By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Spotting jersey number 11, Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba finally made his long awaited Aston Villa debut as they emphatically beat Crewe Alexandra 6-1 in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
The former Bantu Rovers starlet, son to former Hwange goalkeeper, Anthony, had not broken the ice in the English Premier League since his move from Belgian side Club Brugge, largely due to low fitness levels compounded by an injury he picked up on national duty at the Total Caf Africa Cup of Nations against Egypt.
On Tuesday night, Villa coach Dean Smith made 10 changes to the team that stunned Everton on Friday and also gave Nakamba his chance, which he seemed to have grabbed with both hands as he never put a foot wrong the entire 90 minutes.
Ashley Preece, the Aston Villa writer, in his piece on the Birminghammail.co.uk website, said Nakamba “made angles for fun”.
“A very slick operator, it has to be said. Anchored Villa’s midfield well and things will only get better for Nakamba in claret and blue now. Does have his work cut out to edge out Douglas Luiz in the holding midfield role, but he’s a completely different player as he’s much more defensive-minded, and Smith will no doubt turn to him depending on the Premier League opposition. Took an extravagant pot shot from range but, all in all, it was a solid showing from Nakamba, who’ll be a key member of Villa’s squad. Fast, slick on the ball and positionally good. Didn’t see too much of him which is exactly what you want from your defensive midfielder, screened the back four admirably,” wrote Preece.
According to Preece, whose task on the night was to see how Nakamba plays in his debut, the Zimbabwe international knows exactly how to turn his body so teammates can find him for a pass in tight areas. “More defensively-minded than Douglas Luiz and likes to sweep up the danger. His trademark is a swivelling, sweeping slide tackle, did that twice in the game, winning the ball from off a Crewe midfielder to thwart an attack. He’s got a trick in him too, which was evident when he dragged the ball back to leave a Crewe wide man for dead while he nutmegged another with a cheeky Cruyff turn.
“Didn’t put a foot wrong in truth, was pressurised by Crewe’s Callum Ainley, who played on his toes but, as the game went on, found it easier and easier. Tougher tests will come, make no mistake about that, but Nakamba got some much-needed minutes in the legs and impressed throughout,” wrote Preece.
Zimbabweans will now wait to see if Smith will hand the “marvellous” Nakamba his English Premiership debut when they take on Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Chronicle
Source: Nehanda Radio