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Benjani eyes derby glory

BENJANI Mwaruwari will make his Manchester City debut at Old Trafford in Sunday’s derby.

And the Zimbabwe international will be hoping for a happier ending than his last visit to United’s home less than two weeks ago.

That final appearance in a Pompey shirt for the 29-year-old resulted in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Fergie’s side.

But Benjani does have some happy memories against the Reds, having scored the goal that secured a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park earlier this season.

The 12-goal striker has settled in quickly to life at the state-of-the-art Carrington training facilities that offer a big contrast to those used by Portsmouth.

And though several key Blues players have been away on international duty this week, Benjani has impressed boss Sven-Goran Eriksson with his contribution.

“There was a lot of confusion around the deal – that happens now and again – but I am delighted that he has joined us,” Eriksson said.

“First and foremost he is a very good football player. He has scored 12 goals so far this season and that is a good record.”

At 29, Benjani is the most senior player signed by Eriksson, who had previously pursued a strict policy of buying young, improving performers whose value will rise in the years they stay at Eastlands.

However, a chronic lack of firepower and affordable alternatives in the January window meant that he had to make an exception in Benjani, whose immediate remit will be to grab the goals that secure the Blues a place in next season’s Uefa Cup.

“When we were given the opportunity to take Benjani, I didn’t hesitate at all, because even though he is not 21, he has the necessary Premier League experience, is very strong and a proven goal scorer at this level,” said Eriksson.

“We need him, that is for sure. He will fit in very well in terms of the system we have been playing.

“He has played up front on his own for Portsmouth on many, many occasions. If you are asking me if he will play on Sunday then I will say: ‘I hope so.’”

Eriksson knows that even if Benjani doesn’t get on the score sheet on his debut, the least he will get from his new man is a performance full of hard work and endeavour, coupled with plenty of defending from the front.

“He has always been a hard worker and that is something I admire in him,” Eriksson said.

“I know people who worked with him when he played in Switzerland for Grasshoppers and I they have told me that he always did everything for the team as well as score goals.

“That is a great combination to have. I don’t know him very well yet as a person but if you look in his eyes he looks like he is an alert player who will listen. I am sure he will be a very good signing for us.” — Manchester Evening News.

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