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Can Tinotenda Kadewere’s return complete Zimbabwe’s jigsaw?

France-based attacker Tinotenda Kadewere’s return to full fitness after four months out with a knee complaint should prove a great lift for Zimbabwe as they close in on a ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon next year.

The Warriors visit Liberia on Sunday needing victory to seal a second consecutive AFCON qualification.

A draw could even see them through if Congo-Brazzaville lose to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the other Group G encounter.

True enough, Kadewere cannot realistically be expected to instantly hit top form, having managed just eight minutes of competitive football since recovering from his latest injury setback a couple of weeks ago.

However, the 22-year-old’s mere presence in Monrovia, fit and ready to bond with the rest of the squad, is certainly one giant step towards the big dream of building a fluid forward line for Zimbabwe, who have long yearned for a centre-forward in Kadewere’s mould.

“I really like Kadewere’s style, he is a different kind of striker, and if he can regain the form he showed at the COSAFA tournament, then Zimbabwe can have one of the most dangerous strike forces on the continent,” Black Rhinos legend Maronga Nyangela told KweséESPN.

“As a central striker, Kadewere has everything, the instinct, the skill, everything,” Nyangela continued. “You can imagine the kind of effect his combination with [Khama] Billiat and [Knowledge] Musona will have.”

Not exactly a typical fox in the box, Kadewere is blessed with the technique, the energy and the intelligence to roam the pitch and link-up play without ever neglecting his primary responsibilities of turning up in the right positions in the box, and at the right moments.

It is unlikely that Zimbabwe will profit from these qualities in Monrovia, given that Kadewere is still battling to regain his sharpness.

The former Harare City man was in Kalisto Pasuwa’s squad for the 2017 AFCON finals, but he returned home without ever kicking a ball, having struggled to make an impression in the pre-tournament friendlies.

The January 2017 finals may actually have come a little too early for Kadewere, who had just spend his first full season in Sweden trying to get to grips with the European environment, having joined Djurgaderns in August of 2015.

He then returned to his base in Sweden hoping to pick up the pieces only to have his progress derailed by a hamstring injury sustained in mid-year, which laid him low for a good three months.

Having managed just five goals in 12 starts in his first two full seasons in the Swedish top flight, Kadewere started 2018 inspired to resuscitate his career, and he did exactly that, scoring eight goals in 12 matches to earn a move to Le Havre even as he nursed ruptured knee ligaments.

Now as he emerges from his injury woes to resume his rise to the top, Zimbabwe can only marvel at the timing, with a good seven months before the 2018 AFCON finals.

There is plenty of time for Kadewere to regain top form and stake his claim for a starting birth in Chidzambwa’s team.

It will not be easy, with Nyasha Mushekwi in the form of his life in the Chinese top flight, while diaspora talent Macauley Bonne is also showing great promise with National League side Leyton Orient.

However, Kadewere, when in peak form, provides that extra edge which has the potential to make the Warriors forward line a lot more potent.

Often, some promising attacks can come to naught due a heavy first touch, a clumsy attempt at dribbling, an over-hit pass, or even a totally misdirected one.

Warriors attackers Musona, Billiat, Chawapiwa, and even Terrence Dzvukamanja, are all technically gifted enough to avoid such blunders for the most part, and the presence of Kadewere up-top should mean more fluidity in the final third.

However, the immediate challenge for Kadewere is to prove that he has the quality to quickly regain form and establish himself as a regular at Le Havre. Success with Zimbabwe should follow.

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Despite big-name recalls, Partey remains Ghana’s key man

The build-up to Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia has been less than ideal for coach Kwesi Appiah.

Kwadwo Asamoah, one of the Black Stars’ most impressive players in Europe this season, has withdrawn following a knee injury.

However, the circumstances of his absence prompted assistant coach Maxwell Konadu to deny suggestions that the Internazionale man had pulled out due to a rift with the Ayew brothers, thereby giving oxygen to the rumours.

Appiah will be hoping the focus shifts back to football as quickly as possible, and in Thomas Partey, he has just the man to unite the side and secure Ghana reach their eighth consecutive AFCON finals.

While the returning Ayew brothers and captain Asamoah Gyan – who has made the squad despite his lack of minutes in the Super Lig – are attracting the headlines, Partey is the most likely to be the match-winner.

He’s certainly in fine form, having scored one and contributed another assist as Atletico Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 3-2 in La Liga at the weekend.

That performance came on the back of a fine showing against Borussia Dortmund, in which he set up another goal in a 2-0 home victory.

For Ghana, he has fast become indispensable, having scored seven goals in his last seven matches for the Black Stars. This season, his two league goals is a greater return than the four strikers Ghana are taking to Ethiopia combined.

Despite nominally being a defensive midfielder, Partey is arguably the Stars’ chief attacking threat.

“He can [anchor] a team well and, of late, his scoring ability is fantastic,” Appiah told KweseESPN in November 2017. “For me, he is an all-round player.

“He leads simply by what he does.”

Only time will tell whether Appiah’s decision to turn back to some of the nation’s more established – but underperforming – players is a wise move.

Either way, it looks likely that Partey represents Ghana’s best hope of keeping their run of consecutive AFCON appearances alive.

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Champions League 100 club: David Beckham

In the latest instalment of our series celebrating the elite group of players to have made 100 or more UEFA Champions League appearances, we recall the career of David Beckham, the first Englishman to reach a century in the competition.



Watch highlights of Beckham's amazing career

Watch highlights of Beckham’s amazing career

Total: 107
Manchester United: 77
Real Madrid: 26
AC Milan: 2
Paris: 2


Total: 16
Manchester United: 14
Real Madrid: 2

Best performance: winner (Manchester United, 1999)

If you don’t remember him …

A classic right-sided midfielder renowned for his expert delivery from open play and set pieces – not to mention the trademark free-kicks, which gave rise to a feature film – Beckham shot to fame in 1996 after scoring from the halfway line for Manchester United against Wimbledon. “When my foot struck that ball, it kicked open the door to the rest of my life,” he later wrote in his autobiography, My Side.

Beckham shares a moment with the trophy in 1999

Beckham shares a moment with the trophy in 1999©Getty Images

A member of United’s famous class of ’92, Beckham burnished his growing global celebrity by securing the UEFA Champions League crown as part of a historic treble in 1999, the year he finished as runner-up to Rivaldo in the Ballon d’Or.

After collecting six English titles in Manchester, Beckham – one of the original Galácticos – joined Real Madrid in 2003. A scorer on his Liga debut, the Londoner dovetailed well with Zinédine Zidane, Luís Figo, Ronaldo, Raúl González and Roberto Carlos prior to his departure for LA Galaxy in 2007.

He enjoyed two brief loan spells with AC Milan before bringing down the curtain on a glittering career in 2013 with Paris, where he won Ligue 1 and became the first Englishman to clinch the league title in four different countries.

How he made it to 100 appearances

Beckham scored on his competition debut against Galatasaray in 1994 and racked up double figures for appearances every season between 1998/99 and 2002/03, testament both to his influence and to United’s success at the time. His final European outing for the Old Trafford club came against future employers Real Madrid in 2003, Beckham scoring twice from the bench in an ultimately doomed 4-3 home win.

Watch highlights of the 1999 final

Watch highlights of the 1999 final

The former England captain never advanced beyond the quarter-finals with Real, and was suspended for the fateful 2004 second leg in Monaco that confirmed a last-eight exit. Nevertheless, he became the first Englishman to bring up a UEFA Champions League century during a 4-1 win against FCSB in October 2006, while his two competition appearances for Milan came against United – the only time he ever faced his boyhood club.

His best moments

David Beckham with Madrid team-mate Luís Figo

David Beckham with Madrid team-mate Luís Figo©AFP/Getty Images

  • Winning the UEFA Champions League in 1999. Beckham played in central midfield against Bayern München at the Camp Nou and set up United’s two added-time goals with typically pinpoint corners. “I looked around and saw the cup being carried down to the pitch with Bayern Munich colours on it,” he recalled of the Red Devils’ astonishing turnaround. “Two minutes later, I had it in my own hands and it was ours.”

  • His performance against Real Madrid during the quarter-finals in April 2003. With United trailing 3-1 from the first leg and 3-2 down at Old Trafford after a Ronaldo hat-trick, Beckham was summoned from the bench and scored twice – the first a fine free-kick – to inspire brief, but ultimately forlorn, hope of a comeback to rival 1999.

  • The late free-kick against Greece at Old Trafford in 2001. England needed a point to reach the 2002 FIFA World Cup but were 2-1 down in second-half added time. After Teddy Sheringham was fouled, Beckham stepped up and placed the resultant free-kick into the top corner, sparking wild celebrations across the country.

What others said about him

“David Beckham is Britain’s finest striker of a football not because of God-given talent but because he practises with a relentless application that the vast majority of less gifted players wouldn’t contemplate.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager

“David Beckham is up there with the best passers I’ve ever played with; over a long distance he was ‘radar foot’. Some left-footers look beautiful when they pass the ball. His right foot was like that – it even sounded nice when he hit the ball.”
Rio Ferdinand, former Manchester United team-mate

Zinédine Zidane, David Beckham and Roberto Carlos at Madrid

Zinédine Zidane, David Beckham and Roberto Carlos at Madrid©Getty Images

“Beckham takes free-kicks better than me. It is a joy to watch him take free-kicks and he has proved that free-kicks are not all about power.”
Roberto Carlos, former Real Madrid team-mate

“We knew before he was a good player, but we did not expect him to be such an influential player, to show such commitment to the team spirit. The way he runs for everything, the way he tries his best. He has everyone’s respect.”
Ronaldo, former Real Madrid team-mate

“I don’t know how he manages to be so at ease outwardly on the pitch. He is almost a pop star. I couldn’t do that. It is incredible, especially given that he is as shy as me.”
Zinédine Zidane, former Real Madrid team-mate

“At the beginning he was set to train with us for two months and I didn’t think about playing him. Then I saw how he trained and I had no choice. He is a great player. He has won me over with his performances and his character. On the pitch, Beckham sees everything before everyone else.”
Carlo Ancelotti, former AC Milan coach

“The person who has negative things to say is either jealous or hates him because there are no negative things to say about him.”
Zlatan Ibrahimović, former Paris team-mate

“Beckham has always been nice to me. He has always had very good words for me. I’m sorry I could never be his coach. I would love it.”
José Mourinho, Manchester United manager

In case you missed them …

Champions League 100 club: Andriy Shevchenko
Champions League 100 club: Oliver Kahn
Champions League 100 club: Luís Figo
Champions League 100 club: Frank Lampard

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2019/20 #WU17EURO qualifying round draw pots

The 2019/20 UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship qualifying round draw will be made in Nyon at 09:00CET on Friday 23 November, with 44 of the 47 entrants beginning their bids to join hosts Sweden in the final tournament.

Draw procedure seeding pots
Pot A:
England, Norway, Netherlands, France, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland

Pot B: Austria, Belgium, Serbia, Iceland, Hungary, Scotland, Russia, Slovenia, Portugal, Turkey, Greece

Pot C: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wales, Slovakia, Northern Ireland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Israel

Pot D: Croatia, Montenegro, FYR Macedonia, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Malta, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Georgia, Albania

*Based on previous decisions of the UEFA Executive Committee and UEFA Emergency Panel, Russia and Ukraine cannot be drawn in the same group.

Bye to elite round: Spain, Germany

Bye to final tournament: Sweden (hosts)

Who is involved?
• Hosts Sweden qualify directly for the final tournament in May 2020.

• Top seeds Spain and Germany receive a bye to the elite round.

• The remaining 44 entrants start in the qualifying round where they will be split into 11 groups of four.

The draw
• There are four seeding pots in accordance with the coefficient rankings list, with the 12 countries with the highest ranking in Pot A, the next 12 in Pot B, and so on.

• Each group will have one team from each pot, with hosts then appointed to stage the mini-tournaments, provisionally scheduled between 5 August and 27 October 2019.

Road to Sweden
• The top two sides in every group plus the two third-placed teams with the best record against the top two in their section join Spain and Germany in the elite round draw on 22 November 2019, with the games in spring 2020.

• Seven teams will eventually qualify for the finals to join Sweden.

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