Sun. Jul 12th, 2020

Marshall Munetsi: From unsung Orlando Pirates hero to Reims contract extension

When Marshall Munetsi joined Stade de Reims from Orlando Pirates last year, his new club’s director general, Mathieu Lacour, described him as “part of a logic of the future”.

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Reims have put their money where their mouths are, extending his contract until 2024. Munetsi was influential in his first Ligue 1 season, and given his impact and improvement at Orlando Pirates, perhaps this should not be a surprise.

Marshall Munetsi’s track record

The versatile Zimbabwean, who is comfortable in midfield and defence often went unnoticed during his time with the Buccaneers. Pirates fared significantly better when he was in the team than when he was left out.

After spending the 2016-17 season on loan at Baroka after joining Orlando Pirates from FC Cape Town, Munetsi saw limited game time in the following campaign. Nevertheless, Pirates picked up 31 points in the 12 league matches he played in 2017-18. The Buccaneers fared significantly better that season than in the previous one.

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In 2018-19, Munetsi began to cement a spot in the team, making 16 league appearances. Orlando Pirates secured 35 points in those games, picking up only 22 in 14 matches he did not take part in.

Pirates also enjoyed favourable results when Munetsi was in their CAF Champions League team. The Bucs kept clean sheets in all four of his appearances in that competition, picking up a win and three draws. They fared worse in the four fixtures when he was not in the side, conceding six goals and losing two games along with one draw and one win.

Munetsi’s only real blip in 2018-19 was his red card in the Telkom Knockout final defeat to Baroka. That aside, he had a campaign to be proud of.

Orlando Pirates’ 2011-12 title winning coach Augusto Palacios answered in the affirmative when asked whether or not Munetsi’s impact on the Buccaneers was often underestimated.

“Correct. tactically, he was important in different positions, good at set plays and aerial balls — not much technically, but he was strong in one vs one [situations],” the Bucs’ Head of Youth Development said.

“You have players with great skill and technique, but tactically [are lacking].

“When he was scouted [by Reims], his tactical role was observed. He can adapt depending on the system in which he is playing.”

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Palacios was not personally close to Munetsi, but was nevertheless impressed by his character.

“He showed discipline. He never complained about playing or being substituted,” the Peruvian explained.

“He went to the Africa Cup of Nations and to play for the [Zimbabwe] national team is more difficult. You have players to play local football but not international. He showed he can do both.”

Even though he was brought in with a view to the future, Munetsi made an immediate impact in France. On 25 September, he assisted Hassane Kamara’s opener in the 2-0 win over champions PSG with an inch-perfect cross. France Football reported that he also made five tackles and six interceptions in that game, coming out tops in 11 duels.

Pirates struggled in Munetsi’s absence in the early stages of the 2019-20 campaign, although they have now steadied the ship with a good run of results in 2020.

Altogether, Munetsi made 21 appearances for Reims in 2019-20 across Ligue 1, the Coupe de France, and the Coupe de La Ligue.

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