By Grace Chingoma and Tedious Manyepo
A complex situation surrounding Nyasha Mushekwi’s injury and interim treatment procedures have meant that the bustling striker will not be available for the Warriors’ assignments at least until he has fully healed.
Mushekwi had been recalled to the Warriors squad for the September 9 trip to face Congo in Brazzaville but niggling injury which he has had to play through left the former CAPS United and Mamelodi Sundowns man sidelined.
The 31-year forward who is the leading striker at Chinese Super League club Daliang Yifang has this time been overlooked for the tough back to back Group G clashes against the Democratic Republic of Congo, which begin in Kinshasa on October 13.
Although Mushekwi has continued to play for his club, it has emerged that he does under a heavy dosage of pain management injections that are not readily available on the domestic front.
It also emerged that the Warriors doctors recommended against a continued use of heavy doses of pain management injections on Mushekwi, arguing that was against their sports medicine ethos.
The nature of Mushekwi’s injury also requires a lot of rest.
Warriors team doctor Somani Mudariki yesterday explained the reasons behind their move to recommend that Mushekwi be left out of next week’s Nations Cup showdown between Zimbabwe and DRC despite the player featuring for his club lately.
“For us the situation is simple and straight forward. In the spirit of sports medicine, the athlete’s health takes precedence over anything else.
“We had an opportunity to discuss with Nyasha when he came last time, saw his medical papers from the club and he told us that he plays after a series of medical procedures.
“But for us as a sports medicine fraternity the athlete’s health takes precedence. We would want to have a fit, healthy player as it is in line with the principles of sports medicine.
“Pain can be managed or suppressed but in the long run the player loses out which is a disservice and will take a long time to recover.
“I wouldn’t want to comment about the Chinese medicals and what they are doing. I know he is playing for his club although he has known condition. We are simply protecting the athlete,” said Mudariki.
Amid a shortage of strikers, Dalian Yifang have been forced to field their chief striker in every game.
And they have been able to do this after administering a rigorous medical routine of pain management injections which they employ on the player so that he plays without pain.
Mushekwi is his club’s leading scorer with 12 goals and is among the leading 10 strikers on the Chinese Super League top goal scorer’s chart.
Despite an option having been available for the Warriors to also exercise the option of pain killing injections, team manager Wellington Mpandare also revealed that it would be an expensive exercise for which the senior side do not have capacity.
“Nyasha is injured for real. Some time ago, Nyasha had a broken rib but they would manage his situation so that he would play in the matches but we cannot manage that. Even if you look at the videos pertaining to the treatment that he goes through before every game you can see that we can’t do that here at the moment.
“I spoke to the doctors when he came here they looked at his situation, examined him and said they cannot manage him, he goes through a lot of injections before the game so that he can play and last for between 60 to 90 minutes.
“The challenge with his club is he is the only striker they have at the moment so they have said they will manage the injury until their last six matches and then he will go to Germany for an operation,’’ Mpandare said.
The Warriors manager said Mushekwi’s commitment to the national team’s cause has never been doubted by the technical department.
“So it is not like Nyasha is refusing to come here, he is prepared to come if our doctors say they can manage him and we play him after giving him those injections and whatever that he normally gets when he is in China.
“That’s why even when he came last month he was even prepared to go to Congo Brazzaville . . . he was prepared to go but after recommendation from our doctors we then said it was not worthwhile to take him to Congo, they said it would be risky to manage such a situation.
“I can also give an example Troy Deeney of Watford, he has an ankle injury but against Arsenal they actually injected him so that he can play and he even said it that Arsenal match he will make sure he plays with injections but with that same ankle injury it would be very difficult to play him because we don’t have the capacity to manage such injuries such as swollen injured ankle so it is a bit tricky,” said Mpandare.
Apart from Mushekwi, the Warriors have also been robbed of alternative central strikers with Tinotenda Kadewere ruled out while Evans Rusike became the latest injury casualty for Sunday Chidzambwa’s men after being told he would need three weeks to recover from ankle problem.
Chidzambwa yesterday admitted the injuries to his strikers had presented him with a challenge, which is now set to force him into reshuffling his attacking pack.
The veteran coach hinted that he could be forced to give either captain Knowledge Musona or Khama Billiat a centre-forward role in the wake of Rusike’s injury.
Rusike picked his injury in his team — SuperSport United’s MTN8 final defeat to Cape Town City at Moses Mabhida on Saturday night and will miss the top-of-the table first leg encounter between Zimbabwe and the DRC scheduled for October 13 in Kinshasa.
While Chidzambwa has drafted in Bidvest’s Terrence Dzvukamanja to replace Rusike, he revealed that either Musona or Billiat will have to lead the attack as his team will be searching for maximum points in both encounters.
“We will obviously miss Evans Rusike as he has always been our point striker and his injury is a huge blow for the team,” said Chidzambwa yesterday.
“He has been playing well and his form at his club has been quite telling. We need all the players in matches like these.
“He played very well in our previous match against Congo Brazzaville and we were looking forward to have him in the mix once again for the back-to-back clashes with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We know very well that he was going to be key in those crucial encounters.
“But, that’s what has happened. We need to craft a way forward.
“We could make some tactical changes to the strategies which we have been using. We have used Khama (Billiat) and Knowledge (Musona) in the wings with Rusike taking the centre striker’s role.
“But now that Rusike has been ruled out, we are considering shifting either Billiat or Musona to the centre.”
Chidzambwa said Billiat and Musona are proven goal-getters and will have to pin his hopes on them.
“Both of them are versatile and they will give us the goals which we are in need of in the two matches.
“Both those boys are proven goal scorers and as a team we know that we can only win matches when we score goals.
“We have since drafted in Terrence Dzvukamanja in place of Rusike and we also have Knox (Mutizwa) in the team. “Those are some of the options which we have in the team.
“We will see what we can do but we have to play our cards around Billiat and Musona.
“We wish Rusike a speedy recovery but we have equally good replacements and we can reshuffle between two of our most prolific goal scorers, Musona and Billiat,” Chidzambwa said.
While Chidzambwa believes the DRC, who are boasting an array of European based players, are a good side, he reckons his team will be gunning for maximum points.
“It will be 11 versus 11 on match day. We do not look at opponents according to where their players ply their trade from.
We are facing the DRC in must-win encounters. We have to do well and enhance our chances of qualification for the AFCON finals next year,” he said. The Herald