By Fungai Muderere
Former Warriors captain Benjani Mwaruwari has conceded to the popular notion that his exploits in the French league were down to chance than ability.
In France, Mwaruwari turned out for AJ Auxerre, a stint he says he enjoyed after taking advantage of Djibril Cisse’s injury.
“When I joined AJ Auxerre, I was not very much sure that I was going to make it. It was all by chance that I made it into the starting team. I took advantage of Cisse’s injury. It gave me the opportunity to be seen, but I was not sure that I was going to make it,” said Mwaruwari in a telephone interview from his base in United Kingdom.
The ex-Warriors skipper heaped praise on Lyon forward Tino Kadewere.
“I was not like Kadewere who was scouted for by Lyon from a lower Division side in France. Kadewere is in his own class, he is a quality player who has adjusted to the great demands of French football, a league that has technical gifted and skilful players,” he said.
Kadewere — who was recently voted the club’s Best Signing of the Year via an Olympique Lyon social media poll — has been in dazzling in his debut season in Ligue 1.
Just like Warriors gaffer coach Zdravko Logarusic, Mwaruwari is hoping Kadewere will take his club form to the national team.
“Kadewere has done so well and my hope is that he will keep on scoring. He needs to maintain that consistency. He should just concentrate on his game, work hard and avoid getting distracted,” said Mwaruwari.
Logarusic rates Kadewere highly and he reportedly told the Pan African Football website that he would love to see the player combining well with Warriors teammates Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat, the same way he has done at Lyon with Memphis Depay and Carl Toko-Ekambi.
The 24-year-old striker has justified his US$16,5 million switch from French second-tier side Le Harve where he had acquitted himself well by scooping the Ligue 2 Golden Boot after bagging 20 goals from 24 outings.
Kadewere arrived on the French shores virtually unknown the previous season for a paltry US$2,5 million fee from Swedish side Djurgardens IF.
It was suggested that the former Harare City forward would need more time to settle in the French top tier but, the moment he got his name on the score sheet in the 3-2 win over RC Strasbourg back in October, he has never looked back.
Kadewere scored his seventh goal in 16 appearances in Lyons’ 3-0 victory over Nantes, to take his club top of the table, just before the winter break.
The Warriors forward has struck it rich in one of Europe’s most prolific attacking trio at the moment which includes Cameroonian Carl Toko-Ekambi and their Dutch skipper, Memphis Depay, who is a target of European giants Barcelona and Juventus.
The Kadewere, Toko-Ekambo and Depay attacking trio has plundered 24 goals for Lyon this season, which makes them the best in Europe’s top football leagues.
However, Kadewere is yet to make any real impact for the Zimbabwe national team since his debut in 2015. In 17 appearances, Kadewere has scored three times in matches Zimbabwe played against Zambia and South Africa at the 2018 Cosafa tournament.
He also scored last month, when Zimbabwe lost 3-1 to Algeria in the Afcon qualifiers. The Warriors are expected to resume the qualifiers in March next year with matches against Zambia and Botswana. B-Metro