Moffat Mungazi Sports Correspondent
MUTARE-BORN defender, Onismo Bhasera is relishing his triumphant return into the Warriors fold after helping his country secure qualification to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The seasoned fullback was in the thick of things and lasted the entire 90 minutes on the pitch as Zimbabwe got the better of Botswana in a Group H qualifier away in Francistown last Thursday. He also featured in the clash against Zambia.
Another Sakubva-bred star, Last “Lala” Jesi was an unused substitute during the Francistown match. The Al-Hilal forward earned his first senior cap in that victorious outing before making his debut against Chipolopolo four days later.
But it was the late inclusion of Bhasera, who was not in the initial provisional squad, which took many by surprise as coach, Zdravko Logarusic and his men sought to wrap up qualification.
It is not entirely amiss for those who have been following Bhasera’s game in South Africa where he has been regularly starring for his team SuperSport United as they challenge for the championship.
And the expatriate trainer’s decision was vindicated as the left-footed defender’s experience came in handy. The coach even retained him in the starting XI for the Battle of Zambezi against Zambia on Monday night despite having shuffled the pack for this dead rubber.
While in the team on merit, Bhasera was also being rewarded for his unflinching patriotism as Logarusic sang praises of him for his commitment to the national cause. The coach singled him out, among other players, for special mention.
“I only work with players who have showed commitment and unquestionable patriotism. We have players like Onismo (Bhasera), Terrence Dzvukamanje and others, who have shown that they respect national team call-up. Yet we have players who have shown utter disrespect to the same. We are not going tobe working with the many more,” Loga was quoted in the media this week.
Buoyed by that lavish endorsement from his coach and with the 2022 World Cup qualifiers looming on the horizon, if Bhasera can maintain good form and stays injury-free or clear of suspensions then he can fancy his chances of another dance with the national team.
But without getting ahead of himself, the former Kaizer Chiefs defender is basking in the glory of his latest accomplishment. He had last turned out for the Warriors in 2017.
“Nothing beats the feeling of representing one’s own by playing in the national team. It is even sweeter if the set targets are achieved. The goal has always been to have Zimbabwe compete at the Afcon finals regularly and being part of the latest cast to make it fills me with pride. This occasion is also special because it marks the third time on the trot the country has qualified for the tournament. It has been a humbling experience,” Bhasera told Post Sport.
He added that he always cherishes pulling the green and gold shirt of the Warriors and would never pass up the “honour”.
“While the call-up for the last two qualifiers came as a pleasant surprise, the dream of having another shot at the national team jersey never died in me. My feeling was that I still had something to give to the squad in terms of both a different dimension and experience.
“That said, having been there and done it with another group before, I led the boys from the back against Botswana and Zambia as one of the senior players on the park alongside captain, Knowledge Musona and his deputy, Ovidy Karuru. It was quite an enjoyable experience. One can never get enough of such moments as they hold uniquememories to treasure,” said the 33-year-old.
Bhasera was a key member of the squad which accomplished a similar feat and clinched a ticket to the 2017 finals in Gabon under Kallisto Pasuwa. It marked Zimbabwe’s return to the continental showcase after nearly a dozen years since their last appearance in 2006.
That side was captained by another Mutare son–Willard Katsande – who, just like Bhasera, cut his football teeth at famed juniors academy La Sakubva