New Warriors captain Ovidy Karuru is delighted with his form at the ongoing Cosafa Castle Cup here in South Africa’s North West Province. He feels he has proved a point to his doubters, who questioned his recall to the national team.
BY HENRY MHARA IN SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA
There were genuine questions as to whether the skillful midfielder still had what it takes to compete at the highest level after being recalled to the Warriors squad ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia last month.
Since his mysterious return from France some few years ago, Karuru failed to make the grade at South African giants Kaizer Chiefs, who took no time to offload him. They must be regretting that decision now.
The 28-year-old would spend six months in the wilderness following the axing and only the benevolence of Joey Antipas — now coach at Amazulu — ensured the player had a new base at the South African Division One club.
Having been recalled to the Warriors squad by Norman Mapeza, the same person who give him the breakthrough as a fresh-faced 17-year-old, and handed the armband for the Cosafa Castle Cup, by Sunday Chidzambwa, the man who would help reshape his career, the Masvingo-born star, has grabbed the chance with both hands.
Mosquito, as he was affectionately called in the formative years of his career, has begged the Cosafa Man of the Match accolade twice in three matches following scintillating performances where he scored twice as the Warriors beat Mozambique in the opening Group B match on Monday.
He followed that up with a hat-trick on Friday in the 6-0 thrashing of Seychelles, as Zimbabwe qualified for this afternoon’s quarter final clash against Swaziland.
Speaking to Standardsport yesterday, Karuru said proving his critics wrong motivated him as he continued to enjoy a memorable tournament here.
“I can’t blame them [critics] for their opinions. It has been long since most of the fans saw me playing, they had to say what they think and I accept that. But it didn’t affect me as an individual because I know they have a right to say that,” he said.
“But I believe I’m still the same Karuru. People think I was not being called up to the national team because I wasn’t good anymore but the thing is, I wasn’t getting the chance to play. I was not getting a chance to prove myself and showcase my talent. And those who know me, can testify how good I am.”
One of those who believes in Karuru is Chidzambwa, the man who took him to the 2009 African Nations Championship where he shone bright and was whisked to France after the tournament.
“I have never doubted his talents, and that is why I selected him to be the captain of the team. He is one of the most naturally talented players I know,” said Chidzambwa.
Karuru’s five goals, makes him the tournament’s joint all-time top goal scorer alongside Swaziland’s Felix Bedenhorst and Sarivahy Vombola of Madagascar. Another goal and he would be at the top of the pile.
But the humble Karuru has refused to take glory from his achievements in the tournament, despite him being the star man for this Warriors squad here.
“It’s because of hard work. Not only me, but the whole team. We are complementing each other, because without my teammates, I wouldn’t be man of the match. It’s not about me, it’s about the whole group doing well and progressing to the next stage. These trophies are just a bonus and a result of a collective effort. What we want is the main trophy which we will be able to share as a group,” Karuru added.
He thinks the current Warriors squad is good enough to win the tournament and for him being the first time to compete at the regional tourney, it would be extra special.
“I won the Cosafa Under-20, and I would really love to win this one. We have the players to do it,” he said.
His performances this week has obviously attracted interest from possible suitors in the South African league and abroad. But the midfielder is keeping his feet on the ground, choosing to concentrate on what is at hand.
“All the people who have been calling me offering me a job, I have told them to wait so that I can focus on this tournament first, then talk about that later,” he said.
The form has also attracted interest from a “jealous” Warriors teammate and friend Knowledge Musona.
“I have received quiet a number of calls and messages from my Warriors friends. The other one came from Knowledge. He is feeling jealous of me, I think,” he chuckled.
“He said if I manage to break the top goal scorer record, he will come and play at the tournament next year to beat my record. It’s quite a challenge, so if I get a chance to score, I will have to score. So I want to set the record this year, then Knowledge can come and try to better it next year. I’m accepting his challenge.”
Karuru will be hoping to continue the good run of form when the Warriors take on Swaziland in their Cosafa Castle Cup quarter final encounter today.
The match kicks off at 7:30pm at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.