Former Zimbabwe national team midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha was a stalwart of the side for more than a decade, which included two appearances in the COSAFA Castle Cup.
One of the finest central midfielders to come out of the Southern African region, Nengomasha was a star for top South African side Kaizer Chiefs, and he believes there are many more players just waiting to be discovered at this year’s tournament in South Africa that runs from June 25-July 9.
What does the COSAFA Castle Cup mean to you?
It’s an opportunity for the best talent to be discovered. There are not many scouts who usually travel to a country like Zimbabwe. When we are playing international football most are just watching on TV. And many eyes are on West Africa in any event, as they dominate the number of players who go to Europe each year. So for teams like Swaziland, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, it is good that the COSAFA Castle Cup gets the exposure it does.
Are you looking forward to this year’s tournament in South Africa’s North West province?
There are many potential talents to be discovered through the region, and I am sure this year we will see them in action. It is very exciting!
You were part of the Zimbabwe squad that was stunned by Swaziland in Bulawayo in 2002. We have also seen some surprises in recent years at the tournament. It seems the gap between sides is closing?
I was sitting on the bench for that match against Swaziland! But the competitiveness was very high, you would think that a so-called small team [like Swaziland] would really struggle coming to Bulawayo. I mean, that Zimbabwe team had [current coach] Norman Mapeza coming from Turkey, even Peter [Ndlovu] was there, so it was shocking. But it was amazing how much Swaziland were running and how willing they were to compete.
Zimbabwe last lifted the COSAFA Castle Cup on home soil in 2009, and have four titles to date. Can they make it five this year?
Zimbabwe are not called ‘The Warriors’ for nothing, you will see the way we qualified for the last African Nations Cup [in Gabon], we were the only country from the Southern African region to qualify. And with the new president [Dr Phillip Chiyangwa], he wants us to compete, so I am sure the team will go to South Africa, do the job and take the trophy back to Harare.