Strain pulls Mushekwi out of Afcon

The Chronicle

Robson Sharuko in Cairo, Egypt
NYASHA MUSHEKWI’S swansong Afcon finals is all but over after he was ruled out of the tournament for three weeks with a grade one hamstring strain.

The big forward, who is set to call time on his international career, suffered his injury in the opening match on Friday night against hosts Egypt at the Cairo International Stadium.

Warriors’ team doctor, Sonani Mudariki, revealed the striker suffered an acute injury and will need, at least, three weeks to bounce back into action.

“Nyasha will be out for about three weeks, he has a grade one hamstring strain and this was confirmed by the MRI scan,” said Mudariki.

“In Nigeria, he had no medical issues, and he went on to play a league match in China and there were no injury issues.

“He wants to play, even in the next game against Uganda but we have to protect the player and ensure that he undergoes rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately, that means he can’t play for the next three weeks and we will continue to monitor him.”

Goalkeeper, Edmore Sibanda, is also out of tonight’s match after suffering an injury in the match against Nigeria.

“He wanted to play but we have to protect him against further aggravating his anterior crucial ligament and that means he can’t play against Uganda,” said Mudariki.

Mushekwi, who turns 32 in August, played for 81 minutes in the opening match against the Pharaohs, looking isolated from the rest of his teammates and struggled to impose himself as service was severely limited, from a team that only won two corners and had only two shots on target.

He will announce his retirement from international football, on the 10th anniversary of his romance with the Warriors, at the end of this Afcon adventure, with the striker saying goodbye to a national team that is under the guidance of the same coach who gave him his breakthrough – Sunday Chidzambwa.

Two goals in the 2009 Cosafa Cup final, after a tournament blighted by the same injury concerns that continue to haunt him to this day, was a beautiful initiation into the Warriors.

Two years ago, he joined the exclusive club of the 10 players who have scored for the team at the Afcon finals.

And, when, he returns to his club duties in the Chinese Super League, it’s very likely he will under the guidance of another coach who won the La Liga title with Spanish gaffer, Rafa Benitez, reported to be on his way to take over at Dalian Yifang on a £12 million a year deal.

Should Benitez, who will leave English Premiership side Newcastle when his contract expires on Sunday, join Dalian Yifang, he will be getting five times the salary the Magpies were paying him as the Chinese Super League continues to flex its superior financial muscles.

The Times newspaper revealed Benitez was now set to open talks with Dalian Yifang to be their next manager although other news outlets said the manager could still consider remaining in England where his family still stays at home in Merseyside.

Should Benitez join Dalian Yifang, he will follow in the footsteps of Bernd Schuster, the German coach who won the La Liga title with Real Madrid in 2008, and was at the Chinese club until March last year.

Benitez also won the La Liga title in 2002 and 2004 with Valencia.

Mushekwi could also be cheered, in the event Benitez decides to take charge of Dalian Yifang, that the Spanish gaffer favours a system where his team plays with a big target man at the tip of its attack.

Benitez used big Venezuelan striker, Salomon Rondon, to good effect in that system in the English Premiership last season with the forward scoring 11 goals in 32 appearances.

That Newcastle could not commit to signing Rondon, on a permanent basis after the striker arrived on a one-season loan deal from West Bromwich Albion, was one of the issues blamed for ending Benitez’s marriage with the Magpies.

The ticking point about a permanent deal for Rondon was that he turns 30 in September and Newcastle have always had a policy of investing in younger players when it comes to long-term deals.

For Benitez to still find value, in providing a striker approaching his 30th birthday with a long-term deal, should be some good news for Mushekwi, in the event the Spaniard comes to Dalian Yifang, because the Zimbabwean forward is on the other side of 30.

However, he is likely to find a different dressing room with his Belgian teammate, Yannick Carrasco, set to move to Arsenal.