The Sunday Mail
WITH his white earphones plugged, a calm and composed Marvelous Nakamba disembarked from the team bus at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey last Wednesday.
In a short video posted by Nakamba’s new Belgian side Club Brugge just before their clash with Basaksehir Istanbul, the 23-year-old Warrior looked ready to explode in his second ever Uefa Champions League match.
It was the second leg of the Uefa Champions League qualification round; the first leg had ended 3-3 at Club Brugge’s home Jan Breydelstadion a week prior.
Nakamba played 90 minutes, albeit in a losing cause, as Club Brugge fell 0-2 to an Emmanuel Adebayor-inspired Istanbul to crash out of the Champions League 3-5 on aggregate.
But the Bantu Rovers product had made his mark and is making some huge strides towards repaying his US$4,5 million.
The midfielder, who joined from Vitesse Arnhem in June, is already being touted as a potential key player for the 14-time Belgian champions.
Nakamba played the entire match on his Uefa Champions League debut at home against Istanbul on July 26.
A few days later, he was named in the Belgian League Team of the Week after a putting on a memorable 75 minutes as Club Brugge romped to a 4-0 win over Lokeren in a season opener.
Described on Club Brugge’s official website as an energetic midfielder with excellent passing and dueling, Nakamba was bought as a potential successor to revered 40-year-old defensive linkman Timmy Simons, who has close to a century caps for the Belgium national team.
And with just three games under his belt, Nakamba – who is the club’s most expensive signing this window – is proving to be a worthwhile buy for Brugge’s Croatian coach Ivan Leko.
Nakamba was outstanding on his Belgian First Division debut when Club Brugge ran riot at Lokeren last Saturday, in a game the Zimbabwean international was given a first class rating. He made 43 touches and completed 31 passes for a passing accuracy rating of 87,1 percent.
That rating earned him a place in the Team of the Week although he was substituted in the 75th minute as a precautionary measure after having picked up a yellow card.
Club Brugge know they may have struck gold with Nakamba, and the club’s Press office has a special task to protect their man.
Club Brugge head of communication Kirsten Willem reckons the fast-rising Zimbabwean star needs time to settle before the media zooms in on him.
“I don’t think it will be possible (to talk to him) now because we are playing in Europe and the league has just started. Give him a little more time and you will talk to him,” said Willem.
Belgium football analysts have mixed opinions over Nakamba, with John Chapman – Uefa-accredited journalist who writes on Belgian football for ESPN – describing the Zimbabwean’s move to Brugge as a step in the right direction.
“Good for Marvelous Nakamba to play for Club Brugge,” Chapman tweeted just before Brugge’s Uefa first leg encounter against Istanbul.”
Will Downing, a football and athletics commentator for various channels including Fox Sports, thinks the jury is still out on Nakamba.
“Club Brugges have just signed Marvelous Nakamba. Marvelous, eh? I’ll be the judge of that,” he tweeted on July 29 as Club Brugge prepared to take on Lokeren.
But there is no denying the fact that there is a strong belief at Brugge – his appearance on the match day poster for the club’s first leg Uefa qualifier against Istanbul being testimony – that the Zimbabwean can blossom at the Belgian giants.