FI­NAL THIRD

Peter­bor­ough’s Gabriel Zakuani on be­ing run over on the pitch!

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

OVER the past three weeks Gabriel Zakuani has con­tem­plated boy­cotting a match, won a medal and been run over by a med­i­cal buggy!

But now he’s back in Blighty the Peter­bor­ough de­fender is de­lighted to be re­turn­ing to one of the most ex­cit­ing League One pro­mo­tion races in re­cent mem­ory.

The 28-year-old helped his na­tive Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo win the third/fourth place play-off in the Africa Cup of Na­tions ear­lier this month – their best re­sult since 1998. How­ever, Zakuani

(right) had been in­volved in dis­cus­sions with team-mates about not play­ing in that match due to safety con­cerns af­ter spec­ta­tors ri­oted dur­ing hosts Equa­to­rial Guinea’s semi­fi­nal de­feat to Ghana.

Such dan­ger did not ma­te­ri­alise – even with Guinea beaten again – and the only time Zakuani was hurt oc­curred when a med­i­cal truck, en­ter­ing the pitch to aid him dur­ing a group game with ri­vals Congo, hit him as he sat on a stretcher.

“I was down in­jured. I saw him com­ing at some speed out of the cor­ner of my eye. I couldn’t be­lieve it when he ac­tu­ally hit me,” re­calls Zakuani.

“I just said to him ‘are you se­ri­ous?’. The game was still 0-0 and I did give him an evil stare, but once I got back to the ho­tel af­ter­wards I did have a lit­tle laugh to my­self about it. I can see the funny side.”

So im­por­tant is Zakuani to Dar­ren Fer­gu­son’s Peter­bor­ough, he was named on the bench for the home de­feat to Gilling­ham on the same day he jet­ted home from Africa.

And, while be­ing com­pletely bowled over by his Africa Cup of Na­tions ex­pe­ri­ence, he ad­mits it would be prefer­able not to play the tour­na­ment mid-sea­son.

“It was an im­por­tant stage of the sea­son, so it doesn’t help be­ing away,” he said. “But it’s one of those things. I can’t turn down play­ing for my coun­try, it’s just a shame it can’t be at the end of the sea­son.

“I got back on a Tues­day and was on the bench that night. I was ex­hausted.

“But the gaffer is good to me, he gives me time off here and there if I need it.

“But I feel good, I had a good tour­na­ment. I feel very con­fi­dent and the aim now is to help Posh go up.”

OUCH! Gabriel Zakuani is hit by the med­i­cal buggy and, inset, his tweet af­ter­wards

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.