HARARE – Midfielder Andy Rinomhota, who capped his international debut for Zimbabwe with an outstanding performance against Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday, is now hopeful of a long international career following the draw with the Super Eagles.

Zimbabwe outplayed the fancied Nigerians in nearly all areas of the match in Rwanda and many felt the Warriors had done sufficiently well enough to emerge with much more than the 1-1 draw.

Leeds-born Rinomhota, the 26-year-old son of a Zimbabwean father and Welsh mother, however quickly put behind him the slight disappointment of not begging the three points in his maiden Warriors appearance, commenting that team has proved that it can be “a force” in these World Cup qualification campaign.

“I’m really happy to make my debut, I was excited going into the match,” Rinomhota told Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) media after the Nigeria clash.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match, but the bigger the match the bigger the opportunity for the team. So I was really looking forward to it before kick-off and even during the game. It felt good to be out there, it felt good putting on the jersey. So I’m just looking forward to many more games to come now. Playing for the Warriors is a very proud moment for me, and even for my family. (I) had a lot of talks with them building up to the game and them saying how proud they were of me. So it wasn’t just going out there performing for me and the team, but for my family as well so hopefully I’ve done enough for them to be proud.

“I was just a good moment all-round and like I said, (I’m) really happy to make my debut. Hopefully it is the first of many games to come.”

The Warriors, with two points now in Group C after opening with a nil all draw against Rwanda, will now return to the World Cup qualifiers next June. They will restart against Lesotho.

Cardiff City midfielder Rinomhota, who only trained with his new teammates for the first time on the eve of the Nigeria match, said the commendable performance against continental power and six-time World Cup participants is a sign that Zimbabwe can challenge the best Africa has to offer.   

“Going against Nigeria was a tough test for my first game, but I think the team withstood the challenge very well, matched them toe-for-toe, even against some difficult decisions and certain circumstances during the game,” said Rinomhota, who admirably looked in sync with his teammates despite belatedly joining the squad.

Andy Rinomhota in training with Zimbabwe on the eve of his international debut.

“We were able to showcase what we can do, not just defend against a good team in Nigeria, but we implemented our style on them – creating a lot of chances. I think we could have even won the game in the end so I think it shows where we are as a team even after not spending a lot of time together. Few of us even had two to three sessions before (the game). So it just shows what we can do with such little time. Now it’s just a process of building, and working on the foundation that the coach has built and just taking it to the next step. It’s really exciting times going forward with this team. Looking at today (Sunday), it shows we are serious and we can be a force. We are just looking forward to making the country proud.”


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