Garananga makes Mechelen debut

He went on to help the team defend the slim lead until the end of the match as the club stretched their unbeaten run to five matches.

Warriors defender Munashe Garananga made his debut for KV Mechelen on Sunday, three days after joining the Belgium top flight league side.

The 23-year-old, who made the switch from Moldovan Super League FC Sheriff on Thursday to link up with compatriot Bill Antonio, came on as a second half substitute in his new team's 1-0 away win at AS Eupen.

The only goal of the match arrived on 64th minute, a minute after Garananga had been introduced into the match.

He went on to help the team defend the slim lead until the end of the match as the club stretched their unbeaten run to five matches.

Mechelen are currently on eighth position with 32 points, four behind the team that occupies the last championship round slot. There are six matches remaining before the end of the first phase of the Belgium First Division A league.

Teams that finish in the top six will play in the championship round to decide the title winner and teams that will play Uefa Champions League and Europa League football next season, while those from number seven to twelve play in the Uefa Conference League Play-offs.

Garananga who joined the club on a three-year deal, has played Uefa football before, featuring for Sheriff in the Europa and Conference Leagues.

Mechelen believe his experience will come in handy as they push for a place into European football.

“We are extra proud to be able to bring him in,” Mechelen director of football Tim Matthys said.

“With Munashe we are bringing in a talented defender who, at the age of 23, can already show a good track record. He has a lot of experience and has also played Conference and Europa League.”

“He is a boy who wants to invest in his sporting career. Lucky for us, because otherwise he would be a waste of money. The many offers from several larger clubs proved that. I look forward to how he will develop with us.”

Garananga's compatriot, Antonio, made his second successive start for Mechelen as he continues to cement his position in the side's starting XI.

The former Prince Edward High School and Dynamos winger lasted for 83 minutes before he was substituted.

It was his eighth appearance for the club this season, scoring two goals including in last week's 2-2 draw against giants Gent.

The two Zimbabwe internationals will be looking to be involved even more when seventh-placed Genk visit at the weekend.

The pair has a single cap each for the senior national team.

Garananga featured as a second half substitute in the Warriors' last match, a 2026 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria in Rwanda late last year while 21-year-old Antonio made his debut as an 18 year against South Africa in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in 2021.

The duo id expected to form part of the Warriors squad when they resume their World Cup qualification campaign in June with back-to-back clashes against Lesotho and South Africa.

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