BY Kevin Mapasure
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has revealed that Marvelous Nakamba’s debut for the Premier League side has been delayed by fitness issues.
Nakamba signed for the Birmingham-based side from Club Brugge in Belgium, but has failed to make the match day squads for the two league matches that Villa have been involved in so far this campaign.
Villa kicked off the season with a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham before Saturday’s home 2-1 loss to Bournemouth.
Aston Villa fans and Zimbabwe football enthusiasts have questioned the continued absence of Nakamba, who arrived in a reported £10 million deal.
Smith moved to explain that with the midfielder having missed part of pre-season training due to an injury sustained at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, he has been lagging behind and has had to work on his fitness.
“He’s done extra work in training on Saturday, and he’s still a little bit off it,” said the coach.
“He played one game in the Africa Cup of Nations and got injured and hasn’t done an awful lot of training afterwards. So when he came to us, we’ve been working on his fitness.”
Villa, one of four sides in the English topflight to have lost both their opening matches, next face Everton in a home match.
It looks unlikely that Nakamba will get a run in this one considering the fitness issues.
Even if Nakamba gets to full fitness, he would have to work hard for a place, particularly in the starting 11 where they have been lining up the rated Jack Grealish, Scottish international John McGinn and Soares de Paulo, who scored a beautiful long range goal on Saturday.
Other new signings at the club including goalkeeper Tom Heaton, strikers Wesley and Trezeguet (real name Mahmoud Ibrahim Hassan), have all made their Premier League debuts for the club.
Egyptian Trezeguet lasted 87 minutes before he was replaced by Keinan Davis in the match against Bournemouth, while Wesley, who played alongside Nakamba at Club Brugge played the entire match.
An air of expectation had surrounded Nakamba’s arrival at the club, with Aston Villa fans, who are also fascinated by his first name, anxious to see him in action.
Nakamba played in the opening match of the Afcon finals against Egypt where he was watched by Smith and got injured in that match, which ruled him out of the subsequent clashes pitting the Warriors against Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Following that injury, Nakamba missed the start of pre-season training at Club Brugge and only returned to full training after joining Villa last month.
Meanwhile, Marshall Munetsi’s Ligue 1 debut has also been put on hold owing to an injury on the Warriors midfielder.
Munetsi, who joined Reims from Orlando Pirates in South Africa, has missed the two matches that Reims have been involved in so far.
Reims have had a good start to the campaign where they kicked off the campaign with a 2-0 win over Marseille before the weekend’s nil-all draw with Strasbourg.
Munetsi is listed as injured, but the nature of the injury has not been clarified.
He completed his move to Reims before the onset of the Afcon campaign, but also got injured during the course of the tournament.
Striker Tino Kadewere continues to make waves in Ligue 2 in the same country after his brace for Le Havre against Lens at the weekend took his tally to six goals from just four matches so far in this campaign.
Kadewere is leading his team’s charge in the race for promotion, and even though the league is still in its infancy, they are making a big statement.
Le Havre sit third on the league table with eight points, just two behind Clermont at the top and Lorient who both have 10 points each.