KUDA Mahachi’s journey to European football started on Monday when he joined AS Monaco in the French principality for trials.
Mahachi, signed from Premier Soccer League side Bantu Rovers and loaned to Highlanders for the first half of this season by South Africa giants Mamelodi Sundowns, arrived at Chloorkop last week to finalise the trip to France before jetting off.
He was signed by the Brazilians on a five-year deal after impressing for the Warriors during the African Championships tournament in South Africa, in which the Zimbabwe national soccer team reached the semi-finals of the biannual competition.
Monaco is home to Colombian World Cup star James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, former Barcelona star Eric Abidal, former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho, Nigerian international Eldersen Uchejile, Portuguese Joao Moutinho and former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov.
On Monday, Mahachi, who played for two seasons at Chicken Inn, joined 27 other players for trials under new coach Leonardo Jardim at the world-class La Turbie training facilities.
Between Monday and Friday, the team will be involved in medical tests before they leave for Klagenfurt, Austria, where they will be based for one week. On Saturday July 12, they will play St Veit an der Glan in a friendly match to round up their camp.
According to the club’s website, the team will head to Austria for a first training camp, followed by a tour of Colombia before finishing in London for the Emirates Cup, where they will play English Premier League giants Arsenal.
They will return to La Turbie for two days before leaving for Colombia for the Copa EuroAmerica from July 17-20. From July 20-24, they will be in Miami in the United States before they return to France.
Monaco will play Italian side Parma on July 28 before the Emirates Cup in London in early August where they will play Valencia and Arsenal, by which time Mahachi would have an idea of his fate. The transfer window will be closing on August 31.
The French Ligue One side, who has qualified for the Uefa Champions League are owned by billionaire Russian Dmitry Yevgenyevich Rybolovlev. They parted ways with coach Claudio Ranieri despite their success and replaced him with Jardim – the Sporting Lisbon manager.
In 2010 Rybolovlev ranked 79th in Forbes’ billionaire’s list. In 2014, he was ranked 147 among Forbes billionaires, with a net worth of $8,8 billion. On May 19 2014 a Swiss court ordered him to pay over $4,5 billion to his ex-wife Elena.
Should Mahachi make the grade, he will become the fifth Zimbabwean to play in France after Benjani Mwaruwari – who played for AJ Auxerre before he moved to England and later South Africa – Harlington Shereni who was at Guingamp and Ovidy Karuru, who featured for US Boulogne before moving to Belgium.
Youth international Marvelous Nakamba, Mahachi’s former teammate at Bantu Rovers is at Ligue 2 side AS Nancy.
Zimbabwean players have made South Africa their preferred destination in the last few years and that has contributed to the Warriors poor performances in the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers.
Last month, the Warriors were booted out of the Afcon 2015 qualifiers after losing 2-3 to Tanzania in aggregate.
Save for Knowledge Musona, who missed the two matches against Tanzania, and who is returning to Europe, close to 10 players are set to join various South African clubs during the current transfer window.
Hwange defender Eric Chipeta has already joined Chippa United. Milton Ncube, formerly of Highlanders and his teammate at the Bulawayo giants Peter Moyo, have moved to Ajax Cape Town and Mpumalanga Black Aces respectively.
Rodwell Chinyengetere and Danny Phiri are on trials at Polokwane City. Still in the same South African league, Denver Mukamba might be loaned out by Bidvest Wits after they signed Zambian international skipper Chris Katongo.
A number of players from Dynamos – Rodreck Mutuma, Tafadzwa Rusike, Devon Chafa, Stephen Alimenda and Ronald Chitiyo – are also looking at making moves this month. Mutuma was previously at Bloemfontein Celtic while Rusike was at Ajax Cape Town.