Eddie Chikamhi and Mukudzei Chingwere
WARRIORS midfielder Marvelous Nakamba is still keeping his feet on the ground despite his growing profile in the European Champions League which he underlined with yet another five-star show on an historic night for his Belgian side Club Brugge on Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old was part of the history-making band when Club Brugge bagged the biggest win by a Belgian club in Europe’s premier club competition.
Nakamba played 90 minutes as new records were rewritten in the 4-0 away win over top French side Monaco, who are under the guidance of French legend Thierry Henry.
This was Club Brugge’s first group win in a Champions League assignment in 13 years and the victory was significant in more ways than one.
Nakamba and his teammates also handed Monaco their heaviest defeat in the tournament, which has been described by sections of the French media as a disaster.
The Zimbabwean international was making only his third appearance in the Champions League, but he received a high rating according to statistics released after the match.
The UEFA website picked out the midfielder among the top rated players in the match with an 85 percent passing accuracy.
The website also noted that Nakamba has been consistent in the three games that he has played ever since he made his Champions League bow.
His performances should be good news for Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa as he is an integral part of the Warriors side that is on the verge of securing a place at the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Nakamba also appears to have fully recovered from an injury that needed specialist treatment in Spain and has been improving with each game ever since he made his Champions League debut with a second half appearance in the 1-3 defeat to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.
The former Bantu Rovers man who has also seen duty in the Netherlands went on to start the last two Champions League assignments against Monaco and has so far played a total of 214 minutes of European football.
According to the UEFA website, Nakamba has made 67 accurate passes from 77 attempts, which gives him a distinction mark of 88 percent overall at this stage of the tournament.
Nakamba, even had a chance to grab his maiden Champions League goal against Monaco late on in Tuesday night’s encounter but the home keeper made a good save.
Damage nonetheless was already inflicted courtesy of a brace from Hans Vanaken before Brazilian forward Wesley made it 3-0 at half time.
Club Brugge captain Ruud Vormer completed the rout with five minutes remaining.
French football magazine L’Equipe gave Nakamba a 7/10 mark along with the goal scorers Vormer and Wesley. This rating was only second to double scorer Vanakan and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath who both had an 8/10.
Rated by Goal.com in July as Africa’s next big thing in the game, Nakamba has remained calm in the wake of a towering image that follows his exceptional exploits for the Belgian powerhouses.
After earning stripes as one of the most competent upcoming midfielders, clubs competing in major European leagues like English giants Liverpool and West Ham United are all reported to have inquired about his availability.
But the 24-year-old remained in Belgium and has managed to prove his worthy standing toe-to-toe against some of the game’s highly rated stars such as Diego Costa, Alex Witsel, Koke, Antoine Griezmann.
Nakamba told The Herald from his Belgian base yesterday that he preferred to remain very calm and thanked God for the way things have turned up for him.
“It has been a fantastic experience and a dream come true . . . competing in the best club competition in the world and giving thanks to the Most High for everything and hopefully to continue working hard keep on learning, improving and getting better in every match.
“I think every game has been different considering against Atletico it was my first game in the Champions League and we know the quality of Griezmann and other star players they have in their squad and also against Monaco it was two totally different games.
“But in the Champions League I have been playing against the best with different qualities of players in the field,” Nakamba said.
Nakamba said he refused to freeze in every respect of the game when playing against some high profile stars and that determination has been driven him.
“The inspiration has been nothing is impossible and it has been a motivation playing in the Champions League and to continue working hard trying my best and God will do the rest.
“Now I just want to continue working hard and trying my best and praying for the best’’.
Despite their huge win, Club Brugge still face a tall order in their bid to qualify to the knock-out stage in a group that also has German outfit Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid who they trail by five points with two games to go.
“We are taking each game as it comes as we are now already in Brugge focusing on our next league match and after the international break we still have another league match before the Champions League game again, so we are just taking game by game and giving everything for the team and hoping for the best as well as positive results,” he said. Nakamba also took time to encourage his Warriors teammates that they all have the capacity to play in Europe if they work hard and remain disciplined.
Every player has the capacity it is only about opportunities and working hard with discipline, dedication and determination that nothing is impossible.
“With the Warriors it is totally another different type of game, we need to give everything to succeed and continue giving everything to achieve the team goal which is fighting for qualifying for AFCON,” said Nakamba.
The Brugge website yesterday celebrated the win, which was their first European success in 13 years and the biggest winning margin by a Belgian side in the Champions League.
“The win at Monaco was a historic one in many respects. For the players, for the points, for the consequences, and for Belgian football in general.
“Never has a Belgian team been able to win a Champions League game by a bigger than two goal margin. Club managed to double that record.
“The broad win at Monaco reminisces of the EL win at Copenhagen back in 2014-15, coincidentally also on 6 November. The score at half-time was also 0-3, and once again Ruud Vormer netted Club’s fourth. Striking!” Club Bruge said on their website.