As Matabeleland prepare to make their CONIFA Debut, their captain Praise Ndlovu is keen for his side to show off their ability.
An unknown quantity ahead of the CONIFA World Football Cup, Praise spoke of his personal pride after being named as captain.
“Representing the people of Matabeleland, representing the Matabeleland team, and representing everyone who showed support for us, is a big honour. I’m very much grateful to be given the responsibility of being the Matabeleland captain.”
Praise will be leading from the back, and he and his fellow defenders will face a tough ask against Padania in their first fixture.
“It all depends on the game that we are playing, and how the coach wants us to play. But, I think I can play any defensive position.”
Matabeleland only just managed to make it to London, with fundraising taking them over the line at the last minute. A friendly against fellow CONIFA members Darfur had to be cancelled, meaning the furthest afield the Matabeleland players have travelled is Zambia.
“We have travelled before – but only to the nearby places, other Southern African countries. This was one of the longest journeys I have had as a team.”
According to Praise, the uncertainty surrounding their attendance had a knock-on effect on the team.
“It’s normal, in terms that it can affect players both mentally, and physically. You can tell you won’t be putting your 100% in during training. But for us a team, it became a part of our motivation.”
“We said, “guys, since we have been struggling to make it to London, now finally we have made it, it’s now all up to us to show the world that we can make it, to show the world that we can do our best and to show the world that we can do more than they expect from us.
“I think for ourselves, we are not operating under any pressure. We are just here to enjoy ourselves, play our normal game.”