ZIMBABWE international defender Teenage Hadebe is set to resume his battle against relegation as he returns to action for his Turkish Super League club, Yeni Malatyaspor, on Saturday after more than two months of inactivity due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Turkey suspended all football activities from March like the rest of the world to try and curb the spread of the pandemic and as the authorities gradually ease restrictions, games are scheduled to restart on Friday.
Already, Germany has restarted its league while major European leagues like England, Spain and Italy are also expected to commence in under two weeks time.
The spotlight will, however, be on Turkey this weekend where Warriors defender Hadebe will be the first Zimbabwean footballer in Europe to return to action since the imposition of the lockdown across the globe.
It also marks his return to action after nearly a month on the sidelines due to suspension as his side hosts Kasimpasa in a league match on Saturday.
Hadebe was given a red card against Denzilispor and consequently missed three matches before the lockdown.
Yeni Malatyaspor had a poor run prior to the lockdown, having last won in December — a surprise 2-0 victory away to giants Beskitas. Since then, they suffered 12 defeats and drew two matches in all competitions.
Those losses include 10 out of their last 11 league matches, with the other one having ended in a draw against Konyaspor.
Having collected just 25 points the same as the team which occupies the final relegation slot-Rizespor, and only two points above Akaragucu who are second from the bottom of the table, it’s indicative of a gloomy campaign for the Zimbabwean international.
With Kayserispor at the foot of the table on 22 points, the relegation matrix appears complex and Hadebe and his team will have to roll up their sleeves if they are to escape relegation and maintain premier status.
After hosting Kasimpasa, they make the trip to mid-table Goztepe before embarking on other tough journey to giants Fenerbache and then host Genclerbirligi in their first four matches.
Hadebe played a key role at the heart of the defence for the Warriors at the last African Cup of Nations finals held in Egypt in June last year.
Although the Warriors produced a lacklustre show — exiting the premier football tournament in the first round with only a point to show for their participation, at individual level, Hadebe had done enough to draw the attention of several scouts and Yeni Malatyaspor was one of the first to pounce.
With the English Premier League set to resume a week later, another Zimbabwean Marvelous Nakamba who turns out for Aston Villa is scheduled to kick the ball for the first time since the lockdown when his side also in similar circumstances, gets into action.