Bonne finds his Vardy touch Macauley Bonne

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
MACAULEY BONNE scored for the third straight game, his fourth goal in the last five games in the English Championship on Wednesday night, as he continued a red-hot scoring streak that saw him being tipped to be the next Jamie Vardy last season. With his countryman, Tino Kadewere, scoring his 11th goal in 11 games for his French Ligue 2 side Le Havre last weekend, it’s fair to say the two are currently the deadliest 23-year-olds, among all African strikers, in European football’s Big Five Leagues and their second-tier branches.

The Big Five Leagues in European football are the English Premiership, the Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and the French Ligue 1 and their second-tier branches are the Championship, the Segunda Division, Bundesliga 2, Serie B and Ligue 2.

Both Bonne and Kadewere were drafted into the Warriors squad for the 2021 opening qualifiers against Botswana, at Barbourfields, and the away in Zambia next month. While Kadewere was part of the Warriors at the last AFCON finals in Egypt, Bonne did not make the squad because he could not secure a Zimbabwean passport in time to play at the showcase.

He is confident he will have received a Zimbabwean passport by the time the Warriors go into camp to prepare for the two matches against Botswana’s Zebras and Chipolopolo of Zambia.

Veteran coach Sunday Chidzambwa, who took charge of the Warriors in Egypt, said he felt his team badly missed a gunslinger like Bonne as they struggled for goals at the tournament.

A single goal in three goals, in the 1-1 draw against Uganda, was all the Warriors could get at the AFCON finals where they finished bottom of their group.

Chidzambwa quit just after the tournament and was replaced by Joey Antipas, who took over in an interim capacity, with ZIFA expected to name a substantive coach in January next year.

Antipas, just like Chidzambwa before him, has continued to pursue Bonne with the coach saying the striker can provide the ruthlessness, upfront, which the Warriors badly need.

And, in the last five games, Bonne has been displaying the full range of the predatory instincts which drew the attention of many English Premiership suitors, including Leicester City, while he was still playing in the non-leagues last season.

A number of analysts believe the Zimbabwean striker, just like Vardy before him, could propel himself from being a non-league footballer to a Premiership star.

Reports have indicated Leicester City have an agreement with Charlton Athletic that should Bonne score more than 20 goals this season, the Foxes will then have first option to get him next season.

While Bonne initially struggled to adjust to life in the Championship, he appears to have found his confidence and the goals have been flowing with three in the last three matches and four in his last five games.

His fourth league goal in the past three weeks came on Wednesday night, albeit in a losing cause, as Charlton slumped to a heartbreaking 1-2 defeat at Bristol Rovers. The hosts came from behind to claim victory with their winning goal coming in the eighth minute of time added on at Ashton Gate

‘‘Loved scoring another goal, but devastated to concede a goal in the dying minutes,’’ Bonne tweeted.

‘‘Thank you for your support — we will give everything again on Saturday. We also wish Jonnie Williams a speedy recovery.’’

And, it appears, the Charlton Athletic fans are beginning to fall in love with the Zimbabwean marksman. ‘‘No one can stop you mate,’’ Tyler Towlinson responded on Twitter. ‘’Absolutely unreal display from you, keep this going. Absolute warrior.’’

Charlton manager Lee Bowyer said his players gave it their all despite conceding the last-gasp goal that condemned them to defeat.

“I thought we should have won the game. It’s hard for the lads and again, I can’t fault them. They give everything,’’ Bowyer told his club’s official website.

“I thought we were the better side, especially for 70 to 75 minutes. They changed their shape and matched us up and went to the diamond and even then, I thought we were still better than them.

“But I said to the lads; ‘We have to learn from this’. We have to be more ruthless. The amount of chances that we had in the first half in so many good areas and we just didn’t punish them.

‘’I thought we held our own today and we were better than them.’’

Bonne’s scoring spree started on September 28 when he scored the winner in the 1-0 victory over Leeds after he had been ushered into the starting team following injuries to key forwards Lyle Taylor and Tomer Hemed.

He didn’t score in his second match, against Swansea, despite playing the full 90 minutes but was on target in his next match in the 2-2 draw against Fulham where he also played the full match.

Bonne was again scored in the next match, a 3-0 home win over Derby last week, before finding the target again in the 1-2 loss at Bristol City.

He revealed his slow start to life in the Championship was because of the frustrations he endured, when he missed the chance to represent his country at the AFCON finals and how he struggled to adjust after the death of his former manager Justin Edinburgh. Edinburgh was Bonne’s manager at Leyton Orient and died at the age of 49 in June, shortly before Bonne moved to Charlton Athletic.

“At one point my head wasn’t in the right place,” Bonne told talkSPORT. “One second you hear he’s fallen ill then the next he’s passed away.

“I remember I was sitting in Mexico on my holiday thinking about how great my season had been.  We’d just got promoted, I knew I had a lot of clubs after me and I was in a good place.

“Something like that then comes along. I didn’t process it for a long time.

When you realise someone of his stature has gone it doesn’t seem real.

“He made me love football again . . . made me the player I am today.’’

He also spoke about his struggles to get a Zimbabwean passport.

“I’ve been trying to get it (the passport) sorted for years and years now and the process seems to be getting longer and longer,” Bonne told talkSport.

“It will happen one day but I’m gutted I didn’t get to go to the Africa Cup of Nations but I’m still young and have plenty of years ahead of me to go and play for them.

“I’m just focused on the here and now and that’s the best thing for me.”

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