Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
NYASHA MUSHEKWI’S goals in the Chinese Super League have taken him into elite company of multi-millionaire footballers, including Brazilian ace Oscar, who last year was among the 20 highest paid footballers in the world with rich pickings of about $25 million for the year.
The Zimbabwe international has been scoring freely for his Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang and a brace on Saturday, which powered his team to a 2-1 win over Henan Jianye, took his season’s tally to nine league goals this season.
That is the same number of goals that Oscar, the former Chelsea star who is now playing for Shanghai SIPG, has also scored all season in a Golden Boot race that is being led by Chinese international Wu Nei with 18 goals.
But, what has been remarkable about Mushekwi’s goals, is that they have come only in the 11 league matches he has played for his club while the majority of the players have played about double the number of matches he has featured in.
The Zimbabwean, who took his tally to five goals in his last two matches, was initially ignored by former Dalian Yifang coach Ma Lin and spent the first two months of the season on the sidelines with the gaffer preferring other players.
However, the coach’s dismissal, and the arrival of former Real Madrid boss Bernd Shuster, opened a window for Mushekwi who has now become his team’s main supply for goals and has been destroying defences at will.
To find himself in the company of such global stars, like Oscar, who was last year named the 17th best paid footballer in the world with a yearly income of $24.8 million, has been a remarkable story for the Zimbabwean.
Other stars who were named in that multi-millionaire Top 20 Club were Manuel Neuer, Paul Pogba, Edisnson Cavani, Thomas Muller, Alexis Sanchez, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Andreas Iniesta, Antoine Griezmann, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Gerard Pique, Gareth Bale, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The Chinese Super League has been growing in leaps and bounds and with average attendance figures of 23 766 it was the fifth highest of any league in the world behind the German Bundesliga, the English Premiership, the Spanish La Liga and the Liga MX of Mexico.
A breakdown of Mushekwi’s statistics, in a game that has gone very scientific, paints a beautiful picture of how he has been impressive this season once he was given the chance to lead the attack in a team that also features Belgian World Cup star Yannick Carrasco and Argentina’s Nicolas Gaitan.
The Zimbabwean has played 941 minutes in the Chinese Super League for his nine goals in 11 matches and has a pass percentage success rate of 64.1 percent, has been winning 57 percent of his aerial duels, has been man-of-the-match four times and an average rating per game of 7.72 points.
Mushekwi is rated as being very strong in aerial duels and headed attempts while his finishing is rated as strong and, crucially, he has also improved his defensive contribution to the team.
However, he is rated as being weak, in terms of holding on to possession, and his discipline has also been questioned with four yellow cards this season.
His ratings in the games he has played have been impressive.
In his first match against Shanghai Shenhua he didn’t score, even though he played the entire match, and had a strong rating of 7.63 out of 10 while, in his season game, in the 3-0 win over Guangzhou Evergrande, he scored one goal and played the full 90 minutes for a rating of 9.2 out of 10.
He didn’t score in his third game, against Jiangsu Suning FC, which his team lost 0-1 and had a rating of 7.19 out of 10 in 90 minutes while his fourth game came against Guizhou Hengfeng, which they won 2-1, with the Zimbabwean getting a rating of 8.46 out of 10 in his 90 minutes.
The next game was a goalless draw against Hebei CFF, where he also played 90 minutes, while he also didn’t score in the 1-3 defeat to Beijing Renhe with a rating of 6.46 out of 10.
He was on target in the 2-3 home defeat to Tianjin Teda, in a game he played for 90 minutes, and got a rating of 8.23 out of 10 while he played only 45 minutes in the 0-3 loss to Changchun Yatai with a rating of 6.16 out of 10.
Mushekwi was unstoppable in the 3-0 rout of Guangzhou R & F as he scored all his team’s three goals and received a perfect 10 out of 10 rating after playing for 85 minutes.
Then, on Saturday, he scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Henan Jianye in which he received a rating of 8.09 out of 10, in 90 minutes of action, in a starring role for his club.
The Zimbabwean international has been setting the bar a little higher, in elite company, in the Chinese Super League in which he has shown he belongs to the group and is certainly not excess to baggage.
The veteran forward, who has also played in South Africa and Sweden, has been recalled into the Warriors side for the 2019 AFCON qualifier against Congo-Brazzaville next month.
Coach Sunday Chidzambwa felt that Mushekwi’s strength could come handy against the tougher and stronger opponents whom the Warriors next meet.