Zimbabweans in the PSL: Four newcomers tipped to shine

Teenage Hadebe of Kaizer Chiefs Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

The Absa Premiership has long been a popular hunting ground for Zimbabwean talent and this PSL season is no different, with some of the nation's talents already making waves in the PSL

In this feature, KweséESPN profiles four new faces in the division who have the potential to become big stars in the South African top flight.

Teenage Hadebe, 22, Kaizer Chiefs

When Hadebe was snatched by Kaizer Chiefs from Zimbabwe's Chicken Inn last June, it was widely expected that he would spend his debut Absa Premiership season on the periphery of first-team action as he got to grips with life a new league.

There were even concerns that the move would ultimately prove counterproductive for a promising young defender desperately needing more gametime to continue his development after breaking into the Zimbabwe team.

Yet the Bantu Rovers product has seamlessly slotted into the heart of the Chiefs defence, showing no ill effects from a lengthy injury lay-off at the beginning of the season and playing every minute of the team's last nine league matches.

Hadebe's time in the limelight is well deserved, with his cool head, tough tackling and readiness to initiate attacks from the back making him an exciting prospect.

He had already impressed coach Steve Komphela by the time he sustained a serious ankle injury at the start of the campaign.

"The centre-back Hadebe did well for the first time playing with this team and to perform like that I will give him 8 of 10," Komphela said after a preseason friendly against Botswana's Township Rollers back in July.

Hadebe's excellent form comes at a crucial time for Zimbabwe, with new coach Sunday Chidzambwa facing the onerous task of reconstituting virtually the team's entire defensive line ahead of the resumption of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September.

The 22-year-old was already in the Warriors frame by the time he joined Chiefs, having been in the Zimbabwe squad at the 2017 AFCON finals, although he did not feature.

He was to soon make his competitive debut however, partnering Patson Jaure in the heart of defence as Zimbabwe beat Liberia 3-0 in the opening round of the 2017 AFCON qualifiers.

Recently, his performances at Chiefs - as he's kept Eric Mathoho out of the starting XI - have provided a clearer indication of his talent.

Talent Chawapiwa, 25, Baroka FC

Chawapiwa's ascendency to the big stage, when it eventually came, was swift and dramatic.

After spending much of his career tucked away at smaller clubs back in Zimbabwe, where his momentum was often disrupted by long-term injuries, he emerged to dazzle audiences with his speed and skill at the COSAFA tournament last year.

A transfer to Baroka FC in the PSL was in line, yet it is only in recent matches that the Friendly Academy product has started to show glimpses of his menacing wing play.

A return of one goal and four assists in 16 appearances remains pretty modest, but Chawapiwa looks primed to boost his numbers as he gradually establishes a foothold in the Baroka team.

He will definitely need to show more in terms of output if he is to force his way into a Zimbabwe team boasting some healthy competition in the same wide midfield areas where he thrives.

Chawapiwa may have performed much better that Kuda Mahachi as Baroka played out a 2-2 draw against Golden Arrows on Sunday, but it is his compatriot who is way ahead in the Warriors pecking order.

However, Chawapiwa for his part brings his own unique qualities to the table, as his performance at the COSAFA testifies.

His pace is unmatched, but he also boasts some remarkable skill and eye for a killer pass. As a package he looks more complete than some of his rivals.

Walter Musona, 22, Polokwane City

Musona seems to be finally coming to life at Polokwane City, starting six of the last seven matches and generally impressing with his all-round displays.

Creative, skilful and dangerous in front of goal, Musona's resurgence could prove another positive development for Zimbabwean football.

A brilliantly executed free kick as Polokwane beat Mamelodi Sundowns 3-2 early this month served notice of the prodigious talent of a player who averaged nine goals a season during three years at FC Platinum.

He has scored four in 15 appearances at Polokwane, but he will need to do more by way of creating chances for teammates.

Musona's international career is yet to really take off, and the stage is his in the Absa Premiership to prove he has the quality to make a difference for Zimbabwe.

Marshall Munetsi, 21, Orlando Pirates

After making 32 appearances in all competitions on loan at Baroka last season, Munetsi disappeared from the scene altogether in the first half of this season, as he was initially recalled to Orlando Pirates before a deadline-day loan move to Cape Town City collapsed.

There were no attempts to ship him out again during the midseason transfer window though, perhaps an indication that the versatile Harare-born star had done enough to prove he was ready to compete at the Soweto giants.

He has so far started one match, making another two appearance from the bench in a development which suggests he is not too far from coach Milutin Sredojevic's plans after all.

It was also interesting to see the Serbian deploying Munetsi in central defence on his Pirates debut against Baroka early this month.

The 21-year-old looked at home in the position, using his strength, height and excellent reading of the game to help shut out his former teammates.

If he can continue in that role and nail down a starting berth, Munetsi can fancy his chances of emerging as the natural partner for Hadebe in the centre of the Zimbabwe defence.