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RISING Zimbabwean teenage soccer star Joseph Matiza is on the threshold of greatness after recently passing trials at prestigious Spanish La Liga outfit Espanyol and being accepted by the European outfit.

Matiza, who was undergoing the trial stint for the second time, left in the company of another aspirant, Edias Dziva, for two weeks and arrived back home earlier this week.

The trials were made possible by Friendly Academy, which facilitates opportunities for talented young players to make a breakthrough in football at European clubs.

Former Underhill and ex-Zimbabwe Under-17 coach Partridge Muskwe, who is also a director at Friendly Academy, said the 16-year-old Matiza was destined for greatness and reckoned that being accepted into such a club was a leap in the right direction for the teenager.

“He is a very talented player and I personally believe he has what it takes to make it big in the sport because he has all the attributes required to make it in soccer. He has dedication, discipline, talent, and commitment and we at Friendly Academy are over the moon that he finally got accepted into Espanyol.

“This was his second time going for trials. The first time he went there was last December and he was told to improve on some areas. We have been working on that since then and, thankfully, it has paid off.

“Our academy sends juniors there for trials twice a year and we already have two of our juniors enrolled there. So, Matiza is the third now. Our only regret is that we cannot send more juniors due to financial constraints.”

Muskwe added that junior development was fundamental in the growth of a g national soccer team hence there was need to focus on nurturing junior players.

“The future of soccer for the country lies in these juniors. So, it’s crucial that we try as much as possible to present these juniors with opportunities to develop their skills.

“I believe that that’s the aspect that is lacking in our local soccer. Little focus is given to upcoming players. We should start harnessing that talent from a tender age and for us as an academy that is our focus,” said Muskwe.

Matiza, who is currently doing his A-Level at the Harare International School, will be enrolled at Espanyol for the next four years starting from 2015.

“If all goes well, he should be leaving in January next year. His accommodation and food during that stay will be covered by the club.

“The only costs he will be meeting is that of schooling, but all the other costs will be covered . . . it’s a great opportunity for him and we are confident he will raise the country’s flag high,” Muskwe said.

Zimbabwe has had an increase in a number of locally and foreign-based young players who are keen to play for their fatherland, pointing to a good omen for national Under-23 coach Callisto Pasuwa and his counterparts in the Under-20 and Under-17 squads.

Pasuwa, who has two major assignments with his Young Warriors squad in 2015 — the African Under-23 Championships qualifiers and the All-Africa Games qualifying campaign — has hinted that he will blend the locals with the foreign-based players.

The 44-year-old coach has already had a glimpse of some of the Zimbabwean talent such as England-based Macauley Bonne, who turns out for Colchester United, at his disposal from those playing abroad and Bonne scored in the 2-1 loss against Morocco in Agadir last month.

Source : The Herald