Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa is hopeful that the club’s supporters will be backing him and Zimbabwe over the next few weeks.
The 27-year-old is representing his country at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
The tournament gets underway in Egypt on the 21 June, with the final taking place four weeks later on 19 July. This means that the right-back could potentially miss the majority of pre-season.
It isn’t an ideal situation for Martin O’Neill to contend with ahead of the 2019/20 Championship campaign. However, it presents a good a opportunity for the right-back to test himself against some of the world’s best.
The Reds are travelling to Spain for a pre-season training camp on the 30 June, as confirmed by the club’s official site earlier this week. They will be staying in Alicante for a week-long trip which involves friendly matches against Dundee and Peterborough United.
Darikwa won’t be travelling with the rest of the squad, even if Zimbabwe get knocked out at the earliest opportunity. This means that he is likely to miss out on the usual team bonding that takes place over pre-season.
Not only this, but he’s currently the only right-back on the club’s books. This could mean that O’Neill has to draft in some youngsters in order to fill that position during pre-season.
This is the first opportunity that Darikwa has had to represent Zimbabwe in a major international tournament. It was an opportunity he was never going to turn down at the stage he’s at in his career.
He is hopeful that those back at the City Ground will be keeping an eye on his country’s progress in the tournament.
He told the club’s official site: “My club has been really supportive of me since I arrived in camp. I am sure everyone back in Nottingham is fully supporting Zimbabwe to do well in this tournament.
“This is a big opportunity for me personally to show my club and show everyone that I can do well on this stage against some of the best players in the world.”
Darikwa has already received a lot of support on social media. Ben Osborn recently tweeted ‘Smash it Ten’ in response to a picture the right-back posted online.
The right-back will be hoping he can return to the City Ground full of confidence after a successful tournament.