Zimbabwe to approach Arsenal starlet Nelson

Reiss Nelson of Arsenal... and possibly Zimbabwe? AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Zimbabwe are set to make an ambitious bid to convince talented Arsenal forward Reiss Nelson to feature for the Warriors, KweséESPN has learnt.

The 17-year-old was born in London to a Zimbabwean father and British mother. Zimbabwe -- who have yet to appoint a permanent coach after months of splitting the role among three men -- are on a drive to tap into talent emerging from among the diaspora, in an effort to end decades of disappointing performances on the international stage.

Nelson, an England youth international, has been in the spotlight since breaking into the Arsenal first team at the start of the campaign. Although his massive potential means he has every reason to fancy his chances of eventually turning out for his birth country, Zimbabwe team manager Wellington Mupandare is still determined to tempt him.

"Yes, we are interested in Nelson but we are still trying to establish contact with him, so I can't say much at the moment. We know that the player is highly rated in England and it will be difficult, but we will try our best," Mupandare told KweséESPN.

Nelson is amongst a host of exciting young stars with Zimbabwean roots who have been cropping up in England, and local football authorities are eager to bring them into the Warriors fold and broaden the team's selection base.

Four such players have been included in the squad to feature in two friendly matches against Lesotho and Namibia over the forthcoming international break. Strikers Macauley Bonne (Leyton Orient) and Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City), Celtic midfielder Kundai Benyu, and Nottingham Forest right-back Tendai Darikwa confirmed their availability for the encounters.

Other notable diaspora products being targeted include Bradford City left-back Adam Chicksen, Burnley academy winger Tinashe Chikwana, and New Zealand-based attacker Tinashe Marowa.

Harare-born Marowa, 20, bagged seven goals and three assists in 13 starts in his debut top-flight season with Tasman United last term.