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Date: 16 December 2018

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Benjani proves his fitness at Blackburn, aims to impress

[Posted 02 Sep 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Benjani aims to score goals for Blackburn fans and for Sam Allardyce

English Barclays Premier League club Blackburn Rovers' new signing, Benjamin 'Benjani' Mwaruwari has proved his fitness during the training period he had under the watchful eye of his great admirer, coach Sam Allardyce.

Benjani found himself clubless when last season ended after he was off-loaded by Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. Benjani had spent an unfruitful loan spell at Steve Bruce's Sunderland during the second half of last season.

There were doubts over Benjani's fitness following his lack of game time at Sunderland and reports of knee injuries which dogged his career at Man City. It is little wonder that Allardyce made Benjani prove that he was fit for the rigours of the premiership before offering him a one year loan deal on 27 August.

"There was some question about my fitness so I came here to prove that I didn't have any problems and now I have signed", Benjani said.

Now Benjani wants to impress at Blackburn and score goals to repay Big Sam's faith in him. 

“I am delighted to be joining Blackburn. The manager has shown confidence in me and I hope I can repay the Blackburn fans with goals", added Benjani.

Benjani understands and accepts that he is now behind schedule in terms of fitness compared to his colleagues at Blackburn, and that he has to fight for his position in the team.

"I'm stil working on my fitness right now so hopefully when I am fit I will fight for a place in the team. The lads are performing so it won't be easy, I won't be able to just walk into the team, I need to work hard and I'm still working hard", Benjani reasoned.

Benjani had options to move out of England and return to France from where he caught the attention of the world through his champions league performances in the colours of Auxerre.The choice to remain in England and not take offers from France or Qatar was influenced by family considerations.

“I have to consider a lot of things now. My family lives in England and my kids go to school in Manchester, I wouldn’t want to uproot them. That would be selfish”, Benjani told the media during the period when he was still weighing up his options .

During Benjani's unveiling ceremony, Blackburn revealed that the Zimbabwean captain will be wearing jersey number 21 in the Lancashire club squad.

The former Machester City striker signed a year-long deal, with an option of a year's renewal.

Benjani first arrived in England when he became Portsmouth club's £4,1 million record signing in 2006. He impressed in the premiership by scoring more than 12 goals for Portsmouth during the  first half of the 2007/2008 season, when he was a strong contender for a Golden Boot winner in England. He then lost his way when he moved to City.

The striker, who was often used as a lone striker at Portsmouth and Man City, had his career at the Citizens affected by injuries. This led to limited game time for Benjani, and eventually he was deemed surplus to requirements by Mancini at the end of last season.

Benjani has the knack to prove critics wrong, especially when the media writes-him off. He initially struggled to score goals at Portsmouth and was almost labelled a flop. He then redeemed himself with a performance for the archives during the first half of the 2007/2008 season and led the goal scorers' chart for some time during that period.

Having endured the unenviable position of finding himself clubless, Benjani is expected to fire from all cylinders when he returns to action for the Lancashire club in two to three weeks' time. Benjani is generally a competitive player, and this season could turn out to be like the great 2007/2008 season.

Benjani was also not amused by being dropped from the Warriors' team to face Liberia this weekend, and he will seek to prove to the Warriors' caretaker coach Norman Mapeza that dropping him was probably an ill-advised move. 

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