Kadewere: I'm convinced we will make Zimbabwe smile
Tino Kadewere has been shining in French football
The striker believes Zimbabwe can reach Qatar 2022
They face Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia in African qualifying
Football is a family affair in the Kadewere household. Born on 5 January 1996, in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, Philana Tinotenda, or Tino as he is better known, is the youngest of four boys who all developed a passion for the game when they were growing up.
Their father, Onias, ran a football academy in a suburb of the city and it was there that Tino began learning his trade at the age of six, regularly attending training sessions. With his coaching father and his three brothers – Prosper, Prince and Pardon, all of whom played the game professionally in the country – Tino was seemingly destined become a footballer himself.
“Growing up in that environment has had a big part to play in my career being a success,” Tino told FIFA.com. “My father had a huge role in particular. He always looked after me and his advice and support were vital. It’s all helped me become who I am today.”
“We could see straightaway that he had natural talent. We didn’t have much when we were young and we played barefoot, but with Tino it was different. We had enough to buy him boots and a ball and it was all worth it. He always played in higher age groups and it was the same in the national youth teams too,” Prosper Kadewere.
Europe, here I come!
Tino’s father died in 2015. Ready by this time to fly the nest, that same year he left Harare City FC, where he had perfected his skills, for the Swedish league.
“Playing in Europe was a dream that came true for me and it was a real pity I couldn’t share it with him,” said the forward. “But wherever he is, I know that he’s proud of me and I can feel that he’s still watching over me.”
His early days with Djurgardens, where he wasted little time in showing his finishing skills, coincided with the start of his international career. The goals and caps – 15 of them to date – came thick and fast before he decided to try his luck with Ligue 2 side Le Havre in France. He showed he belonged by helping himself to 26 goals in 50 matches across a season and a half, a haul that prompted Lyon to sign him up for the 2020/21 season.
“I’m taking it step by step,” he said. “I wanted to get acclimatised to Europe first of all and I chose Sweden to do that because they speak perfect English there. Then I had the chance to go to France and play for Le Havre and Lyon, two of the country’s legendary teams. The history behind clubs has been an important factor in the career choices I’ve made.”
Next stop Qatar?
The history of the Warriors, Zimbabwe’s national team, is also dear to him. Indeed, national idol Moses Chunga is among Kadewere’s biggest role models, while Zimbabwe’s 2-2 draw with Algeria at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2017 is his favourite match.
“It’s a huge honour to be able to play for your country and I’ll never tire of seeing my name on the squad lists,” Tino said. “Of course, every national team goes through ups and downs, but I’m convinced that the day will come when we will make the whole country smile.”
That day could come sooner rather than later. The Warriors have progressed past the first round of the African qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and will now take on Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia in Group G in round two of the preliminaries.
“We all know that the road leading to the World Cup is long and winding, but that’s the goal that we’ve set ourselves. Obviously, we’re going to need to work hard to achieve it but we’ve got some solid foundations to build on. We’ve got real talent in the team and we’re a well-oiled unit that’s been playing together for few years now. That’s a definite asset for us.”
The Warriors certainly seem to be on the up, having managed to qualify for the last two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, something they last achieved in 2004 and 2006.
“The main objective is the World Cup, though,” said Kadewere, before giving a reminder that in his case football is very much a family business: “That’s my biggest wish. That and for my family to be proud of me.”