BY HENRY MHARA
FOLLOWING a storming start to his Olympique Lyonnais career, Tino Kadewere has now set his sights on helping the Ligue 1 side qualify for next season’s Uefa Champions League, while he has also revealed ambitions of following on the footsteps of Real Madrid centre forward Karim Benzema.
Benzema used to play for Lyon and Kadewere considers him the best forward in the world.
The French giants were last season’s surprise package in the competition as they went all the way to the semifinals before losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich.
They are, however, not involved in this year’s campaign after they finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season.
But their performance in the league so far resembles that of a team determined to right the wrongs from the past season and return to the Champions League where they would rub shoulders with Europe’s best.
Central to the club’s rejuvenation is the scoring prowess of the front trio that includes Kadewere, his African counterpart Karl Toko Ekambi and ex-Manchester United forward Memphis Depay.
The three have scored 19 goals between them so far with all of them on five or more goals, more than any side in the top five European leagues in 2020/21 season.
With the Ligue 1 almost reaching the halfway stage, Lyon is well positioned for a Champions League spot as they are currently third on the log standings with 30 points, two behind log leaders Lille. Neymar’s Paris Saint Germain are second with 31 points.
“The title? To be honest, I want us to qualify for the Champions League. It would be a dream. If we continue like this, working very hard, we have our chances of finishing first,” Kadewere said.
The top two sides in the Ligue 1 qualify directly into the Uefa Champions League group stages while third place finishers will play the qualifiers.
“It would be difficult. But we never know,” he added.
The 24-year-old, who arrived at Lyon at the start of the year from Le Havre in Ligue 2, has defied expectations by commanding a first team jersey at the club, at the expense of France international Moussa Dembélé.
Kadewere has netted five goals for the club in the league so far including the famous strike in the 1-0 win over PSG last week.
The goal against the PSG superstars put the former Harare City striker firmly on the spotlight, and many believe that he is destined for greatness.
Speaking to L’Equipe, one of the biggest football magazine in the world, Kadewere said his career is on the right track, and wants to emulate former Lyon striker Benzema who now plays for Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Asked why he picked Lyon over a number of possible suitors who were jostling for his signature in the summer last season, he said: “I just felt that Lyon was a club that made its players grow. And I thought of Karim Benzema. He is one of my favourite players. I used to watch him a lot when I was younger.”
“I am on social media to see how he lives, trains. To be honest, that is one of the big reasons I signed for Lyon. My career is on the right track, but I don’t have to rest. I’m in a big club, one of the best in the world, but if I keep going, why not go even higher? You never know, one day, I might be like Benzema.”
While waiting for such a great career, Kadewere would be hoping to return to the score sheet when Lyon travel to Nice tomorrow night. The former Prince Edward School pupil played the full match in the 2-2 draw against Brest on Wednesday but could not find the target.