BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
STADE DE REIMS coach David Guion coach has tipped Zimbabwe international Marshall Munetsi to “become a very great player’ after his impressive start to life in the French Ligue 1 where his side are currently third on the log and on course to feature in European club football next season.
The 52 year-old seasoned manager who rose through the ranks at Stade de Reims from the club’s head of youth in 2012 to the reserve coach and caretaker boss before becoming head coach two years ago, has been charmed by Munetsi’s brilliant start to French football.
Munetsi joined Reims in June after three seasons in South Africa with Orlando Pirates, which included a loan stint with Baroka FC, where he displayed incredible versatility with solid displays in midfield and defence.
Although he was not a regular at Pirates, Munetsi caught the eye of Stade de Reims, who moved quickly to sign him before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
After initially getting his career at Reims off to a slow start following an injury during preseason, Munetsi looks to have established himself at the six-time French champions, who are currently punching above their weight in French’s topflight league.
And Guion, who took a gamble by signing Munetsi, even though he seemed to be struggling to challenge for a regular starting spot at Pirates has tipped the Zimbabwean to become a star at the club.
“He will become a very great player,” Guion was quoted by the French football website butfootballclub.fr yesterday.
“We are happy to have Marshall, he comes from the end of the world, at the bottom of the globe, (he’s) always smiling and listening. I think he will become a very great player. He has never disappointed me, every time (from the time) he came in, he has conducted himself well. I place a lot of hopes in him. In the coming years, he will become a player who will count for the Stade de Reims,” said the French technician.
Munetsi produced a spellbinding and well-polished performance in his first start for the French League 1 side to put global superstar Neymar in the shade in his team’s clash against Paris Saint Germaine last month.
Munetsi was the star of the show as Reims defeated PSG 2-0 in their own backyard, with the former Orlando Pirates midfielder setting up the opening goal for Hassane Kamara with a brilliantly whipped cross towards the hour mark for the forward to nod home.
In total, Munetsi, who is expected to play a crucial role in the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, has made six appearances, five of them coming from the bench, while also managing one assist.
The Friendly Academy product also opened up on his start to life in French football in a wide ranging interview with Reims’ official website on Thursday, attributing his seamless transition to the support he has received from the club.
“I would like to thank the club for having trusted me, since I came to play in Europe, which was always my goal. I was very well received, the team is like a family, as soon as we need something they are there to help and the work environment but also the city is very pleasant,” Munetsi said.
The Warriors star, who is currently understudy to veteran France-born Togolese midfielder Jacques-Alaixys Romao at Reims said he was happy to bid his time at the club as he seeks to establish himself.
“Patience is the key. Running alongside good players can be effective because it creates a positive emulation. With Alaixys for example, we have already had a lot of discussions about what I should do or not to improve myself. It’s nice to have a leader like him on the team, it helps us to be better,” he said.
Nakamba was on Wednesday called up to the Zimbabwe Warriors squad for next month’s African Cup of Nations 2021 qualifiers, where he will be expected to be part of a star studded midfield paring with Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba.
Zimbabwe will host Botswana in the opening Group H match of the qualification campaign scheduled for Babourfields Stadium on November 15 before travelling to Zambia for a date against the hosts four days later.