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Kundai Benyu – The Golden Shot?
Written by BehindBlueEyes on Tuesday, 18th Apr 2017 18:49

Having now returned to the UK from the land of the clog, I thought the Easter break would be a good opportunity to head off to Aldershot, around 15-20 miles from where I now live, to see how Kundai Benyu is progressing.

Cricket fans among you might remember Bumble’s 'Trott Watch' in the Test matches a few years ago. This is the approach I thought I’d take with reporting on Kundai, just watch him, his movement, touches etc and not the game as a whole.

I saw him recently in a game against Torquay where he shone and deservedly received the man of the match award. You can see the equalising freekick he scored below. His footballing brain and quickness of thought were definitely a factor in this goal as he checked with the referee, took the freekick while the Torquay goalkeeper was still forming his wall and out of position.

It was a great strike and his fifth goal in just 17 games for the Shots. I targeted the game with Dover given it was a top of the table clash and Kundai would face a stiffer test.

I spent some time talking to Shots fans before the game to gauge their opinions. All were very enthusiastic about ‘Benny’ as they affectionately call him. Time and time again I heard “Cracking player, too good for us and destined for a much higher level”, “Future Premiership player”, “Been the difference between a possible relegation scrap and being in with a real shot of the play-offs”, “Just quality”, “He floats around the pitch and always looks to have so much time” and “Very talented, head and shoulders above anyone else we have.” I think it’s fair to say the Shots fans love him and are just grateful to have him there.

So, onto the Dover game and ‘Benny Watch’. Aldershot started well but Benyu was struggling to get involved. This was mainly due to the Dover management targeting and man marking him; first with a big lad twice Benny’s size and later in the first half by the more mobile Tyrone Sterling.

Gary Waddock and his coaching staff were desperately trying to buy him more space to get on the ball by moving him from central midfield, left wing, right wing and also up top, joining their lone striker.

There were brief flashes of what he can do, deft little touches, a stirring run from the halfway line to the opposite edge of the penalty area and a sumptuous through ball leading to a shot just past the post.

There was certainly no lack of effort on his part with a few decent sliding tackles, interceptions and tracking back with a runner from midfield. First half ended in a stalemate with Kundai looking a little frustrated.

Waddock changed things around at half-time bringing on another striker and pushing midfielder Bernard Mensah further forward in an attempt to push the Dover defence back and loosen the shackles.

Benny started the second half in what Football Manager fans would know as a deep lying playmaker and it certainly suited him. Sitting just in front of the defence, he now had the space and began to run the show as Aldershot pressed forward in wave after wave of attacks.

The Shots were given a freekick in virtually the same place as Benny’s Torquay goal but this time the referee made him wait and his attempt was deflected over. He was constantly urging his team-mates on. He wasn’t involved in the penalty which was scored by Matt McClure whom you may remember him from spells at Wycombe Wanderers and Dagenham & Redbridge.

Dover offered little in way of a reply apart from a couple of shots after Aldershot had been reduced to 10 men in the 85th minute and the Shots fans were celebrating a win that had taken them back into the play-off places, although Dover can overhaul them if they win their game in hand.

He seems happy at Aldershot and enjoying his football. He has built up a good partnership with Bernard Mensah in midfield, one covers if the other goes forward and there is a lot of one touch interplay between the two.

He looks very comfortable on the ball with most passes short and accurate and mainly looking to move forward. Good vision and definitely has an eye for the killer pass. He takes all of the set pieces for the Shots, freekicks and corners, and always wants to be involved.

Waddock’s team like to play the ball on the ground and they also have a fair amount of pace so probably the perfect set-up for young Benyu. Thanks to Aldershot’s link with Chelsea (their U23s play there), the pitch is absolutely superb and that can only help his natural passing game.

His heading could do with a little work as could his tackling but that can be worked on. He can play anywhere in midfield but he looked especially effective in the deeper role he played in the second half on Monday.

One other thing I did notice. He’s the outlet when Aldershot concede a freekick anywhere near their area or a corner. Not once did he go back and cover, just stayed in the centre circle waiting for the clearance, usually with two Dover players covering him.

He looks a good prospect and I can’t help thinking had we had a better season he may well have been one of the youngsters MM wanted to give a game to see how he would adapt in the tougher Championship arena.

I’m now thinking of going to their final game against Braintree at the EBB Stadium on the 29th April and see if I can have a chat with the man himself and see what he makes of his time there and his future at ITFC.

All in all, there’s a lot to like about young Kundai Benyu!

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Mullet added 19:01 - Apr 18
Cheers for this, a really nice piece on someone we're probably all hoping can contribute next season with so much pressure on us financially. Does he look like he'd cope physically with a more demanding pace and step up?

Interesting to hear about Mensah being there. I remember him being a prospect at Watford and still only 22 and out of contract this summer according to wiki. The vast hording of players seems to have a trickle down effect that increases the quality just below league football in a way it never used to.

BehindBlueEyes added 20:28 - Apr 18
Hi Mullet, cheers for that. From the couple of games I've seen although he's quite slight he's not easily brushed off the ball. He had a test against Dover with their man marking in the first half and came through it with flying colours. Dover did the full in your face press on him especially in the first half and he always looked like he had all the time in the world when he had the ball. One of his strengths is running at pace straight at defenders and they don't like that at any level of the game. Be interesting to see how he will get on at a higher level.

With a decent pre-season I'm hopeful he can really make a push for a first team place although I wouldn't be surprised if MM tries to farm him out on loan to a League 1 team.

Mensah was an interesting one. He and Benny really seem to have developed a good understanding and I wouldn't be surprised if a league side picked him up in the summer.

TractorBeezer added 21:35 - Apr 18
Thanks for the Harlem Blue. That was a very interesting and informative piece. He sounds like a good'un!

Edmundo added 23:40 - Apr 18
Could we see a pre season 11 with Emmanuel, Kenlock, Dozzell, Benyu, and Bishop? With Tommy Smith, could mean we finally have an Academy product core.

therein61 added 07:33 - Apr 19
Good insight into a young man with prospects

KBsSocks added 21:42 - Apr 19
Thanks for the comprehensive and entertaining report - "Benny" looks an interesting prospect. Hope he continues to progress, and hopefully get good enough for ITFC first XI :-)

RoyalAscotBlue added 09:54 - Apr 20
Kundai Benyu will never ever get anywhere near our first team squad again, so long as MM is still the manager. Kundai made it to the bench last season but had a fall out with MM and has subsequently been out on loan... The end.

We need to get rid of Mick McCarthy. We have talented young players on our books but they are all held back by Mick. Just look at how results (and performances) have changed since Mick was forced (by injury) to give Kenlock a chance.

bluehert added 12:54 - Apr 21
Great read - love the Matt McClure line...!
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