Liverpool defender Isaac Mabaya has been called up to the Zimbabwe national team for this month’s break, but there are doubts whether he will accept it.
Mabaya has endured a difficult time with injury since impressing with the first team in pre-season last year, with a series of issues limiting his minutes.
But that has not deterred Zimbabwe manager Baltemar Brito from including him in his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Rwanda (Nov 15) and Nigeria (Nov 19).
The 19-year-old has been named in a provisional 27-man group ahead of the start of the CAF cycle of qualification, along with eight others based in the UK.
He is eligible through his parents, who are both Zimbabwean, though Mabaya has previously represented England at youth level having been born in Preston.
?? #LFC youngster Isaac Mabaya (19) has been named in the provisional Zimbabwe squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Rwanda and Nigeria.
He has previously rejected call-up attempts and has been injured for two months, so not sure how it will work exactly. pic.twitter.com/jleer01MSq
— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) November 2, 2023
It would be something of a surprise to see the right-back, who can also play in midfield, join up with the Warriors, having previously turned down approaches.
“He does not have dual-citizenship,” Mabaya’s father, David, told the Herald in March of last year.
“We realised it’s too complicated to play for Zimbabwe, [with] passports etc., it’s a bit of a hassle.”
However, it remains to be seen whether that stance has changed in the last 20 months, with Zimbabwe clearly making an effort to attract young talent.
Brito has also called up Brentford‘s Marley Tavaziva, 18, Wolves‘ Leon Chiwome, 17, Leicester‘s Tawanda Maswanhise, 20, and Reading’s Tivonge Rushesha, 21, for possible debuts.
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – Friday, August 25, 2023: Isaac Mabaya of Liverpool and Princewill Ehibhatiomhanib of Southampton. during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Southampton FC Under-21’s and Liverpool FC Under-21’s at the Snows Stadium. (Pic by Robin Jones/Propaganda)SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – Friday, August 25, 2023: Isaac Mabaya of Liverpool and Princewill Ehibhatiomhanib of Southampton. during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Southampton FC Under-21’s and Liverpool FC Under-21’s at the Snows Stadium. (Pic by Robin Jones/Propaganda)
Luton midfielder Marvelous Nakamba is the most high-profile player in a Zimbabwe squad which also includes ex-Everton defender Brendan Galloway.
If Mabaya were to link up with the national team, he would be expected to report for a training camp in Rwanda on November 13.
Given his injury situation and the lack of interest amid previous contact with the Zimbabwe FA, however, the teenager is more likely to stay on Merseyside. ThisIsAnifield