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The Zimbabwe Gazette

Benjani among great African stars - Fifa
Friday, 16 November 2007

WARRIORS captain Benjani Mwaruwari has been named by world football governing body Fifa as one of the outstanding Africa players in the world so far this season. Benjani — who is expected in Harare today to be the guest of honour at the CBZ Cup final between Dynamos and Highlanders at Barbourfields on Sunday — has scored eight goals for Portsmouth in the English Barclays Premiership.

The Herald (Harare) By Augustine Hwata The Warriors striker has a free weekend as Portsmouth are inactive because of Euro 2008 qualifiers around Europe this weekend. Benjani has scored eight goals for Pompey in a storming start to the season and leads the scorers’ charts in England. On Wednesday Fifa posed the question — "Who is the best African player?" — on its website and this provoked a debate that drew comments from fans across the globe. "There was a time when the likes of Roger Milla, Rabah Madjer, Abedi Pele and George Weah were one-offs, rare African pearls who sparkled in some of the world’s most prestigious championships. "This is no longer the case. "Strikers have a conspicuous presence on the (current) list. Ivorian Didier Drogba of Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers’ South African goal-getter Benni McCarthy finished as the top two scorers in the 2006/07 English Premier League, while Portsmouth’s Zimbabwean Benjani (Mwaruwari), Togolese luminary Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal and Obafemi Martins, who stars for Newcastle United and Nigeria, have all illuminated the same championship this season. "Over in the 2006/07 Spanish La Liga, Sevilla’s Fredi Kanoute of Mali finished short of just two rivals in the race to succeed Samuel Eto’o, Barcelona’s Cameroonian luminary, as the Pichichi recipient," reads the report on Chelsea’s Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah of Fenerbahce (both Ghanaians), Mahamadou Diarra of Real Madrid and Mali and Egypt playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika, who plays in his homeland for Al Ahly, were also mentioned as deserving consideration. {mosgoogle} Fifa has also included Senegal’s controversial forward El Hadji Diouf of Bolton Wanderers, SaintEtienne’s Guinean ace Pascal Feindouno and the Toure bothers — Kolo of Arsenal and Yaya of Barcelona. But it is the inclusion of Benjani on that list that appears to consolidate the Zimbabwean’s status as one of the best strikers in the English Premiership and also the second best player in that league. According to the Actim Index’s release on Tuesday this week, Benjani remains the leading striker in the English Premiership with an index score of 252 points. Actim Statistics are a collection of team, player and match statistics derived from all the actions that take place during a match, including goals, shots on target, corners, fouls, offsides, passes, tackles, blocks and clearances. The raw information is then processed to come up with a wide range of tables and statistics such as player profiles, team and player head-to-heads and official form guides in the English Premiership. Benjani has been at the top of the goal scorers’ chart since the end of September and is way ahead of Adebayor of Togo, who has an index score of 210 points and is the seventh best player in the league. Carlos Tevez of Manchester United and Argentina is the third best striker with 208 points. Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas is rated the best player in the English Premiership as well as the most outstanding midfielder with 287 points, followed by Benjani and Chelsea skipper Frank Lampard at third with 241. Powered by Joomla! Generated: 1 December, 2007, 23:27

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Benjani’s team-mate David James was rated the best goalkeeper in the past week with 180 index points and is the 24th best player. The Warriors skipper’s fine form has not only been noticed by Fifa and the official player ratings system of the English Premiership, but also by Italian giants Juventus. Reports indicate that Juventus are keen on opening talks for the player, whose humble beginnings were at Lulu Rovers, University and Air Zimbabwe Jets before using Jomo Cosmos in South Africa as the launch pad to Europe. The Old Lady, as Juventus are known in Italy, have dangled a 7 million pound carrot for Benjani and this has prompted Portsmouth to offer a contract extension to the player. Benjani joined the English side in 2005 and still has 18 months left on his contract but Portsmouth are eager to retain the player secured for a then club record 4,4 million pounds from French side AJ Auxerre. Benjani is going nowhere. He is a big player for us, an important one," said Pompey manager Harry Redknapp. "(Club chairman) Peter Storrie is going to sit down with him and start talking about another contract. "He has come so far for us and it’s great to see him scoring goals. ‘It’s good to see him getting his reward for how he’s been playing. He is full of confidence at the moment and it’s brilliant to see." Redknapp believes Benjani is on song right now. "The way Benjani shrugged off (Manchester City defender) Micah Richards in the first half on Sunday showed that. He just knocked off the ball a player with his strength and power. He’s on fire at the moment. Nothing can stop him," he said. Benjani’s current form is in stark contrast to the days he joined the club and went for 14 games without a goal. Redknapp stood by him and Benjani repaid the faith by scoring the crucial goal against Wigan which helped his side escape from the jaws of relegation. "It’s good that people are talking about Benji and they are saying clubs are interested in him. It shows you how well he’s doing. They wouldn’t be saying that if he was playing badly. "Even when he wasn’t scoring he was playing well for us, but people see the goals. The fact is he’s enjoying it here and we are not selling him."

Actim Index - Premier League Barclays Premier League Top 10 players Name Team Index Score 1 F. Fabregas Arsenal 287 2 B. Mwaruwari Portsmouth 252 3 F. Lampard Chelsea 241 4 R. Ferdinand Man Utd 235 5 B. Elano Man City 234 6 M. Petrov Man City 215 7 E. Adebayor Arsenal 210 Powered by Joomla! Generated: 1 December, 2007, 23:27

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8 C. Tevez Man Utd 208 9 M. Laursen Aston Villa 204 10 G. Agbonlahor Aston Villa 204

Top 5 goalkeepers Name Index Score Index Rank Team 1 D. James 180 24 Portsmouth 2 J. Reina 176 25 Liverpool 3 P. Cech 171 29 Chelsea 4 B. Friedel 168 32 Blackburn 5 E. van der Sar 160 38 Man Utd

Top 5 defenders Name Index Score Index Rank Team 1 R. Ferdinand 235 4 Man Utd 2 M. Laursen 204 9 Aston Villa 3 G. Johnson 199 12 Portsmouth 4 G. Clichy 191 13 Arsenal 5 J. Lescott 186 16 Everton Top 5 midfielders Name Index Score Index Rank Team 1 F. Fabregas 287 1 Arsenal 2 F. Lampard 241 3 Chelsea 3 B. Elano 234 5 Man City 4 M. Petrov 215 6 Man City 5 J. Utaka 201 11 Portsmouth Top 5 strikers Name Index Score Index Rank Team 1 B. Mwaruwari 252 2 Portsmouth 2 E. Adebayor 210 7 Arsenal 3 C. Tevez 208 8 Man Utd 4 G. Agbonlahor 204 10 Aston Villa 5 A. Young 184 18 Aston VillaCopyright © 2007 The Herald. All rights reserved. Powered by Joomla! Generated: 1 December, 2007, 23:27