HARARE-AFTER sitting out four solid months due to a nasty knee injury, Warriors forward Tino Kadewere feels he has recuperated on time to help the country realise the dream to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Cameroon next year.
The 22-year old forward suffered significant ligament damage to his left knee in July apparently at a time he had hit top form while turning out for Swedish outfit Djurgardens.
Kadewere had gone on a scoring spree that catapulted him to the top of the Swedish charts with eight goals from 12 starts when injury struck.
Initially, he was ruled out for eight weeks but the lay-off turned out to be 20 weeks after he picked another knock last month which led him to miss three key qualifiers for the Warriors, including the crucial back to back duels against DRC.
The injury setback also delayed his debut for his new French club, Le Herve.
“It was tough for me and also considering that I got injured when I had hit top form. It really turned me down and I kept thinking about it every time but thankfully I managed to overcome it.
“The good thing is that the team (Zimbabwe) still continued to perform well even in my absence. I am very happy for the Warriors, these guys really put everything into these qualifiers.
“I am also glad to be back and I hope my presence will count in the remainder of the campaign. I feel I need to play my part to help my nation to cross the line. We are closer to qualification than before and the result in Liberia matters.
“This is a key match for us and there is need to be sober minded considering that Liberia are not easy opponents at their backyard. But this is a game that we need the most. So we have to go there with our heads high because we need a result. We are not going there just to fulfil a fixture,” said Kadewere.
The lanky forward was recalled by Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa to beef up the attack which had been weakened following his injury and that of South Africa-based compatriot Evans Rusike, who has also healed.
And for someone who was coming from a long lay-off stretching about four months, Kadewere admitted he had some butterflies in the stomach when he eventually made his debut for French side Le Herve in the 3-2 win over Sochaux at the weekend. He was introduced in the 82nd minute for Yacouba Coulibaly as Le Havre moved to 22 points from 14 games and sitting seventh on the log standings.
Kadewere joined the French Ligue 2 side in July on a four-year deal.
“The most difficult thing was that it was my first game for the club and, also coming from injury, I had some kind of pressure. There was also a little bit of nerves but by the time I got my first touch everything cleared.
“I had my confidence back and the fans liked it, judging by the messages I got from them, although I played a few minutes. Now I am looking forward to big things with my new club.
“I am enjoying the new environment. So far it has been good, the people in my team have welcomed me warmly; they have been nice, loving and caring.
“So far I speak a little bit (of French) but I am learning everyday. The good thing however, is that I have my family there with me and at least I have some people who I can talk to in my vernacular language and laugh with,” said Kadewere.
Zimbabwe are on the cusp of qualifying for the nations Cup show-piece after opening a three-point lead at the top of Group G which also includes DRC, Congo and Liberia. Unbeaten after four games, the Warriors now just need to go into the weekend round of fixtures, needing at least a point to seal their berth.
Most of the foreign-based players have been instructed to fly straight to Liberia where they hope to train for three days beginning on Thursday and acclimatising to the weather conditions in Monrovia.
As was largely expected, Dynamos goalkeeper Simba Chinani was also released yesterday.
Kadewere returned home on Sunday to see his family and is expected to join coach Sunday Chidzambwa and his crew tomorrow on the flight to Liberia.
Zimbabwe Provisional Squad
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs)
Defenders: Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs), Kevin Moyo (FC Platinum), Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Willard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu), Talent Chawapihwa (Baroka), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Knowledge Musona (Anderlecht), Rodwell Chinyengetere (FC Platinum)
Strikers: Evans Rusike (SuperSport United), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Tinotenda Kadewere (Le Havre AC)-Herald