BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE international striker Tino Kadewere is hoping to rediscover his scoring touch and net his first goal of the calendar year when his French Ligue 1 football side Olympique Lyon visit Geoffroy-Guichard to face city rivals St Etienne tonight.
Kadewere was the hero the last time the two teams clashed after rising from the bench to score a memorable brace as Lyon ran out 2-1 winners in a tie popularly referred to as The Derby since both sides are located in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
The 25-year-old forward is enjoying his first season in the French top-flight having contributed seven goals and three assists to his club’s title challenge.
But Kadewere has fired blanks in the three matches played so far this season.
The Zimbabwean joined coach Rudi Garcia for his first pre-match press conference duties in 2020 on Friday.
“It will be a difficult game. We have to win for the supporters because they will not be there. We have to do it for them. I also want to open my goal account in 2021. I can assure you that I haven’t lost my confidence. I have playing time. I don’t let myself be distracted. Goals will come naturally,” Kadewere said.
Kadewere’s last goal contribution to the club was in the last match of 2020 when Lyon beat Nantes 3-0 and the striker scored the second goal and created the third.
The festive season break in which he travelled to Zimbabwe appears to have affected his form.
Kadewere reflected on the double he scored in the reverse fixture.
“It [the brace] gave me a lot of confidence. It boosted my understanding and my sense of belonging to the club. I knew it was a very important game for the club and the supporters.
“I understood that we had to be 100% for this match. People talked to me about the derby all the time. This match was constantly in my head and that’s why I dreamt of it,” he said.
Joining from Ligue 2 side Le Havre in January side, many thought Kadewere would take time to adapt to a new league and new team, but he had other ideas.
His sparkling form has seen him voted Lyon’s best find of the season by the club’s supporters while he was also nominated for December player of the month in Ligue 1.
“I play for a very good club and with great teammates. I get a lot of support from the players and supporters even though I hadn’t played in front of them. They constantly encourage me.
“The messages I receive give me the confidence and energy to keep giving my all. There is an excellent staff, especially the coach. They help me a lot. This is the main reason for my success at the moment,” he said.
“I can still do better. I’m getting used to my new position on the pitch. It went well. I do whatever it takes to adapt as quickly as possible. Communication is important on the ground. It helps me to play better. We had some difficulties in the last matches, but we are working. I have to do even more offensively and defensively,” he said.
However, Kadewere’s dip in form has coincided with the club’s struggles as the French giants have won just one of their last three matches, a run which has cost them a place at the top of the table.
Lyon are still smarting from a shock 1-0 home loss to FC Metz last weekend ending a 16-match unbeaten run.
The club beat RC Lens 3-2 in the first match of the year before playing out a two-all draw with Rennes and then lost to Metz.