Antonio suffers injury

The winger was substituted 37 minutes into the match with a suspected ankle problem following a rough tackle from an opponent.

WARRIORS prospect Bill Antonio could miss what is left of the season for his Belgium league side Mechelen after picking an injury in his team's 2-3 win away at Cercle Brugge on Saturday.

The winger was substituted 37 minutes into the match with a suspected ankle problem following a rough tackle from an opponent.

The club are yet to announce the gravity of the injury, but the 21-year-old looked to be in serious pain as he was helped off the pitch by the team's medics.

It is unclear if he will be available for the team's last two matches of the first phase of the league season.

Mechelen who also had another Zimbabwean, Munashe Garan’anga in the starting lineup, are unbeaten in their last nine matches.

The club currently occupy eighth position on the log standings and need to win their remaining two matches to stand a chance of finishing in the top six.

Teams finishing in the top six will play in the Championship round play-offs to determine the league champion as well as teams that will play in the Uefa Champions and Europa Leagues.

Those finishing in position seven to 12 will compete in the Uefa Conference League play-offs, while the rest fight in the relegation play-offs.

Antonio's injury setback comes as the former Dynamos star was beginning to settle at the club since being promoted into the first team squad a few weeks ago.

The Warriors midfielder joined the club two years ago, but spent the entire last season playing for the development squad.

He was only promoted into the senior squad two months ago, and has been an instant hit.

Antonio is increasingly becoming a key member of the squad, starting in their last eight matches, in a period that the club has enjoyed massive success on the field.

The Dzivarasekwa-born winger has scored three goals in 12 appearances.

He has been rewarded for his good performance with a new three-year contract which he signed a fortnight ago.

Mechelen announced a fortnight ago that Antonio had signed a contract extension until 2027 with an option for an extra year.

“The 21-year-old wing attacker has been convincing within the first team in recent weeks and is thus rewarded for his hard work,” the club announced.

Antonio said he is enjoying his time at Mechelen.

“I had to adapt to football here,” Antonio said. “But I just kept working hard. I feel great with the club, my teammates and the supporters. My goal is to help the team move forward. It's great that I can continue to do that within the club's system in the coming years.”

Club sporting director Tim Matthys said they are thrilled with Antonio's progress since joining two years ago. “Bill has developed fantastically and is now showing what we had in mind for him. We can only be happy about that, and we want to reward him for that.”

Antonio is expected to form part of the Warriors squad when the team resumes its 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign in June with back to back clashes against Lesotho and South Africa.

He has one cap with the senior national team, which he made as an 18-year old against South Africa in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in Johannesburg, three years ago.

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