Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
NYASHA MUSHEKWI can hardly wait to rub shoulders with some of the world’s biggest football superstars, including Brazilians Hulk and Ramires, Grazianno Pelle of Italy and a host of African legends — Christian Bassogog, John Obi Mikel and Pappis Cisse — when he makes his plunge into the mega-rich Chinese Super League.
Mushekwi is set to become the first Zimbabwean to play in the Chinese Super League, after its re-branding which saw a number of its heavyweight clubs flex their muscles on a buying spree which brought some of the best footballers from around the world to that country.
After featuring for Dalian Yifang in the second-tier for the past two seasons, this is Mushekwi’s breakthrough when the season gets underway next month and he is currently busy with the pre-season. The 30-year-old has been the driving force for the Blue Hawks, scoring 35 league goals since he arrived at the start of the 2016 season.
“We are in the Super League now, of course, the competition is going to be tougher, but this what some of us look for in our careers, looking for bigger challenges and I’m grateful to God for the opportunity,’’ said Mushekwi.
“So we working hard for this. Our league runs the same like the one back home. We are in pre-season now, everything has been a blessing from day one. Since I came here it’s been an amazing journey. God just took over and I’m just sitting back watching Him do His thing. I’m more than grateful.’’
For the former CAPS United striker it is not about making history.
“I did hear about (Gilbert) Mushangazhike playing here, but I don’t know how far he went with his team back then. I just keep hearing about being the first Zimbabwean to play in the (Chinese) Super League which is a nice thing, but the stamp you’ll leave is what’s more important for me than just being remembered as the first Zimbabwean to play in the Super League.
“So I’m praying for a season that l will remember for the rest of my life,” said Mushekwi.
Mushangazhike turned out for Jiangsu Sainty at the turn of the millennium when it was still in the Chinese First Division. The club has since re-branded to Jiangsu Suning, home to Brazilian duo of Ramires and Alex Teixeira as well as Cameroon skipper Benjamin Moukandjo.
‘’I know people say a lot about Chinese football like it’s some small league, but I wouldn’t say that. If you see even the so-called big players being signed here they don’t just come and take over. Last season Ramires’ team was fighting relegation. So it’s not as easy as people think,” said Mushekwi.
Argentine captain and former Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano recently joined Hebei China Fortune.
“This year will be big for me, this being the only chance I’m ever going to have to challenge myself with the big names who actually played in these big leagues.
‘’It’s going to be interesting, but a challenge I’m looking forward to . . . of course, there are challenges along the way, but He (God) says you may stumble, but He will never leave you to fall. I can’t wait.”
He also spoke about the Warriors.
“I just heard I was banned (to play for Zimbabwe) which is fine hey, everything the devil intends to destroy in me God always turns it for my good, so it’s okay. I see the boys have been doing well and I’m happy for them. I still do follow a lot of the football back home,” he said.
He has adjusted to life in China.
“My city isn’t a big city so there’s isn’t so many things for foreigners to do, but it’s a very beautiful place. Most of the time I’m just by my place resting as much as I can, I spend most times alone, but it’s all good,’’ he said.
“The food was a hustle during my first season here, but last season I managed to get my sister bringing me some stuff from home that I cooked myself so I wasn’t so stressed cause I had options.
“This season I’ll probably have more family members coming down here so that I can surround myself with them. They can come to support me playing in the Super League and get to witness the Chinese culture.
‘’They love me here and they gave me a trophy last season as the most loved or liked player in my league. It was so amazing to be recognised. Their culture is interesting which is something I’ve been trying to learn. It’s not easy though. I’d have loved to learn their language, l have tried a number of times to learn their language, but I have failed, I’ll keep trying.”
Article Source: The Herald