He may have lost a bit of his sharpness but Jimmy Gatete has expressed his readiness to fight for a place on the starting team at both club and national team levels.
The striker says he’s now 100 percent free from all the nagging injuries that have plagued his career in the last two seasons.
A strained thigh muscle kept the Rwandan international on the sidelines for the entire 2005/6 and half of 2006/7 season very much to his utter frustration.
Being on the sidelines for such long a time is a sort of nightmare any sportsman or women can not wish to face in their careers and Gatete is no exception.
“After such a long time out injured, I now feel totally free from any injury and I’m ready to fight for a place on the team (APR Fc) next season,” he told Times Sport yesterday by telephone.
He added, “When you are just returning from such long term injuries, it’s always hard to break into the first team but I feel I am ready fight for my number.”
Already a veteran in the trade at only 26, Gatete found games hard to come by last season under Congolese coach Andy Mfutila, which also cost him enough playing time with the national team.
Nonetheless, he is confident, the situation is going to be different next season, “Towards the end of last season, I got a few games under my belt and showed how good still I’m.
“There are times when I didn’t get a chance to play even when I felt fit but it was always the coach’s decision to pick the best team,” he acknowledged.
A renowned goal scorer throughout his career, Gatete is undoubtedly the country’s most celebrated footballer but he admits that with so many good strikers at the club, it’s never going to be easy to be the coach’s first choice but is ready to give it a go.
He said, “Since I returned from that injury (strained thigh muscle), I have been ready to play for APR and Amavubi and the situation hasn’t changed.”
Asked if he doesn’t feel any pressure from the type of competition for places at club and national team levels, he said, “Why would I feel pressure. I don’t fear to compete for a place on the team against any player, even if they signed Eto’o (the Barcelona and Cameroon) ace.”
A fan’s darling and the club’s top administrators, Gatete has found himself down the pecking order at APR behind Joseph Bwalya, Kabange Twite, Abbas Rassou and even Andre.