THREE of the Olympique Lyon players, including Warriors forward Tink Kadewere, were selected into the Team of the Week by leading French sports magazine, L’Equipe, this week.
The magazine announced that Lyon had the lion’s share in their typical team of the 14th day, with three players and the best coach.
Kadewere is raising the Zimbabwean flag high following his explosive start in the French top-flight football league. His clinical finish against PSG on Sunday night was his fifth goal in eight appearances.
The team was selected as a reflection of the best performers from the 20 Ligue 1 teams during the weekend. Apart from Kadewere, defender Jason Denayer, midfielder Lucas Paqueta and their coach Rudi Garcia were all included in the Team of the Week for the first time this season.
Kadewere played 77 minutes and was replaced by Ivorian international, Sinaly Diomande. Curiously, none of the PSG stars made it into the L’Equipe Team of the Week.
On a night when the sport headlines were supposed to have been crafted around the Parisian superstars like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria, Kadewere somehow drew the limelight to himself.
The slump for PSG at the Parc des Princes sent the first place to Lille, who defeated Bordeaux 2-1 earlier in the day. Lyon are second on goal difference while PSG are one point off in third place. Marseille are fourth one further point behind but with two games in hand.
What added to the woes of the capital club was the injury of its ace forward Neymar, who was screaming in agony and clutching his ankle after a heavy tackle by Thiago Mendes. The Brazil star was carried off on a stretcher and his countryman Mendes was shown a direct red card.
The solitary strike by Kadewere decided the intriguing top-of-the-table clash. It was an expertly taken goal, which won him plaudits, including from the top French sports magazine, L’Equipe, which gave him a rating of 7/10.
L’Equipe is the most prestigious daily sports newspaper in the world.
“We’re very happy, it was very important for us to win, we worked well all week for this game. We stayed focused the whole game,” said Kadewere (24) in the post-match interview.
“It was also beautiful for me, I’m happy to have scored, it was my first very big game in Europe, so I’m happy to have scored and to come away with the win.”
Kadewere’s goal was even more special because this was Lyon’s first win in Paris in 14 attempts.
The last time they picked up all three points at the Parc des Princes was all the way back in October 2007 when Hatem Ben Arfa — who later turned out for PSG — struck twice in a 3-2 win with Lyon on the march to their record seventh consecutive Ligue 1 title.
The win on Sunday night took Lyon joint-top with Lille while PSG dropped into third place. And, it appears Lyon are geared up to challenge for the title again this season after falling the holders, PSG, who had led the race in the last few weeks.
It has been amazing how Kadewere has to strike a good understanding with his Lyon teammates. Many people had expected him to struggle just to break into the team when he arrived from French Ligue 2 side Le Havre where he had also shone after winning the second-tier Golden Boot with 20 goals.
The Zimbabwean is now the third Lyon player with five goals or more in Ligue 1 along with Memphis Depay (6) and Toko-Ekambi (7). ■