Blasting Tino, praising Weghorst
Sharuko on Saturday
The lanky fellow Moses Chunga told us was on the highway to heaven, some kind of football paradise, where the great ones, like Bambo himself, appear to reside.
They had met during Tino’s formative years and, when Bambo talks about young talented footballers, we tend to listen.
After all, this is the guy who gambled on his coaching career at Dynamos, by investing all his trust in a group of schoolboys, largely termed Kidznet.
That was at the turn of the millennium and the majority at the Glamour Boys didn’t share his vision because, in their world, what matters are today’s results.
And, not tomorrow’s Promised Land.
So simple a name, so nice a fellow and so talented a footballer — that’s what Bambo told us and who are we to have argued otherwise.
The guys who grew up in Highfield say it’s a game he was born to play because football runs in the Kadewere family.
His late father, Onias, was very dedicated to this game, and excelled as a player, before making an even bigger impact as a youth coach.
The great man, an oasis of football knowledge for his community, died in January 2015.
His sons also followed his path and played the game although, now again, they all seemed to run into a minefield of serious career-ending injuries.
There are many who believe Prince Kadewere was the best, in terms of natural talent, in this family of footballers.
Sadly, just like his other brothers, Prince’s career ended prematurely when the ghost of injuries struck again even though Highfield High will never forget its football genius.
Three years ago, in August, as the world battled with a pandemic called Covid-19, Prince went to a local surgery for treatment of some chest pains.
It should have been routine stuff.
But, in the Kadewere clan, nothing goes according to the routine script and, just like that, we lost Prince — a man who was so full of life it was virtually impossible to hate him.
It’s a credit to his talent that, even though he never really starred at the very top, he remains one of the greatest folk heroes in this area, when it comes to this game.
To understand this one just needs to think of the stars who have come from this neighbourhood — David Mandigora, Tapuwa Kapini, Shacky Tauro, Nesbert Saruchera, Ashley Rambanapasi, Mugove Munyorovi, Oliver Kateya, George Mandizvidza and Silver Chigwenje.
Then you have Emmanuel Nyahuma, Shadreck “Waga Waga” Dzvairo, Magarika Dzvairo, Arthur Tutani, Francis “Gazza” Jeymani, Alan Mapila and Ali Sadiki.
WELCOME TO EUROPE, THE BOY FROM FIO
In terms of making an impression, on the European fields, none of them comes closer to Tino Kadewere, the boy whose journey to those fields, was first foretold by Chunga.
He is certainly not the finest footballer to emerge from Highfield but he is the one with the biggest profile in Europe because, unlike the others, he was able to crack the code and go and play at that very high level of the game.
You can’t call him a lucky boy because he didn’t just land in France, after impressing a drunk agent, but had to take the long route of first trying his luck in Sweden.
He starred at Nyasha Mushekwi’s old team, Djurgardens IF, leading to a move to French side, Le Havre.
Now, this isn’t a club which invests in Mickey Mouse players but only deal with the ones with real potential with their roster of products looking like a ‘Who is Who’ of some of the game’s superstars.
Paul Pogba, Riyad Mahrez, Dimitri Payet, Edouard Mendy and Steve Mandanda are some of the academy graduates from the Le Havre school of football who struck gold in this game.
Soon, it became clear that Tino had outgrown Le Havre.
It was his goals, which attracted Olympique Lyon, a club who propelled themselves into the arena of greatness by winning seven La Liga titles on the trot after the turn of the millennium.
Tino started his Lyon career with a BANG and his goals even attracted the attention of the legendary Karim Benzema.
In January, 2021, after Tino scored twice in the 5-0 thrashing of city rivals St Etienne, one of the historic giants of French football, Benzema took to Twitter and wrote:
“Lyonnais, tonight you can make a whole city proud and happy, we are all behind you! And Tino keep making your dreams come true.”
Benzema is a former Lyon star and it’s not every time that a player of his pedigree takes time to shower another player with praise.
Especially when that player is from little Zimbabwe whose only connection with Lyon was when the Warriors played a ’94 World Cup qualifier against Egypt there after FIFA ordered the showdown to be hosted at a neutral venue.
It’s a measure of the progress a footballer would have made in the game when one starts getting the attention of the likes of Benzema.
Even some of the most respected coaches in the world, like Frenchman Rudi Garcia, were beginning to speak highly of him.
“Tino Kadewere is important because he gets involved in games. He is good with his back to goal, his one touch game is good.
“He has good movement, he is selfless, he is a tall player, good with headers so he can help up front, he can also help at the back, because he comes and helps us to defend free-kicks.
“I am happy because Tino is a good guy.”
Now, that is rich when it’s coming from a man who has won the French Manager of the Year three times, won the Ligue 1 title and French Cup and took Marseille to the runners-up spot in the Europa League.
He was the man the Saudi Moneybags at Al Nassr chose to guide their project, long before even Cristiano Ronaldo had featured in their radar.
What about his first coach in France, Oswald Tachot, who welcomed him at Le Havre?
“He is a very co-ordinated boy who has a great first touch of the ball,” Tachot said. “I found his talent very comprehensive. He was able to create chances, and is a good finisher.
“When he arrived, he was not very strong physically, but he has greatly improved.
“He was always smiling, open and always in a good mood. He immediately integrated well by learning French and by bringing his wife and son to France.
“He was grateful to the club for signing him. He is a fine boy and he lacked power when he arrived. But he made sure to use the other attributes that he has. He is clever with both feet.”
But, it wasn’t only the football superstars and elite managers who were singing praises about Tino.
Even some of the most seasoned journalists were also joining the bandwagon.
And, in December 2020, after the Warriors forward and his Cameroonian counterpart, Karl Toko Ekambi, had played key roles in the 1-0 win over PSG, the media gurus were also hailing these African stars.
Tino scored the only goal of that match.
“Kadewere, who scored the only goal of the game, is the obvious hero,” wrote Adam White, in The Guardian newspaper of Britain.
“It was not all smooth sailing for Kadewere.
“The Zimbabwe international snatched a few chances and fired over just before he found the back of the net, but his inclusion in the starting XI for what he called ‘his first big match in Europe’ was more than justified.
“Kadewere played on the right side of a 4-3-3, where his pace and tireless running were instrumental in helping to shackle Neymar.”
IMAGINE IF WEGHORST WAS TINO?
But, it’s also a fact that Tino will be the first to admit that, in the past two years, things haven’t gone according to plan.
He is now a shadow of the player he was, when Covid-19 was hammering the world, and football was one of the sporting disciplines, which were cheering our battered spirits.
Right now, it’s more likely that, given a choice, a French club will go for the 40-year-old Tawanda “Finger” Nyamandwe, probably charmed by his good physical features, than Tino.
That is what happens when the goals dry up and, when you play as a forward, the analysis is brutal because, without the goals, you lose respect and your value goes down.
I don’t know what is going on with Tino, although I know the injuries haven’t helped his cause, but the way he has faded is not only alarming but frightening.
The expectation was that he would probably rediscover his scoring touch, in a different environment, but it’s fair to say his loan move to Mallorca was an absolute disaster with just one goal in 15 La Liga games.
That goal came on February 18, against Villarreal, and 19 matches, across all platforms, and just two goals, represents a failed mission.
Given he had scored just one goal in 15 games, during the 2021/202s season, it means Tino has scored just TWO league goals, in 30 games, in the last two seasons.
That’s on average, a goal, every season.
It’s unacceptable, at any level of the game, and he knows that this has been a terrible phase for his career, even though you will still see him smiling.
Tino deserves the criticism he is getting, and I have no problem with it, because this is how it should be in the real world.
What I don’t agree with, though, is that the same people, among us, who are criticising Tino for his lack of goals, somehow, find justification for Wout Weghorst’s historic sterility in front of goal.
You hear them, week in and week out, saying Weghorst has some qualities, which help Manchester United and his value is not only seen in his goals, or the lack of them.
It’s like they have tough rules for their homegrown stars and softer rules for others.
That Weghorst has scored just two league goals, in 37 league appearances for Burnley and Manchester United, over two seasons, doesn’t seem to concern them.
Instead, they will tell you that he scored twice, in the World Cup semi-finals, against eventual winners Argentina.
It doesn’t matter to them that these were his first World Cup goals, at the ripe age of 30.
Neither does it matter to them that his last EPL goal came on April 17, last year.
This is the man that Messi called a “fool” in front of the camera.
“I had some moments with Messi. He was surprised at these moments, and he didn’t like it. I wanted to show this respect after the match,” Weghorst said.
“But he wasn’t really open to that, he was still a little bit angry with me. But, I see it as a big plus that he knows my name now!”
We also know his name.
It belongs to a misfiring Dutchman who is probably the biggest attacking flop Manchester United have acquired in their history.
Imagine if this was Tino?
Interestingly, Weghorst is even wanted by Everton.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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