HADEBE WATCHES MANE
21 December 2016
WARRIORS young defender Teenage Hadebe says he was watching as Liverpool’s Sadio Mane sunk Everton 1-0 in the Merseyside Derby on Monday night.
But that still has not intimidated the 21-year-old as Zimbabwe start preparations for AFCON in Gabon.
The Warriors are in the same group with Senegal, Algeria and Tunisia, a group Kalisto Pasuwa’s charges are regarded as underdogs.
Being the lowest ranked team in the group, facing teams in Africa’s top 10 according to FIFA rankings, the Warriors have not been given a chance to progress from the group stages.
And as Senegalese Mane fired the warning shots against Everton at Goodison Park with an added time winner, Hadebe watched the star closely, preparing himself mentally for the January tournament.
“Football is just the same and the difference only is that they are playing at a very high level. It then demands that you just play your normal game but pay attention to detail.
“Yes, I have to watch such matches. It is important to know your opponent but I watch just like I watch any football match,” Hedebe told H-Metro.
The Chicken Inn defender is part of the AFCON provisional squad announced this week by Coach Kalisto Pasuwa.
He will also be key defender when the Warriors face Ivory Coast in a friendly on December 26 away.
During the AFCON campaign Hadebe had to live in the shadow of Sparta Prague star Costa Nhamoinesu.
Chances are high, however, that if Pasuwa decides to add more defenders in his formation to make them five, Hadebe could find himself with a big role.
“I have learned a lot from Costa (Nhamoinesu) and he is my role model at the moment. We are playing the same position, we are both left footed and he has a lot of experience.
“I like the way he encourages us as youngsters and he is a real big factor in our team,” said Hadebe.
The defender is thrilled that he is part of the squad to take the Warriors to AFCON, with the country having last made an appearance in 2006.
Back then he was only an 11-year-old still doing his primary education.
“I remember that in 2004 and 2006 Africa Cup of Nations Peter Ndlovu and then Benjani were our greatest players. Peter was a leader and I liked the way he scored goals for the national team. Benjani was the big star for the other edition.
“By 2006, I was 11 but I followed the national team closely just like any other young footballer. And at 21 now I’m on the same stage. It is a dream come true for me to be part of this great generation of players,” he said.
The left footed defender, who is comfortable with the ball and strong on set-pieces, is expected to make a move to ABSA Premiership giants Kaizer Chiefs.
Although a deal is yet to be officially confirmed, his agent has already indicated that they are finalising it.
Hadebe’s greatest disadvantage going into AFCON is that the domestic league is on off-season.
“I will have to do a lot of running, keep myself in the gym until we go into camp in the coming days,” he said.