BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
AFTER recently struggling with fitness issues, Zimbabwe international striker Tino Kadewere has finally regained full fitness in time for his French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyon’s tough title run-in, which begins with a home clash against log leaders Lille today.
The race for the league has reached the final stretch with the top four teams separated by three points, five matches before the season ends.
Lyon are currently in fourth place with 67 points, three behind leaders Lille, while PSG are second with 69 points and Monaco third on 68.
The 25-year-old Warriors forward has missed two cup matches, a penalty shootout win over third-tier side Red Star and the 2 – 0 midweek quarter-final home defeat to Monaco in the French Cup, due to injury.
Kadewere also missed two league wins, first against Angers and then against Nantes.
The striker is in line for selection for the crucial clash against Lille and he also understands the challenge that lies ahead for the club in the quest to achieve set targets.
“Thanks for all the messages I got Now rehab is done and we back to business, five important games to finish this season on, we not giving up @ol #Godaboveall #InGodWeTrust #Tshaz #ImpossibleisNothing @adidasfootball,” the striker said in a social media post on Friday morning.
The post was also accompanied by a video of the player’s fitness training drills on his road to recovery.
Kadewere has been crucial in Lyon’s title challenge this season contributing 10 goals and three assists in 30 matches so far this season.
Lyon coach Rudi Garcia confirmed that Kadewere could be available for selection ahead of the match against Lille.
“Diomande is absent. We could have Tino Kadewere and Djamel Benlamri back. Florent Da Silva is not available. We should also get Jason Denayer back. I will be in the stands. Memphis (Depay) will be suspended against Lorient,” he said during a press conference.
The club will play another title contender Monaco next weekend before winding up the season with ties against Lorient, Nimes and Nice respectively.
“It’s five finals. It will take a fighting spirit. We would have liked to have two more matches, but we will not have them. We are going to put everything towards achieving this objective. We are fourth, and we must do better.
“We have to get stuck in with what will be a wild end to the season. We will do everything to take advantage of this visit from Lille to move up a place in the table. “It’s added motivation, especially since we are frustrated with Wednesday’s match.
“This will be the best way to answer that — Lille are in first (place). They are having an extraordinary season. We have the possibility of moving ahead of them. It won’t be easy, but we want to do it anyway,” Garcia said.
Kadewere has struggled for goals in the New Year having netted just three goals in 14 matches including a brace against St Étienne on January 24.
The only other goal came in a 1 – 1 draw against Marshall Munetsi’s Stade de Reims in early March.
He will be looking to finish the season on a high.