Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
THIS was probably his best match this season.
Effective forward forays, one of which produced a stunner that sealed Bournemouth’s 2-0 victory over Bristol City at Ashton Gate and decisive defensive displays underlined his growing status for the English Championship football leaders.
And in a way, Warriors utility man Jordan Zemura banished the sad memories of back-to-back defeats at the hands of Ghana and Zimbabwe’s subsequent elimination from the 2022 World Cup last week.
The 21-year-old was indeed close to shedding tears after the 0-1 defeat against the Black Stars at the National Sports Stadium last Tuesday that sealed the Warriors’ World Cup fate.
That the Warriors had been handed a 1-3 defeat by the same opponents three days earlier at the Cape Coast Stadium pained the former Charlton defender the most.
“It is very painful to lose in back-to-back ties. It’s part of the game but, I hate losing to the same opponent in a matter of days,” Zemura said.
“This is the worse feeling for a footballer. We really wanted to qualify for the World Cup or at least sustain our campaign for the sake of our dignity but that’s part of the game. Sometimes things go your way and at times it’s like this,” said Zemura after last Tuesday’s defeat by Ghana.
The result was especially disappointing for Zemura, who is yet to win a match in the Warriors colours in four appearances.
And with his head down, Zemura headed back to his base in England the day after.
But three days later, the Cherries left-back was back to his best, helping Scott Parker’s side extend their unbeaten start to the season by beating Bristol City 2-0 in the English Championship on Saturday.
So good was the Zimbabwean in this match, he received the highest rating of 90 per cent after playing a blinder in Bournemouth’s successful bid to restore a three-point advantage at the summit.
In a match both teams showed outstanding solidarity with Cherries’ star David Brooks who was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer in the run-up to the game, Zemura was the key cog in his team’s dominant display.
After chants and support from around the ground in the seventh minute to get behind Brooks, the Cherries hit the front in buccaneering style.
Jack Stacey centred where a leaping Jamal Lowe reached the ball and turned it home with a stretching leg, the players uniting to display a Brooks shirt in their celebration.
And Lowe found the opener for Bournemouth in the 21st minute, Zemura was at hand to put the icing on the cake right at the stroke of half-time.
Deployed at his usual left-back position in Parker’s 4-1-4-1 structure, Zemura embarked on a powerful off-the-ball run down the flank, creating an opening for Scotland gem Ryan Christie who sent a diagonal drive pass to the Zimbabwean.
The control was exquisite and the four touches and a single leg-over that tricked his marker created just enough space for him to launch a howitzer that found the roof of the net.
In fact, the left-back fastened on to Christie’s sublime crossfield pass, ghosted past his marker and unleashed an unstoppable drive past Bristol City goalkeeper Dan Bentley and into the roof of the net.
This was Zemura’s third goal in senior football after he netted twice against Barnsley last month.
Yet, the Zimbabwean, who only got a chance to start the opener against West Bromwich Albion because Stacey was injured, had revealed his target for the season was to score thrice.
But he has already achieved that target with the season exactly in its first quarter.
“I feel extremely happy to be part of this amazing team.
“The mentality within this squad is on top of the world.
“I am happy to have already scored three goals in 12 games, which is what I had set out for myself for the whole season.
“I am now focusing on doing even better because at the end of the day it is about helping my team achieve the targets.
“The season is still very young and we can only continue to do well if we continue with this mentality.
“We have an amazing group of players and you ought to work hard to complement them well.”
Saturday’s away clean sheet was Bournemouth’s fifth consecutive and Parker reserved special mention to his defence which Zemura is one of the key figures in his interview with BBC Radio Solent.
“It’s massive. The work ethic and defensive structure is the nucleus of our team. As a team, every player understands their out-of-possession roles and they know what to do when we turn defence into attack,” Parker said.
While Zemura, a key man to the Warriors’ impending rebuilding exercise, was making the headlines in England, Khama Billiat was giving his confidence a huge boost when he scored in Kaizer Chiefs’ 4-0 win over Chippa United in the South African Dstv Premiership match on the same day.
Billiat, who has struggled for form at both club and country, is fighting to rediscover himself amid criticism over the way he has carried himself since joining the Amakhosi two years ago.
And on Saturday, he somewhat afforded a peaceful sleep after registering his name on the scoresheet ending a lengthy goal drought.
He had last found the back of the net against Baroka back in August.
But what made him even happier in Saturday’s victory was the fact that he assisted both of Keagan Dolly’s goals.
Lazarus Kambole scored the other goal for Kaizer Chiefs in the game.
In France, Tino Kadewere came in as a second-half substitute for Lyon in their 2-0 win over Monaco on Saturday.
The Zimbabwean striker replaced former Liverpool star Xherdan Shaqiri in the 66th minute as he made his first start for Lyon in the French Ligue 1 this season after recovering fully from a recurring leg injury.
Kadewere was introduced by coach Peter Bosz with the two teams still goalless and Lyon went on to win 2-0 through a 75th minute spot-kick by Karl Toko Ekambi and a late strike Jason Denayer.
Before Saturday’s match, Kadewere had only featured a combined 24 minutes in two games since the season began in August.
Ahead of Saturday’s match against Monaco, Kadewere told Lyon’s official website that he was ‘’ready to help the team”.
‘’I took advantage of the international break to recover. I stayed in Lyon to prepare for the next match. I’m very happy, I had a pretty challenging season last year. Especially after my operation. I am motivated, I feel better, I am ready to help the team.’’
Marshal Munetsi’s Reims were held to a 1-1 draw by Brest yesterday and they are now placed 15th with 11 points from 10 matches in the French Ligue 1.
In England, Marvelous Nakamba’s Aston Villa surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 2-3 to Wolves at home in the English Premiership at Villa Park on Saturday.
Nakamba came on for Douglas Luiz in the 67th minute but Aston Villa blew a two-goal lead within a frantic 15 minutes at Villa Park as Ruben Neves’s deflected free-kick off Matt Targett won it for Wolves in stoppage-time.
Villa thought they were home and hosed when John McGinn — via a Neves deflection this time — whacked home what looked like a match-killing second to add to Danny Ings’ header not long after the restart.
However, Wolves began their fight-back just 12 minutes after McGinn’s strike when Romain Saiss converted Daniel Podence’s low cross at the far post.
Bruno Lage’s men continued to press as Villa looked tired and frustrated before the comeback kicked into another gear.
It was Leander Dendoncker’s ball in that was eventually converted when Conor Coady got the final touch as Axel Tuanzebe — drafted in for Kortney Hause from the start here — couldn’t clear as the ball scrambled in.
In the fifth minute of added time, Neves went for it with a free-kick from 25 yards as his effort cannoned off Targett which upended Emi Martinez in the Villa goal before the Wolves end went wild.