By Robson Sharuko
Sweden might be gripped in the euphoria of their team’s World Cup quarter-final showdown against England tomorrow, but Zimbabwe international striker Tino Kadewere’s serious injury has squeezed itself into the football narrative in that country amid revelations he could be out for at least 10 weeks.
Swedish newspapers are awash with stories of their team’s pending World Cup battle against the Three Lions and for another football article, which is not related to the show in Russia, to attract huge coverage, means it’s a subject of high importance in that country.
And, this country, too.
This week, Kadewere’s serious injury — which effectively rules him out of the Warriors’ AFCON qualifier against Congo-Brazzaville on September 7 — has been trending in the main newspapers in Sweden in a country whose attention is firmly fixed on its World Cup quarter-final showdown against England tomorrow.
The lanky forward, who was one of the stars of the Warriors when they retained their COSAFA Cup title in South Africa recently, scoring twice in the final against Zambia, including a last-gasp equaliser, was injured during a friendly match against Danish side Aarhus last Saturday ahead of resumption of matches in the Swedish top-flight league this weekend.
The injury also rules him out of his team’s UEFA Europa League second round qualifying matches against Ukrainian side Mariupol whose first leg will be on July 26 with the second leg on August 2.
Another Zimbabwe international footballer, Alec Mudimu, saw his Europa League adventure end at the first hurdle when his Welsh side CEFN Druids were knocked out of the tournament last night after falling 0-1 in the second leg to Trakai of Lithuania.
The two teams had shared the spoils in the first leg in Wales last week.
Mudimu made the starting XI last night, just like he did in the first leg in Wales, but he could not help his team — the oldest football club in Wales who were founded in 1872 — avoid a painful elimination with a penalty converted by Bilyatetdinov making the difference.
Kadewere impressed many Warriors fans when he featured during the COSAFA Cup and was expected to be a key figure for the real deal, the AFCON qualifiers, which resume with a tough away battle against Congo-Brazzaville on September 7.
The Warriors will then face another tough away match against the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa on October 10 before they return home, three days later, for another duel against the Congolese in what could be the defining period of their campaign.
An away trip to Liberia on November 16 will follow before the Warriors complete their campaign with a home date against Congo-Brazzaville on March 22 next year.
Warriors skipper, Knowledge Musona, leads the goal-scoring charts in the qualifiers, after one round of matches, following his superb hat-trick which destroyed Liberia 3-0 in June last year while DRC forward, Cedric Bakambu, is in second place with two goals.
Kadewere posted images of his heavily strapped left leg, which suffered significant ligament damage, on social media yesterday as he started his rehabilitation exercise, after the extent of his injury was finally revealed by the team doctors.
The Zimbabwean leads the goal-scorers’ charts in Sweden with eight goals in 12 matches and has become a star attraction in the league amid reports he is being monitored by clubs from the German Bundesliga.
‘’It has taken some time for us to reveal the extent of the injury because we have had to do different tests,’’ club boss Christian Andersson revealed.
‘’We have now discovered he has an internal ligament injury in his knee that will leave him out of play for 8-10 weeks.’’
Kadewere said he expects to bounce back after the latest injury scare.
“I still feel pretty good,” he said. “I did not know what it was, at least now I know that and what to work with to come back.
‘’It is obviously boring but it is also part of the football at the same time. Now, the only thing that matters to me is to fix this and come back even stronger.’’
There had been fears that Kadewere was going to miss the rest of the season but Andersson said medical tests had revealed otherwise and the forward could be out for between eight and 10 weeks.
After that, he could then start a period of being prepared to return to competitive matches.
“I was worried about a worse injury,” Kadewere said.
“Thank you all for the glorious messages, I will make sure that I work even extra hard and will return an animal #Godaboveall.”
A number of fans took to social media to wish Kadewere a quick return with even one support of Turkish giants, Galatasaray, joining the conversation and asking him to come and play for Norman Mapeza’s former team.
“King Tino! Get well and hope to see you playing again soon,’’ Jacob Lagerstedt said on Instagram while Lasse Dif, another fan, said, “Tino you are a beast — take this as an opportunity to improve yourself even further.
“We are all behind you every day (and also please sign a longer contract).”
Leonard Rastner said, “You (will) come back stronger than ever! I know that King! You’re the best in Allsvenskan right now. You are the King.”
Kadewere’s stock has risen significantly after helping his Swedish side win the country’s main knock-out football tournament, the Svenska Cup, last season and book a place in the Europa League.
A member of a family with a tradition of doing well in football, with all his brothers said to have been better footballers than him before their careers were cruelly cut short by injuries which seemed to stalk them, the 22-year-old Kadewere has already been praised by Moses Chunga as a player who could soon explode into a real gem. The Herald