Fifty not out for Field Marshal

Capitalk Reporter |  10 months ago | sport

WARRIORS’ midfield powerhouse, Marshall Munetsi, is celebrating becoming only the second Zimbabwean footballer, to make 50 appearances, in French Ligue 1. The 25-year-old Stade Reims midfield enforcer, marked his milestone in the goalless draw against FC Lorient, at the weekend. ‘’Very proud to have had 50 appearances for Reims in Ligue 1,’’ he posted on his social media page.

‘‘I’m looking forward to the next 50.’’ If he plays another 23 matches, in the league, he will overtake Benjani Mwaruwari’s tally of 72 Ligue 1 appearances, for AJ Auxerre, between 2003 and 2006. The former Warriors captain scored 19 goals, and provided two assists, during his stay at Auxerre, where he clocked a shift of 4 272 minutes. He left, in January 2006, to join English side Portsmouth, in what was a club-record transfer for the south coast team, whose manager, Harry Redknapp, took some advice from Arsene Wenger.

Munetsi has also been on the radar of some English clubs and, given his strength and qualities, many have suggested he could be a perfect fit for the Premiership.

He was pursued by Championship side, Sheffield United, earlier this year but Stade Reims hung on to their man, gambling on getting better offers, from bigger and richer clubs, in the coming months. And, after a fine performance against Lionel Messi, when the Argentine superstar made his debut in Ligue 1, it is believed Munetsi’s value skyrocketed.

“Munetsi is a player I saw a fair bit of in South Africa, and he definitely put in the hard yards to move up the ranks,” Joe Crann, an expert in South African football, told The Star, a daily newspaper, published in the Sheffield area of England.

“He’s a big, versatile midfielder who is probably best deployed as a DM (defensive midfielder), but he’s also played CM (central midfielder) and as a central defender over the course of his career. “For me, he’s best used in midfield because he’s a good ball player, is powerful and his passing ability and work ethic make him suited to that position.

“Orlando Pirates paid FC Cape Town the equivalent of about £100 000 for him a few years ago, and are thought to have made a fair bit of profit on him when he left for Reims.” It was the second time, in which Munetsi has used a showdown against the Moneybags of Paris Saint Germain, to show his true qualities.

In September 2019, the Zimbabwean produced a midfield masterclass, which blunted PSG’s US$534m attacking machine, led by Brazilian superstar Neymar. “That was a US$30m-player performance,” an agent said. “His imposing frame, which is a reminder of Yaya Toure at his peak, is just what the top coaches want in their teams.

‘‘His movement with the ball is impressive and he plays without fear, it was very difficult, at times, to believe he was making his first start and playing against PSG.’’ Munetsi played 17 Ligue 1 games, in his first season, during the 2019/2020 season, improved that tally to 27 games, last season and he has already featured in all six games, this season. He clocked 830 minutes, in his first season, in the league, improved that to 1926 minutes, in the following season and he has already clocked 455 minutes, this season. His first season saw him provide two assists.

And, there was an assist, and a goal, in his second season while he has already been on target, in the first six league matches, of the new season. In total, the Zimbabwean has clocked 3211 minutes, in the league, in France.

Of course, he has also played in three Copa de Ligue matches, one Coupe de France match and two Europa League qualifiers. This brings his total number of matches, for the French club, to 57 games.

His first league match was against Lille on September 1, 2019, which Stade Reims won 2-0. His fan base has exploded, especially after he started showing his softer side, to the hardman he usually portrays on the pitch, by footing the school fees of scores of kids, from poor families in his home suburb of Mabuku. 

“It’s a challenge for kids to get a better education when they can’t go to school because of lack of finances. “It’s always good to see the kids happy and see the people in my own community happy as they saw me grow to be the person I am today with help from most of them.” It’s very likely they will be supporting him all the way, as he sets on his next target, after clocking 50 league matches. They won’t be the only ones as many turned to social media yesterday, to wish the Zimbabwean midfielder, all the best in his career, and here are some of their comments:

Licoln Mgcine—Since you left us at Orlando Pirates FC, we lost a lot of dignity Milton Dangaiso—Keep going, I know next 50 you will not finish them because you will have moved higher. Well done. Watson Nhubu—Sky is the limit Marshy, with God, you will achieve your dream.

One of the most consistent Warrior I know . . . make Mabvuku proud. Cordington Zimunya—Keep going man, you are a star. Wiseman Hagile—Sky is the limit, keep up the great work. Robson Kachepa—Well done homeboy. I need your jersey. Honest Ncube—Well done boy keep up the good work. Joseph Jahman Zengeya—Congrats Marshall, I am very proud of you. Emkey Palmer—Congratulations, keep on making us proud Marshall . . .We still love you here at Buccaneers