WINDHOEK – Britain-based Namibian international defender Ryan Nyambe, who plays for English Championship club Blackburn Rovers, on Saturday returned to full league action, as he played a stirring role in helping Rovers hold a relentless New Ipswich to a 2-2 draw on the opening day of the English Championship 2018/19 season.
The 20-year-old Namibian, who last season made 35 appearances in all competitions for Rovers, missed the last couple of months of the season after picking up a hamstring injury against Blackpool in March, which saw him missing out on crucial matches of the 2017/18 season.
The English Championship is the second-highest overall in the English football league system, after the Premier League.
Now fully recovered from the hamstring injury and having dusted himself off an injury-ridden 2017/18 season, Nyambe on Saturday made it into the Rovers starting line-up against Ipswich, which saw the match end in a 2-2 draw.
He played the entire match and helped guide Rovers to the draw, collecting their first point of the new season. Rovers fell behind early on when Gwion Edwards headed in Freddie Sears’ cross.
But Danny Graham poked in the equaliser after Ipswich failed to clear a free-kick, before Bradley Dack slotted home from Derrick Williams’ pass.
Ipswich struggled to create chances as they pressed for an equaliser, before Tayo Edun’s cross drifted over the Rovers defence and beyond keeper David Raya.
Relive Saturday’s EFL action as it happened
The hosts’ cause was not helped by the absence of last season’s top scorer, Martyn Waghorn, who was left out of the squad with his future at the club uncertain.
Ellis Harrison was handed a starting role up front after signing from Bristol Rovers for £750,000 in July, but it was Fulham loanee Edun who made a debut impact with a hugely fortunate first goal for the club.
At the other end, Graham and Dack continued the lethal form which helped Blackburn return to the Championship, the pair having combined for 32 league goals last season.
Tony Mowbray kept faith with the same side which earned promotion ‑ substitute Kasey Palmer was the only Rovers debutant ‑ but they were denied a first opening-day win since being relegated from the Premier League in 2012.
Ipswich manager Paul Hurst told BBC Suffolk: “The goals we conceded were very soft. [I’m] pleased in the end because of the score line and scoring at the end.
“I’m delighted for the fans, I’m pleased that we got something from the game.
“A bit of a mixed day, but overall, delighted to have managed the team and there were some characteristics shown that I want our team to be about.”
Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray told BBC Radio Lancashire: “We had a fantastic chance to make it 3-1 and finish the game.
“I didn’t feel as if we were going to concede, but we’ll pick ourselves up, we’ll work hard again in training and we’ll go again next week.”
The Namibian made his Rovers academy debut in the 2014/15 season. He progressed through the academy system and into the development squad. He was included on the bench in two first team games during the 2014/15 season and was awarded a three-year professional contract in July 2015, and in August that same year he made his debut for the first team in the Football League Cup against Shrewsbury Town. – Additional info: BBC Sport