The COSAFA Castle Cup has afforded many players a breakthrough onto the international stage in the 20 years since the tournament first started but few with as dramatic a rise as Blessing Majarira of Zimbabwe.
The 28-year-old was playing rural football in the Mutasa District just a couple of years ago but, contrary to all conventional wisdom, has risen to a place in the national team, an international debut and a goal at the Cosafa Castle Cup despite the fact he is a player in Zimbabwe’s second division.
Majarira was a surprise pick when Zimbabwe named their squad for the annual southern African championship but coach Sunday Chidzambwa explained that he had seen the player and thought his raw power could come in handy.
“He has something like 11 goals in 10 matches in our second division so why not expose him to a higher level and see what happens. I had seen him play in some of the pre-season friendlies and told myself to keep an eye out for him in future.”
Chidzambwa’s faith was repaid on Monday at the start of this year’s Cosafa Castle Cup when Majarira came on as a late substitute for Zimbabwe in their opening Group B match against Mozambique. He had barely been on the field when he netted the fourth goal in a comprehensive win.
On Wednesday, Majarira was given a chance to prove himself even further with a starting berth in the team as Chidzambwa made just one change to his winning line-up for the top of the table clash with Madagascar. Majarira found the going tough and was taken off at half-time but the team are confident he will still prove his worth.
And back home in Zimbabwe, clubs are queuing to prise him away from promotion-chasing Herrentals of Harare, where he has been playing.
Majarira is still essentially an amateur. He works as a driver and builder for the Herrrental Group of Colleges and last weeks have been whirlwind. “I wouldn’t want to lie but it was a real surprise when I was called up. I really needed to use this chance because you don’t get opportunities like this every day,” he told the Zimbabwean media.