BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
VITALIS Takawira Jr’s path to the top level of professional football has certainly been longer than that of his father, who was affectionately known as “Digital” at the peak of his footballing prowess.
A firm favourite of the fans with his dribbling skills and goal scoring exploits, ‘Digital’ as Takawira Snr is affectionately known was one of the stars of the Reinhard Fabisch-coached famous Dream Team side which almost qualified for the 1994 World Cup.
Takawira Snr also enjoyed a successful professional career, which started at Harare giants Dynamos before he moved to Swiss side FC Winterthur and later to the US, where he achieved legendary status at Major League Soccer side at Kansas City Wiz (now Sporting Kansas City).
After coming through the junior ranks of the Major League Soccer giants Chicago Fire a few years ago, Takawira Jr was tipped for an early breakthrough to the top of professional football in the US.
And although he is yet to reach the same heights scaled by his father during his successful playing career he continues to prove that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with his goal scoring prowess for his lower tier side Muskegon Risers.
Takawira Jr has been in irresistible form for the Michigan-based club that competes in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) which is the fifth tier of professional football in the US.
The 23 year-old forward who is blessed with raw pace, silky skills and an eye for goal continued with his fine form for Muskegon Risers on Friday night after scoring four goals to inspire his side to a 5-2 win against Duluth FC in the NPSL Midwest Region semifinals.
The 23-year-old US-born forward scored twice in the first half to level the scores after trailing 0-2 in the first 10 minutes of the game before scoring twice in the second half to complete his quadruple.
Muskegon Risers will now face Cleveland SC in Sunday’s Midwest Regional finals and have also automatically qualified for the 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The national tournament is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States and features 100 teams from across four professional leagues, including Major League Soccer (MLS).
Takawira Jr has been enjoying an impressive season for the Risers in the Great Lakes Conference league scoring seven goals in nine matches to win the championship and sent his team to the NPSL playoffs.
He now has 11 goals in 10 appearances for the Risers and was selected in the Great Lakes Conference best XI of the season.
Takawira Snr told StandardSport in a recent interview that his son has big hopes to scale the same heights he reached during his career.
“He loves to learn and play soccer and he is just doing great on that,” Takawira Snr said in a previous interview with StandardSport. “He hears a lot about my playing days so he is eager to surpass me. He keeps telling me that he is going to be better than me.”
Takawira Jr toured the country three years ago with Team Zimbabwe UK – a team of young footballers in the diaspora who have Zimbabwean roots.