Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
NYASHA MUSHEKWI is setting Swedish football alight, and could be attracting the attention of the world’s major clubs, after becoming the second Zimbabwean footballer to lead the Golden Boot race in a European top-flight league.
The big forward, whose career has been ravaged by injury, has exploded in the Allsvenskan — ranked by Uefa as a stronger league than the Scottish Premiership — and sits on top of the goal-scoring charts in Sweden’s top-flight league with seven goals for his club Djurgardens.
The Swedish top-flight league got underway at the start of last month and only eight league games have been played so far.
Mushekwi, who turns 27 on August 21, has been in red-hot scoring form for Djurgardens, a Stockholm club he joined in March this year on loan from Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, and his goals have catapulted him into the spotlight.
His exploits come six years after another Zimbabwean striker, Takesure Chinyama, took Polish football by storm and made history as the first non-European player to win the Golden Boot in the Ekstraklasa in May 2009.
Chinyama was offered a chance to move to the Bundesliga and join Eintracht Frankfurt, then a top team in Europe, but a huge selling price put on his head by Legia Warsaw destroyed his dreams for a breakthrough.
Mushekwi’s agents know that their man is making a similar impact and beginning to attract attention from Europe’s big clubs following his storming start to life in the Swedish top-flight league.
Originally brought in as cover, for the injuries that had rocked the 11-time Swedish champions, who are searching for their first league title since 2005, Mushekwi has shaken the Allsvenskan with his goals and made a huge impression on his new paymasters.
After picking just one point, from their first three league games following a 1-2 home loss to Elfsborg, a 1-1 away draw at Hacken and a 1-2 home loss to Hammerby, Djurgardens have found their touch, which has coincided with Mushekwi’s goal-scoring spree, to win their last five league matches.
And, in their last game, the Zimbabwea, who has been nicknamed “SuperMush”, was the hero with a double strike that powered his club to a 3-2 away win over Ativaderg in a five-goal thriller.
Mushekwi struck the equaliser, in the 63rd minute, after the home side had taken a 2-1 lead, in a game of fluctuating fortunes for both sides, and then, with just five minutes left in regulation time, the former CAPS United star was on hand to grab the winner.
That was his seventh goal of the season and pushed him to the top of the goalscorers’ charts while his team have moved into fourth place in the Swedish top-flight league with 16 points from their eight games, only three points adrift of leaders IFK Goteborg.
Defending champions, Malmo, are in second place with 18 points from their eight matches, unbeaten so far this season, and only a point behind the leaders, and two points ahead of Mushekwi’s team.
Mushekwi — with five goals in his last four matches — has scored one goal better than Norwegian striker, Jo Inge Berget, who plays for champions Malmo, while Henok Goitom, Emir Kujovic and Johan Orem are bracketed on five goals.
The Zimbabwean striker’s goals have also pushed Djugardens into second place, in terms of goals scored in the league so far this season, with 17 goals, and they are two goals behind champions Malmo, who played in the Uefa Champions League group stages this season that featured Juventus who battle Real Madrid in a semi-final showdown tonight.
Djurgårdens, who play their home matches on the Tele2 Arena, a 30 000-seater stadium that is the second biggest among those being used by Swedish top-flight clubs after AIK Stockholm’s 50 000-seater Friends Arena, have so far registered the biggest victory of the new season.
They hammered Gefle 5-1 in that match.
Mushekwi’s team is dominated by Swedes but has a number of players from Norway, Bosnia Herzegovina, South Korea while Sam Johnson, of Liberia, and Omar Colley of The Gambia, are his African teammates.
The Zimbabwean appeared to be fulfilling the expectations of Djurgardens sports director, Bosse Andersson, who described the bustling forward as a special player when the Stockholm club was making its attempts to sign him two months ago.
“We need Mushekwi because we have had some injuries to some of our strikers,” Andersson told Fotboll Direkt.
“He is an educated and intelligent player who will broaden our options upfront as well as increase competition in the squad.”
Djurgaderns have won the league championship in 2002, 2003 and 2005, and have 11 titles under their belt, while they have won the Swedish Cup four times and played six times in the Uefa Champions League, three times in the old Uefa Cup Winners Cup and seven times in the Uefa Ueropa League. The Allsenska is ranked by Uefa to be stronger than the Danish SuperLiga and the Scottish Premiership but Mushekwi and his handlers know that the real deal, the big money and the better football, is played in the countries south of Sweden on mainland Europe.
With his huge frame, there is no doubt that, should he continue to score goals at the rate he has been scoring them in recent weeks, Mushekwi will attract the interests of bigger and better clubs from tougher leagues in Europe.