Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Ovidy Karuru a doubt for showdown against Cape Verde

By Hope Chizuzu

Ovidy Karuru has been told that he has a partial tear in his ankle, and will be out of the game for two weeks, casting a huge doubt about his availability for the 2012 Nations Cup showdown against Cape Verde in Praia on Saturday, October 8.

Ovidy Karuru in action for French Ligue 2 outfit Boulogne
Ovidy Karuru in action for French Ligue 2 outfit Boulogne

The 22-year-old midfielder, though, remains bullish about his chances of playing for the Warriors in their make-or-break tie against Cape Verde next month despite his French club rolling out a recovery programme that raises the possibility that he will miss the game. Karuru was advised on Tuesday that his injury, sustained in training with his French club US Boulogne last week, will put him on the sidelines for up to 15 days, which complicates his availability for the big game against the Atlantic Ocean islanders.

Warriors’ coach, Norman Mapeza, will feel like lightning is about to strike twice after injury ruled his biggest attacking weapon, Knowledge Musona, from the last Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia. Just as was the case with Musona, US Boulogne expect Karuru to return from injury just two or three days before the Warriors plunge into their swim-or-sink showdown against Cape Verde.

As it turned out, Musona missed the tie against Liberia although Karuru’s absence in Cape Verde would be a bigger blow for the Warriors than missing the Smiling Assassin in a home game against Liberia. Karuru has been Zimbabwe’s standout player in their last two 2012 Nations Cup qualifiers against Mali and Liberia, playing a big role as Zimbabwe clawed their way back into contention for a place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.

The midfielder was heavily involved in both goals, scored by Musona, as Zimbabwe edged Mali 2-1 – creating the first goal for the Smiling Assassin with a run from the flank and an assist and then winning the penalty for the killer second goal. Karuru was again inspirational against Liberia as he created the first goal scored by Willard Katsande, headed home the second from close range and played a big part in the third goal converted by Khama Billiat.

The Zimbabwe international is certainly enjoying a Portuguese summer in Warriors colours but a medical report on the injury he sustained last week has cast a shadow about his availability for the match against Cape Verde in Praia. The Warriors need a victory and, at the same time, hope that Mali will drop points in their match against Liberia in Monrovia on the same day, for the Zimbabweans to secure the automatic ticket to the 2012 Nations Cup finals.

Karuru said he was still sweating for fitness after he sustained his injury preparing for his club’s Friday clash against Lens, which US Boulogne lost 0-2 away from home. On Tuesday afternoon, the French club’s medical team revealed that the midfielder has a partial tear in his ankle and will be out of the game for up to 15 days.

In fact, Karuru had even feared for a longer stay on the sidelines. “I feared for the worst but when the results for the scan came,” he said. “I felt a bit relieved that it will not be too long because I do not want to miss any matches for both my club and country. It was very painful for me to miss that crucial match against Lens, because it came just on the eve of that match.

“Imagine, you are playing well, your confidence is high and you are raring to go, then you get injured just before a match you have all been waiting for. But that is football for you and I am very positive that I will mend in time for the Cape Verde match, which is crucial for us as we stand a chance of qualifying if we win.”

On Wednesday, a bullish Karuru posted on his Facebook site that he was banking on the power of prayer as he battles to beat his injury blues. “No matter what you going through, prayer is the answer in all that,” he wrote. The posting triggered a number of feedback messages from Warriors’ fans anxious to know how their star midfielder was doing in his battle against injury with all of them offering messages of support and, crucially, saying they wanted him for the Cape Verde game.

The time frame given by the medical staff at US Boulogne for recovery, falls on the same day the mercurial midfielder is supposed to be airborne to the Cape Verde capital for the big Nations Cup qualifier. His manager at Boulogne, Michel Estevan, is confident that the player will be back in the fold soon. “Ovidy is a very important player for us and we wish him a very quick recovery to be able to push us up the ladder in Ligue 2,” said Estevan. “At the moment my biggest worry is for him to be able to play for Boulogne, because they need him more than anyone else.

“We badly missed his services in the loss against Lens on Friday (last week) and the sooner he is back for us the better. But the doctors have said that MRI show that the ankle is not too bad and should heal in the time frame or sooner because now matches are coming thick and fast.” US Boulogne, without Karuru, beat En-vant Guingamp 2-0 on Tuesday night at their home base of Stade de la Liberation to move to 14th on the 20-team log with nine points, 10 off the team on top of the table, Stade de Rheim.

Former Warriors’ leftback Harlington Shereni used to play for Guingamp. The victory, at a packed Stade de la Liberation, was their first win of the season having previously drawn six times and losing once to Lens, in the first match Karuru missed, since the 3-0 win over Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on September 4. The stylish midfielder, who was beginning to find his rhythm at the club, will miss his club’s next two matches – away to Chateauroux today and at home to SC Bastia next Saturday, while recuperating.

Warriors’ coach Mapeza will be put through an emotional period having put his head on the bloc by naming just 18 players. Now he has to ponder what to do if Karuru fails to recover in time for the trip or how effective he will be coming, straight from injury, playing in perhaps his most important match for the Warriors.