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Can Marshall spoil the Partey?


By Kevin Mapasure

THE Fifa World Cup Africa Group G contest between Ghana and Zimbabwe is likely to throw up some interesting sub plots, particularly in the midfield, which is arguably the Warriors’ strongest department.

Zimbabwe boasts two classy midfielders in Marshall Munetsi of Stade Reims in France and Marvelous Nakamba of Aston Villa in England.

It’s not clear how Norman Mapeza, in his first game after his return to the Warriors dug out, will line up his team against a strong Black Stars, which is spoilt for talent in all parts of the field.

Mapeza may choose to play captain Knowledge Musona in front of Munetsi and Nakamba, where they are likely to come up against the trio of Arsenal’s Thomas Partey, Baba Idrissu of Real Mallorca and Ajax’s 19-year-old hot shot Mohammed Kudus.

It is likely to be an exciting combat in the centre of the park with Zimbabwe seeking to diffuse Kudus’ creative spark while thwarting Partey’s box-to-box power runs.

Munetsi is renowned for his man-marking abilities, but he also loves to forge into the opposition half with the ball at feet.

It will be interesting how Mapeza will set up at the back, where the defenders will certainly face a tough shift against the trio of Jordan Ayew, expected to play at right wing, Benjamin Tete of Yeni Malatyaspor as centre striker as well as Kamaldeen Suleymana of Rennes.

Suleyman has had a good start to his career in France’s League 1, where he is making his mark.

Last week, he provided an assist as Rennes upstaged star-studded PSG 2-0 in a league match.

He moved to Rennes after a spell at Danish side Nordsjaelland, where he scored 10 goals last season to attract French interest.

Suleyman has played nine matches for his club so far and scored three goals in the process.

Munetsi knows all about him even though they have not yet come up against each other.

But Warriors rightback Tendayi Darikwa will have his hands full with the 21-year-old, while Jordan Zemura, likely to be deployed at leftback, will have to contend with Ayew, desperate to make a mark having last scored for Ghana in March against minnows São Tomé and Príncipe.

Another area of interest for Zimbabwe will be at centreback, where Teenage Hadebe is a sure starter, although his partner is still subject of speculation.

The options are Alec Mudimu, who had a decent game against South Africa, but is error-prone and then there is Brendan Galloway, who plays leftback at club level, but could be reinvented to partner Hadebe.

Ghanaian sports journalist Haruna Mubarak expects a tough contest, with the Black Stars desperate to take three points on Saturday as they know winning in Harare on Tuesday will be difficult.

“Ghanaians really want to win the game, especially after they lost to South Africa. We know that this is a very difficult game and if we don’t pick up three points, it will be very difficult to travel to Zimbabwe and take all three points,” he said.

“The expectation is that we win irrespective of the style of play. Coach Milovan (Rajevac) is known for a very solid defensive team, a team that can break very well, is explosive in transition and a team that can score goals.

“So the concentration is not really on the style of play, it’s on how well the team can play in terms of having an identity and a team that can score goals.”

Both teams will be desperate for three points after they lost their last matches, with Zimbabwe falling to Ethiopia, while Ghana lost to South Africa.

In that regard, they are likely to go for each other’s throats.

  • Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinmapasure

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