By Robson Sharuko
Zimbabwe international forward, Nyasha Mushekwi, has now taken his tally to 120 goals, in his career in foreign leagues, in an adventure which has taken him to four countries, and three continents.
It represents a remarkable return for someone, whose first love was basketball, before Moses Chunga took a chance on him, to convert his power and passion, into a striker who could be used to bully defences, into submission.
Mushekwi, who is set to turn 34 on August 21, scored his 120th goal, in his last appearance for his Chinese League One side, Zhejiang Greentown, against Xinjiang Tianshan, two weeks ago.
The big forward converted a penalty, in the 11th minute, and further goals from Di Gao, Jin Cheng and Nok-Hang Leung, completed a 4-1 victory, for Greentown. They are in second place, in the race for a place, in the Chinese Super League.
It was the final match of the first phase of the championship race, which is being played in phases, in a new format.
The start of the league campaign was deferred by three weeks, from April 1 to April 24, 2021, under a format which will see the season being divided into four stages, with the first stage being completed, after 10 games. The next three phases will see identical rounds of eight matches, being played, by the clubs.
In the first stage, the 18 clubs in the league were divided into three groups, which were based on the hosts, and last season’s rankings.
The second, third and fourth stages will see the clubs in three groups being switched, based on the results of first stage, to ensure that each team can play against each other, twice, by the time the curtain comes down, on the campaign.
Mushekwi is now the leading scorer, in the Chinese second-tier league, with eight goals, in his team’s first 10 league matches, sitting one goal clear of Chinese forward, Liu Ruofan, of Chengdou Rongcheng.
Guinean international forward, Lonsana Doumbouya, of championship leaders Meizhou Hakka, is in third places, on six goals, the same number of goals as Moses Ogbu, the Nigerian forward, who plays for Wuhan Three Lions.
Brazilian forward Ademilson is on five goals. He shares joint fifth place, in the race for the Golden Boot, with Feng Boyuan, who plays for Kunshan, and Sang Yifei, of Wuhan Three Lions.
Mushekwi’s milestone goal, just before the completion of the first phase of the championship race, might not have created headlines, in this country.
But, it didn’t escape the attention of his management team, at South African agency, Prosport International.
‘‘Nyasha Mushekwi has been in fine form for Zhejiang Greentown, as he scored in their 4-1 win against Xinjiang Tianshan,’’ Prosport International, tweeted, on June 11.
‘‘Nyasha has scored three goals against Xinjiang Tianshan in the Chinese League One this season following a brace in their previous match.’’
Although the authoritative transfermarkt website, which tracks profiles and statistics of footballers, and clubs, claims Mushekwi has scored seven goals, this season, the actual number of his goals, are eight.
His last one was a landmark goal, for the Zimbabwe international forward, as he took his tally to 120 goals, since he scored his first goal, in a foreign league.
He opened his account, in his foreign adventures, in a South African Premiership match, on August 28 2010, when he scored twice for Sundowns.
Mushekwi’s brace, in that match, came in the 24 minutes he played, and helped power the Brazilians to a 2-0 victory, over Swallows.
His last brace for Greentown came in a crazy top-of-the-table match, against leaders Meizhou Hakka, which produced nine goals, with Mushekwi’s team winning the game 5-4.
He converted a penalty, and scored from open play, as Greentown somehow overturned a 0-3 deficit, in an incident-packed game, to eventually emerge 5-4 winners. Mushekwi’s completed his century of goals, in foreign leagues, in September, two years ago.
The 100th goal came in the winner for Greentown, in the 90th minute, in the 2-1 victory over Meizhou Hakka on August 18, 2019, just three days, before his 32nd birthday.
The Zimbabwean forward scored twice in that match.
He had scored 97 goals, in his foreign adventures, by the time he left Chinese Super League side Dalian, after the 2019 AFCON finals. His move was meant to pave way for Venezuelan international forward, Salomon Randon, and he stepped a league, downwards, by joining Greentown.
His 98th and 99th goals came in Greentown’s 4-1 win over Liaoning Kaixin, on August 11, that year. A week later, he completed his century of goals, for his foreign clubs, with his last-gasp winner against Meizhou Hakka.
Mushekwi goals have come for his clubs in South Africa, Sweden, Belgium and China in an adventure which started after he arrived at Sundown, in 2010.
He scored twice during his adventure in Belgium, 12 times in 21 appearances, in the Swedish top-flight league, before he moved to China, where he has played in both the Super League, and League One.
In December 2019, just a few months after completing his century of goals, in foreign leagues, Mushekwi sealed his legacy at his former local club, CAPS United.
He delivered the state-of-the-art team bus, which he secured, for the Green Machine.
The cost of acquiring the bus, branding it and paying customs duty, finally came to about US$170 000.
The delivery of the 45-seater luxury bus, in December, 2019, was timed to perfection, to coincide with the very month, which marked the 10th anniversary of his final full season, for his beloved Green Machine.
Although Mushekwi featured for CAPS United in 2010, his swansong lasted only six months, as he left for the greener pastures of South Africa, where he joined Mamelodi Sundowns.
‘‘It just felt good to fulfill what we had promised, to deliver what we had said we would give to the team and that happened in the early hours of Sunday,’’ Mushekwi said.
‘‘This is just my appreciation of what CAPS United did for me, how they accepted me and gave me a home and I will never forget the part the club played in grooming me into the footballer that I became.’’ The Herald