MARVELOUS NAKAMBA got a big test of his pedigree in the English Premier League against champions Manchester City and the Zimbabwean star midfielder did not look out of place at the Etihad despite Aston Villa’s 0-3 loss yesterday.
Nakamba was not overawed by the occasion as he battled against World stars – Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva — in the middle of the park.
His father Antony Nakamba watched the match from Lusaka, Zambia where he is visiting and told The Sunday Mail that he was a bit nervous for his son, but felt relieved after Marvelous put on another decent performance on his sixth straight Premiership start.
“It was a nice feeling watching my son up against the world stars, but I was a bit nervous. I am however relieved now, they were playing against a great team and he (Marvelous) tried his best,” he said.
Nakamba made three crucial tackles and got a rating of 6.7 after another cool performance in front of the back four.
Manchester City’s win left them three points behind log leaders Liverpool who play Tottenham at Anfield today.
While this ended up being a routine win for Pep Guardiola’s side, they had to work hard and wait to break down a well-organised Villa side.
The visitors had largely frustrated City in the first half but their resistance lasted for only 20 seconds after the restart.
After Villa squandered possession from their own kick-off, Ederson’s long punt forward was flicked on by Gabriel Jesus and into the path of Raheem Sterling, who made no mistake.
Jesus should have made it 2-0 soon afterwards when a mistake by Bjorn Engels left him clean through, but a combination of a Tom Heaton save and a brilliant goal-line clearance by Tyrone Mings denied him.
City had to wait until the 65th minute for their second goal, which was eventually awarded to Kevin de Bruyne after a long delay for a VAR decision.
It was unclear at first glance whether David Silva or Raheem Sterling, who would have been offside from a Silva touch, had got a deflection on De Bruyne’s wicked curling cross, but it was ruled it had gone straight in and was allowed to stand.
Ilkay Gundogan made absolutely sure of the points a few moments later, when Fernandinho’s shot was cleared into his path, and he expertly adjusted his body to put away a fine first-time finish.
The hosts finished the game with 10 men after Fernandinho was shown a second yellow card.
Villa came to a sodden Etihad Stadium after taking seven points from their previous three games, and with the message from their manager Dean Smith that City were “not superhuman” and they had nothing to fear.
They did more than just keep City quiet in a tight opening period, with John McGinn bringing a fine fingertip stop from Ederson — the Scot also went close to a consolation before the end when he hit the post after the City keeper had denied Douglas Luiz.
The only slight disappointment from Villa’s point of view was that they did not see more of Jack Grealish with the ball at his feet in the City half, the midfielder’s role here involving rather more defensive duties.
There were still some neat passes and a couple of trademark flashes of his quick feet that saw the away fans break into chants of ‘Super Jack’, but he did not create a single chance or do much to back up his claims this week that he wants a senior England call-up.
But, with Warriors duties beckoning on November 15 and 19, Zimbabwean fans would have been left happy and praying that Nakamba maintains the kind of form he has shown in the English Premiership.
Nakamba is a key member of the squad named by coach Joey Antipas ahead of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Botswana at home on November 15 and away to Zambia on the night of November 19 at the Heroes National stadium in Lusaka.