Kazim-Richards' last chance to conquer?
- In the wake of Jo's departure to Japan, Kazim-Richards is presented with a final opportunity to be the star front man for a faithful fanbase
As Colin Kazim-Richards lined up for Turkey in the 2008 European Championships, Corinthians, Brazil’s most supported domestic side along with Flamengo according to The Brazil Business, were deep into their Serie B season, fighting for promotion to the Serie A.
That summer turned out to be a pivotal moment in the player's career, as well as Corinthians' history. Kazim, as he has become known in Brazil, put in solid displays throughout the tournament, as 2008 turned out to be his breakout year.
His first notable appearance on the international stage came just months before the tournament. Playing for Fenerbahce in the Champions League quarter-finals, the London-born Turk scored the equalizer in his team's 2-1 victory over Chelsea.
That same year, Corinthians gained promotion back to Serie A, in a season that the faithful supporters continue to refer to as the club's defining season. The Sao Paolo-based side eventually won the Brazilian second division 17 points ahead of second-placed Santo Andre.
With the club and the player's stories crossing paths since last year, Corinthians are looking to rediscover the dominance they experienced under former coach Tite, who left to take up his dream job in charge of the now rampant Selecão.
Having won the league last season, Corinthians will be hoping to dominate domestically once more, whilst also eyeing up Copa Libertadores success. Last season they cruised to the championship with the help of the league's joint-top scorer Jo, who has now moved on to Japan.
Through his departure there is a large gap upfront and the Brazilian leaves big boots to fill and the question that needs to be asked is 'can Kazim fill them?' He will need to answer that question soon, as rival clubs' recruitment prior to this season has arguably been more ambitious than Corinthians' thus far.
Across the city, arch-rivals Palmeiras, who tend to represent a richer, more middle-class fanbase (founded by the Italian community of Sao Paulo), have bought well and strengthened with the important signing of Lucas Lima.
The Verdao look set to challenge Corinthians for the title this season, with a squad of ambitious youngsters, whilst Gremio will also be among the favourites with their brand of entertaining football and the quality playmaking of Luan.
Corinthians will only manage the dominance they achieved last season if they can rely on another double figure goalscoring striker and while Kazim thinks he can be that man, it is likely they will look to bring someone else in. Regardless, this will be Kazim's opportunity to really make an impact at the title-holders.
Corinthians' supporters have seen some big names develop or redefine careers at the club. Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez both speak highly of their time at the club and Kazim has all the traits to succeed, not only is he built for the Brazilian league, but he is able to win over the fans with his style of play, too.
Kazim is a player who gives 110 per cent on the pitch and has great movement. Despite maybe having lost a few yards of pace over the years, he has already endeared himself to the Corinthians faithful with his desire to speak Portuguese in press conferences and with his self-introduced ‘Gringo da Favela’ nickname (loosely translated: 'Foreigner of the Favela') looking set to stick over the coming campaign.
He’s certainly one to watch in Brazil this season, also because he's not getting any younger, this could be his last hurrah and he will be keen to take the oppotunity presented with Jo's departure, with the Timao hopeful that the man from East London can bring goals to the Zona Leste de Sao Paulo.Published 01 Feb 2018, 07:57 IST