TRIANGLE coach Taurai Mangwiro is confident Zimbabwe international Ovidy Karuru will resuscitate his faltering club career after some exhilarating displays at the ongoing Cosafa Cup tournament in South Africa.
Karuru produced two man-of-the-match performances, scoring six goals in three matches to power Zimbabwe into the semi-finals of the Cosafa Cup, igniting hopes back home that he can revive his career and fulfil the great potential he showed back in his youth days.
Zimbabwe are heavily favoured to sail past Lesotho on Wednesday and book their place in the finals, but captain Karuru has already done enough to convince mentor Mangwiro that the good times are well and truly on the way back.
“I want to commend the national team coaches for giving him (Karuru) a lifeline,” said Mangwiro, who first encountered an 11-year-old Karuru while teaching in Masvingo, before handing the player his top-flight debut at Masvingo United in 2007.
“He has been in great form. Look at how many entries he is making, you see someone coming from deep positions getting as many as five, six chances per game, that is a sign of a very good player.
“It is good that he has resuscitated himself, age is still very much on his side. I see him surpassing what he has already contributed provided he remains focused and learns from mistakes, if it were mistakes … and carry on. Hopefully he will attract better deals after Cosafa.”
Karuru, currently on the books of AmaZulu in the South African second tier, has been the key protagonist in Zimbabwe’s scintillating at the Cosafa Cup
A natural left winger, the former Kaiser Chiefs man has been redeployed in a central attacking position by coach Sunday Chidzambwa and he has consistently flourished since his opening round brace in the 4-0 thumping of Mozambique.
He bagged a hat-trick in the thrilling 6-0 win over Seychelles and was again on hand to open the scoring when a somewhat tiring Zimbabwe side battled to a 2-1 victory over Swaziland in the quarters.
Karuru’s prolific form in front of goal has come as a pleasant surprise to Zimbabwe’s football followers, since he has a reputation as primarily a menacing winger who thrives on creation rather than execution.Advertisement
In fact, he has scored just 13 league goals since leaving Zimbabwe to join French outfit Boulogne in 2009. It was perhaps the apparent lack of goals that saw him return to Africa, when he joined Kaiser Chiefs in 2014.
Zimbabwe fans had mostly forgotten about Karuru until he resurfaced at Joey Antipas’ AmaZulu in the second-half of the 2016/2017 South African season. While he managed just two league goals in 13 appearances, Antipas had seen enough to recommend him to the national team coaches.
“He is very, very creative player, normally he provides, but it is good that he is converting now. He showed some very good touches from an early age … He thrives on eliminating opponents,” Mangwiro added.
Zimbabwe are on the prowl for a record fifth Cosafa Cup crown, and Chidzambwa appears to have put together a competitive outfit capable of going all the way.
While Karuru’s exploits have grabbed the headlines, the likes of Liberty Chakoroma, Prince Dube, Talent Chawapiwa and Ocean Mushure have all done their reputations no harm.
Mangwiro is excited about the prospects for Zimbabwean football as the talent base continues to swell.
“The team itself, I was just looking at it and I was saying oh, there is going to be a headache for my colleagues, because when you look at what the Cosafa team is doing now and also look at what the senior team did in the Afcon (qualifier against Liberia) you want to think it’s going to be positive headache for the national team coaches,” he said.