A War­rior’s Spirit

Zim­bab­wean striker works hard to be­come one of Dalian Yi­fang’s mar­quee play­ers

ChinAfrica - - KEYWORDS - By Éric Vin­cent Fomo

striker Nyasha Mushekwi has earned his place in the hearts of Dalian Yi­fang Foot­ball Club sup­port­ers. Over the last three years, he has had a bril­liant in­ter­na­tional ca­reer. Even Sun Xishuang, the team’s owner, has praised the skills of the “Zim­bab­wean war­rior,” who he de­scribed as a real fighter hun­gry for suc­cess.

In the cur­rent sea­son, Dalian Yi­fang (founded in 2009 and for­merly known as Dalian Aerbin) was fi­nally el­e­vated to the China Su­per League (CSL). The club has been sig­nif­i­cantly re­in­forced with the ar­rival of a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional play­ers such as Ar­gen­tinean in­ter­na­tional Ni­co­las Gai­tan and Bel­gian in­ter­na­tional Yan­nick Fer­reira Car­rasco.

Along­side th­ese stars - who showed what they were ca­pa­ble of in some of Europe’s best clubs and even at the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia - Mushekwi had no choice but to limit him­self to a sup­port­ing role. Pow­er­less, he watched as his team got bogged down at the lower end of the rank­ings, af­ter a se­ries of de­feats, in­clud­ing a scathing 8:0 hu­mil­i­a­tion on March 3 against Shang­hai SIPG.

But things started to turn around with the dis­missal of head coach Ma Lin, re­placed by 58-year-old Bern­hard Schus­ter from Ger­many. The for­mer coach of Real Madrid en­gi­neered a re­turn to the fun­da­men­tal strat­egy that al­lowed the Blue Hawks - as the Dalian Yi­fang play­ers are nick­named to climb the rank­ings. Schus­ter’s high-pres­sure, com­pact game­play style has proven to be ef­fec­tive.

Dalian Yi­fang’s de­fense, which was known for be­ing its weak point, has been re­fo­cused around ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers such as Jonathan Fer­rari and Zhou Ting. The tac­ti­cal ap­proach to their game­play has made it pos­si­ble for play­ers to use both long passes and fast counter-at­tacks, en­abling Mushekwi to show the full ex­tent of his skills.

As of Oc­to­ber 6 this year, in 17 games played, the Zim­bab­wean for­ward scored 15 of his club’s 31 goals. He is far ahead of star player Yan­nick Car­rasco, who scored only

Mushekwi shows his skills against Guangzhou Ever­grande Taobao FC

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