Pirates, didn’t play any football for six months.

The Mabvuku-bred midfielder returned to Pirates after a successful loan stint at Baroka ahead of the 2017/2018 season but the Buccaneers did not register him, forcing him to sit out for half a year.

His was a perfect example of not being trusted to deliver, as two different coaches —Ertugral Muhsin and Milutin Sredojevic, better known as Micho, did not have faith in the Zimbabwean star.

When he was finally given the chance to play, Munetsi was told he would be doing so in an unfamiliar position —in central defence.

He didn’t care, all he wanted was to play football.

Pirates was home to Munetsi for a very difficult three years, during which he made 24 appearances in the iconic black and white shirt before moving to French top-flight side Stade de Reims in June 2019.

Nearly five years after leaving Pirates, during which he has rubbed shoulders with some of world football’s iconic stars including Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Neymar and Kylian Mpappe, Munetsi returns to the Orlando Stadium a transformed star and for a different mission.

Munetsi will captain Zimbabwe in a 2026 World Cup qualifier against Lesotho there tomorrow as the Warriors resume their campaign, with the aim of booking their maiden appearance at the global spectacle, which will be co-hosted by Mexico, the United States and Canada.

As usual, he feels honoured to represent his country and is very much ready for the assignment.

“It’s always a privilege to be back representing our country and I’m just happy that most of the guys have made it”, Munetsi said.

The Warriors skipper warned his teammates not to undermine Lesotho.

“We have seen Lesotho draw with Nigeria so it’s obviously a tough game. Every game is a challenge for us, we are obviously not thinking about South Africa yet because Lesotho are no pushovers,” said Munetsi.

The Warriors will for the second time in the campaign play a home game outside Zimbabwe as the country is still without a stadium fit to host international matches but Munetsi insists they will still feel at home.

“I won’t even mention the (fans) that are back home, I will mention the ones that are here in South Africa because a lot of our people are here (in South Africa).  Orlando is also my home, so I urge them to come,” said Munetsi.

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