Thursday, September 21, 2017

Highlanders Bosso Tshilamoya - The shrewd coaches

(Barry Daka - one of the best)
In each Highlanders Bosso generation, one cannot single out one player or coach for greatness. They always were an incredulous unit of workmanship and entertainers. Bosso had great coaches who moulded the players into a livewire football team that kept the City of Kings electrified week-in and week out. 

This would always be the scenario whether the team was home or away, with very loud and black and white roadshows every weekend. All of these coaches were gifted differently.

Barry Daka, - this man breathed, ate and slept football. Bhibhiza had the style. He spent lots of times reading new football concepts. He kept himself up to date with modern coaching methods. The time of his vision had not yet arrived in his era such that his stay as head coach was characterised by exciting but less fruitful seasons.

He coached the teams with the likes of David Phiri, Alex Maseko, Douglas British Mloyi, Abraham Madondo, Nhamo Shambira, Titus Majola, Thuthani Moyo and Benjamin Matambanadzo Mpofu to name but a few. UBarry, as many know him, had played and coached Olympics, a team he founded after a rebellious fallout with Highlanders in the early 1980s. 

I worked with Barry on a very successful project at Railstars, taking the team from the First Division to the Premier League in very dramatic fashion. As his assistant and goalkeeper coach, I went on to add a portfolio of team management and I leant a lot from the man.

He assisted Wieslow Graboskwi in the 1995 All Africa Games in Harare, winning a silver medal with the Under 23 team. He coached the Zimbabwe national team on numerous occasions. 

Cosmos Zulu was a hard man of football. Tsano, as he is popularly known, believed in shaping the team’s physical frame and demanding the best. He was very much result-oriented. He did managerial duties for the team as well.

He worked with Captain Oxo – Peter Nkomo, Mackey Nyathi, Nqobizitha Humptey Maenzanise, Fanuel Malume Ncane Ncube, Madinda Ndlovu, the list is endless.

Tsano also trained goalkeepers, including myself, and went on to work with Amazulu of Bulawayo in a very successful stinct as a coach and manager over Usuthu's existance.

Roy Barretto was very versatile and shrewd, probably the best and most successful of the lot to date. URoy believed in the same school of thought as Barry Daka, that of modernising the game plans and training methods. He spent his energies on statistics and data to manipulate his opponents and to psyche his players. He got the most out of players.

Even better, he had an incredible crop of Adam and Peter Ndlovu, Cleopas Nkatha Dlodlo, Benjie Nkonjera, Thabani B-Car Moyo, Boy Ndlovu, Rahman Gumbo and so many others.

UMkula got this crop to play the most exciting football that brought results. It is always tough to balance this blend. His technical team included Brry Daka, Tsano and Doctor Vik Naik.

Barretto had been very succesful with Zimambwe Saints and worked very well as assistant to Reihard Fabisch during the Dream Team era.

Madinda Ndlovu is probably the most under-rated Bosso coach. Shakes had an unbelievable eye for talent. He was an inspirational coach who dug out for Thulani Ncube, Bekithemba Ndlovu, Siza Khoza, Gift Lunga Jnr, Amon Chimbalanga, Thabani Mqwayi Masawi, Noel Kaseke and so on. He sacrificed his reputation and job trying to bring youngsters to the fore.

Temperamental as he was, he gave the small boys the belief in themselves and they grew up to be a force. Many people still do not believe in his work, but he was great for the team. 

Madinda played a prominent role for the team as a winger and scorer of many goals and he played football in Germany. He coached in Botswana as well as Black Mambas of Harare.

The late Willard Mashinkila Khumalo will always remind me of Madinda in some ways. They both had a way to work with players at training. They had incredibly exciting drills that got the boys working. I think the players felt intimidated by the status and class of these geniuses. Who could not have been?

While their personalities were worlds apart, they were both an unlucky pair. They did not get results when they needed them. As usual, fans were never patient enough to see the growth of their teams. Widzo played for many teams like Caps United and Lancashire Steel and coached Mwana Africa among other teams. He had several coaching jobs in Botswana too.

Rahman Gumbo was the most successful coach for Bosso. When Madinda Ndlovu was relieved of his duties, the young boys were down and out. They were young and feeling bad because of the press and fans. Not winning is one thing, but if the fans are not helping, it is a death knell to the fragile minds of young footballers.

Rush took their broken hearts to his advantage. He gave them direct challenges with the exceptional motivation he had probably leant overseas as a layer and working with both Barretto and Fabisch. That worked wonders for the young boys.

It was during the days that Siza Khoza was hottest, Zenzo Zemura Moyo was a prolific goal scorer, Alexander Phiri a midfield workhorse, Blessing Gumiso a dominating force, Thulani Biya Ncube the perfect specimen of a footballer, Johannes Tshisa Ngodzo shoe shine pianist, Tapuwa
Kapini flamboyant goalkeeper, Melody Wafawanaka the fortress and Eddie Dube the darling of the crowd.

The boys always ran like there was no tomorrow. The Stadium was always full to the bream and the mood was on such a drug high. Rush coach the team to be a source of the reason to live for so many fans. 

People started composing songs and remixing in a way never known before.You will remember the Gwindi song, the ‘Cry Mantengwane’ and ‘Babebulalo’ Baba’. This for me was the most successful and most successful part. 

The dent here was the Sable de Batie and Young African Africa Champions’ League
games. That was too bad.

Eddie May is regarded by many as the main man, a true expatriate and professional. He took Rahman Gumbo’s team with its momentum. He was very fortunate to have Ernest Maphepha by his side. The late Eddie was a little negative when he started, being too defensive. 

One of his first few matches, he played at home against Dynamos and I was doing a live
TV commentary analysis on the game. He played with five defenders who battled to contain Norman Maroto. Bosso lost that match with Maroto scoring. 

Things improved very much from that time on. At one point, he played six strikers in a match. In the days of Eddie Nyika and later, Adam Ndlovu and Stuart Murisa, the team won the championship with a 20-point gap. 

The young players like Honour Gombami and Johannes Ngodzo pushed their game a notch higher and flourished. Bosso became rolling stone, winning championships at will. Technically speaking, Eddie was good enough to keep the status quo Rahman had left. He was one of the best.

("Sathathu Eddie Dube, sathathu Eddie Nyika, Highlander, iteam yezwe lonke. Sathathu Eddie May, kuselu Edie Murphy, Highlander .....")

When it comes down the line, there were others like Dick Chama. He was an ordinary passionate coach. He really did not impact much in the success of the team, probably because of the challenge of living up to the predecessors. He remained a professional who worked hard for the team.

Methembe Ndlovu brought a different style of play and went for about half a season without a loss. Mayor won the league championship with about six matches remaining. His system revolved to be rigid and unexciting.

There was no patience with the management and fans for him to do different things to turn the fortunes of the team around.

In a long history of other coaches, there is Bobby Clark of the Bobby circuit that we covered on the blog previously, as well as Bill Asbury. Others like Lawrence Phiri played vital roles that
combined with being team managers as well.

In later years, Highlanders hired Mohammed Fathi of Egypt. Fathi was assisted by Mkhuphali Masuku, a former club midfielder who also played for Amazulu. Fathi coache at the worst ossible economic era for the country and team and had success to write home about.

Mr Cooper also tried his best with Bekithemba Ndlovu and made a reasonable impact under tough conditions. 

Bongani Mafu coached Highlanders FC for just under a season,but was very unlucky to get the desired results. Mafu came in with a lot of exprience from Europe and some claim his coaching methods were too complicated for the boys and therefore did not benefit the team much.

His previous coaching experience with Zimbabwe Saints, had proved his capability as a very smart and clever coach. Bongani had coaching stincts in Botswana before and after leaving Highlanders and he also worked with Sunday Chidzambwa as a COSAFA team assistant in the 2017 South Africa COSAFA Cup.

As for me, many people do not have a clue who I am or was. I was never the coach. I was just a Technical Advisor, to Rahman Gumbo.

The question as to who was the greatest, will always hinge on where you were at that time. Some were the best, others lucky and few successful. Of course for me, least known.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Highlanders Bosso - The Great Strikers

No better class - Adam (RIP), Madinda and Peter 
Recently, I heard about strikers who scored goals as if it was about to become illegal, and I thought, nothing describes Adam Ndlovu better, especially during the season he left to Switzerland or Zenzo Moyo before he went to Cyprus.

Usually, people would say that players scored like it is going out of fashion, then you think of Barry Daka, Cavin Dubley, Tymon Mabaleka, Mark Watson, Majuta Mpofu, Chris Mhlanga, Edward Dzowa, Itai Chieza, Ray Makhanda and Doubt Sithole among a host of others who played in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Among the later generations, Mulenga Chewe, Collins Nyamiya, Thabani Masawi, Cyprian Kanyemba, Lewis Mangezha Kutinyu and Austin Juwayiyeyi are still fresh memories to the many fans who filled the stadia to witness true seduction in football terms. Chewe played for Railstars together with Nyambiya before crossing the floor to Bosso. Their work rate was among the best seen during their time.   

The talented Ralph Matema and Obadiah Tarumbwa were a new generation of firebrand strikers who scored at will. Matema played a key role for the Bossolona era where he was referred to as Ralphto'o, for his Samuel Eto'o class. It was a time when the Cameroonian freely scored for Barcelona in La Liga and Europe. 

Madinda Ndlovu became a feared striker because of his everything. His name became as much of a brand name as Bosso itself. His pace, dribbling, shooting, scoring and the crossing were amazing.

He had the shear arrogance of someone doing the business he knows, and he knew that he knew his business and wanted the world to know that. Names like ‘Juluka’ (the flowing one) or ‘Khathazile’ (the troublemaker) give you an idea.

An old-fashioned winger, an envy of many coaches at the time, he stayed on the wing and dribbled his way through at high speed. He would play on either wing, preferring the right to the left and packing canon shots with either foot.

Adam Ndlovu had indescribable finishing ability. His art of scoring was something one cannot coach. ‘Adamski’ became top-goal scorer several times scoring goals you may never see in your life. He perfected the art. ‘Mirro’’s lethal finish combined power and brains. He manipulated defenders and beat them either on mind games or by physical strength. He was a typical Number 9.

Peter Ndlovu needs no introduction as even the opposition would stand and cheer at the sheer artistry, pace, body swerve, dribble and scoring ability. ‘Nsukuzonke’ was so nimble-footed with amazing take-off pace as if he was blown by the wind.

For his age when he first came in, he had the courage to take on a lion. Peter went on to have a very long blessed career in England. He started at Coventry City, his debut goal came against David Seamen, then Arsenal and England goalkeeper.

He went on to play for Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday. Owing to his speed with and without the ball, he was nicknamed the ‘Bulawayo Bullet’ by some and the ‘Flying Elephant’.

Among his many tremendously great goal collection that included a ‘twist and turns’ and a rifled cracker at Barbourfields Stadium when on a national under-23 team against Tunisia, he scored a once in a life time double shuffled near-post placement on the left against South Africa at the National Sports Stadium in that 4-0 drubbing.

The diminutive and combative Nhamo Shambira was such a clever player of silent assassin qualities. He made big boys like my friend Misheck Marimo look lost. His heading prowess was envy to many. His predatory instincts were amazing. He scored some of the most valuable goals in the club's history, especially cup finals. 

Many will remember the Cup final at Barbourfields Stadium when he headed in a goal with about 15 minutes of play left, a ball from a free kick to destroy Dynamos. 

Morgan Phiri was one speedy winger of great take-off and dribbling ability. ‘Mdududu’ was a proper version of a 1000 cc motorbike. People would say the man was faster than the ball, but he was a marvel to watch on the left.

Dumisani Ngulube was another goal poacher, such a fine finisher and great goalkeepers like the late John Sibanda and Japheth Mparutsa could tell of his aggression. ‘Tshimbitshimbi’ scored many vital goals. He was a Spenser for hire for sure.

There was Nkululeko Chunky Dlodlo who was a crucial striker, who was aggressive and arrogant. He was a goal scorer of note and later playing for the First Division championship winning Railstars. Thulani Nxumalo was mercurial and stunning. He proved to be clever and scored a few cheeky goals.

Tanny Banda was something we will never see again. His feet were literally magnetic and fast. His
speed and dribbling were an unbelievable combination that no other player had.

‘Tanny is a Banda’ was one you could bet on dribbling the entire team. People said he dribbled everyone including both linesmen and the referee on his way to scoring. There are no words invented yet that can describe the talent we are talking about.

Maxmillion Ndlovu would beat anyone without trouble. ‘Boy’ toasted and roasted defenders like there was no tomorrow. With his run of short little steps, his acceleration towards goal was not always amazing as when he ran at a defender and started doing his business.

He would isolate himself at the centre line and touch line corners waiting to pounce. More often than not, many forgot he existed and the stadium would erupt into cheer as soon as he was on flight. He set up many goals. Again, one has to re-invent the English language or even some African words to put a correct picture of what this man was capable of.

Tobias Mudyambanje is a player engraved in the hearts of supporters for many good reasons. He was a pure goal machine. He was a clever and deceptive forward who scored beautiful and precious goals with his head, especially in Cup competitions.

Jerry Sibanda joined Highlanders from Gwanda Ramblers. He was very strong and speedy. He had
courage and a great eye for goal. He was a welfare team manager until recently.

Thamsanqa Tambo was a stocky and hot acquisition from Ziscosteel. ‘Kabila’ screened and protected the ball well and scored many wonderful and thunderous goals.

In Makwinji Soma-Phiri, you will not get a better header of the ball anywhere. He timed his runs perfectly, and he would out jump any defender. His technique was to jump early and high. It would seem he stayed in the air until the ball came.

Abraham Madondo was such an influential attacker and great crosser of the ball. He played on either wing and had such passion for the game. He packed powerful and accurate shots with either foot. He was one of the few players to have played for Dynamos and Highlanders.

Cyprian Kanyemba was a very speedy right-winger who played flowing football. He was superb when on flight going for goal. Cypie had a lot of fun when playing and enjoyed his football in a way that was visible to the fans in the stands.

Gift Lunga Senior was an accomplished finisher. He spent his earlier years deputising the Ndlovu brothers and became known as a ‘Super-sub’. He turned, twisted, and shot very well. His many goals put Bosso on a high-level platform for many years.

Austin Juwayiyeyi joined Bosso from Fire Batteries of Harare. He dribbled very well and scored fantastic goals. He was a live wire type of player who made things happen out of nothing. He fried his opponents very well.

Lewis Kutinyu was another fantastic player who could work on either wing without trouble. His ball control and appetite for a goal were great. Kutinyu was unfortunate as he attracted many rough tackles from the defenders he harassed.

Darlington Phiri played for Black Rhinos, Amazulu and Railstars and did not really gel with the team.

Eugene Langa also came in and did not live up to expectation. He was a fine player at Zimbabwe Saints.

Zenzo Moyo will be the best striker ever for so many people. Strong, arrogant and determined, he had
passion to do well all the time and scored many beautiful goals.

‘Zemura’ cried for losing small-sided games played at camp amongst teammates. That is how much winning it for Bosso meant to ‘Zemura’.

Thabani Masawi dribbled with his easy and lazy looking style that astounded everyone. Sis T’s fragile appearance did not match the strike of his shots and a high number of goals he scored.

As for the quality of those goals, you will not see anything better anytime soon. ‘Mqwayi’ combined so well with ‘Zemura – Zandl’ ezibomvu’.

Joel Luphahla complemented Zemura well before he left for Cyprus. Luphahla’s pace was incredible. His goals were fewer than the assists he supplied to his fellow strikers as he squared the ball well with his cutbacks.

Both Zenzo and Joel plied their trade in Cyprus for a long time and Luphahla winded up his career at Platinum Stars before his short comeback at Bosso.

Sawusto Phiri was excellent. His tactical awareness was top-drawer stuff and his finishing just as exquisite. ‘Special Meat’ would deliver day in and day out with his tremendous speed towards goal.

Stuart Murisa was one gem of a striker having a great telepathic relationship with ‘Adamski’. ‘Shutto's game showed the maturity of a player who was very serious. He scored great goals and made football look so easy.

Dube and Nyika were the two Eddies Highlanders would never forget. The attacking and penetrating force of the duo was so heart stopping that they were a pair defenders had nightmares about.

Eddie Nyika overcooked his tricks sometimes, but when they worked, it sent the electricity down your spine.Eddie Dube was a bulldozing and stubborn workhorse that could do everything but shoot.

Eddie Dube's shooting was terrible but improved with time. He scored one of the best goals seen at Luveve Stadium.

Mandla Balanda tickled me with his game, like his brother Clement. They caressed the ball with their feet. Mandla’s trickery included a backflip over the defenders’ heads and controlling the ball on the other side, fry his man and accelerate, wait for the defender and push the ball through his legs before sending him to the shops.

Clement had opponents showing him their shirt number, run over the ball and going in one direction and coming back to kind of polish the leather sphere. He would scoop the ball up and the bamboozled defenders would hold the ball by their hands. There are no words to describe what they could do. For Mandla, the misfortune with scoring made his career at Bosso shorter than it should have been.

Zambian machine called Kelvin Kaindu came in as an exciting winger who took on defenders at will and scored great goals. This boy was amazing. Kelvin had an unfortunate Highlanders career littered by injuries. He returned to Bosso as a coach.

Tapela Ngwenya was a hard running player who scored many goals. His football was simple and straightforward. Cyclone thrived on through balls and his finishing would not complement his efforts sometimes.

Other fantastic and pacey strikers like Thabani ‘B-Car’ Moyo who was an explosive striker with high pace. His close ball control at that high pace was incredulous.

Wayne Albertyn was himself a maestro of the game. He enjoyed his game very much and was superb with the ball. They both left for overseas before they could set the town alight but their contribution was immense.

Most of the beautiful goals witnessed by the Highlanders fans never fade away for the sheer quality. Some were pure cannons shelled from long distances while others were genuine touches of class and magic.

Supporting these brave men who faced rough tackles from the likes of Size Torindo, Sunday Marimo, Simon Mugabe, Misheck Sibanda, Stonshed Moyo, Benedict Moyo and Ephraim Chawanda, was the minimum fans could do.

The whistles and breaking into song and cheering the team attack after attack propelled the team to greater heights with each outing. 

Even on dark days, people came back the following week knowing that the boys would not let them down, and they delivered.

Do you remember the days zokhwelo??? Hayi suka mani!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Highlanders versus Dynamos red card - too much farce about nothing

(Highlanders and Dynamos rivalry that never ends)
We live in very interesting times with all the unfortunate situations popping up from various sources with unclear intentions but obvious consequences.

To start with, football is a game played under a set of laws and unlike other sports who have rules. And there is a difference between laws and rules.

It must be noted that football is run by the custodians of the game in any given territory, and as an association sport, members who play it, do form that association as they associated.

Those who associated, participate in a league in which they have rules and regulations governing that particular competition. The referee enforces the law at all times and his decisions are final. It is always about his own opinion.

Highlanders and Dynamos played a 1-1 draw over the weekend in a match where one Dynamos player was dismissed (red-carded) for dangerous play. Here we will only use football language. 

Highlanders, like Dynamos, play football under the auspices of association football and are members of Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), but playing in the competition sanctioned by ZIFA, called the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League (ZPSL).

ZIFA and ZPSL have competitions and these competitions have the rules governing them and are clear to both parties. Of course, somewhere along the way ther is either a fol, a clown or a vicitm.

One must note that the associations of each territory come together as equal members of an international body called FIFA. FIFA has a special body governing the laws of the game, the IFAB (International Football Association Board).

According to IFAB, only special members can make special decisions outside the field of play. Otherwise, the referee's decisions are final at all times.

This is the reason why the English Premier League can look at the incidents on video and make decisions according. That special dispensation is not common to all members.

One reason for its acceptance in England and possibly a few more members now is that technology available leaves no doubt about anything, as there are multiple cameras to view the same incident.

All said and done, there are always impartial committees to review each incident weekly. These uninterested parties are experts in what they do, in terms of laws and technology.

In the matter at hand, Zimbabwe Referees Committee (ZRC) chairman happens to be the Zimbabwe Football Association chairperson, Philip Chiyangwa. He is a known Dynamos sympathiser.

The question arises as to why he got involved in a Zimbabwe Premier League matter, as the competition is not a ZIFA baby?

ZIFA cannot find themselves handling an appeal from any team for a competition they do not run unless the case has been escalated to that level. To nullify the red card shown to Dynamos striker Christian Epoupa Ntouba on Sunday at Rufaro Stadium shows some form of football illiteracy.

There are few red lights here, given that ZIFA had decided to overrule referee Arnold Ncube's decision without giving reasons and that Dynamos Richard Chihoro said that they had not appealed at all.

Whether it was a Chiyangwa or ZIFA decision, it is a mad decision. Either way, it must be sought to clarify under what condition and auspices such decision was made, like the members present and their capacities.

It must be noted that whether that seating had video analysis and made their decisions made by their opinions of the incident, their opinion does not matter. How many times do people view the same thing for years and fail to agree on the right outcome?

If the referees made the wrong decisions, such committees must not reverse the decisions but either train their personnel or punish the perpetrators. And in any case, there is not a single qualification Chiyangwa holds to sit on that committee.

At some stage, I think this is a nuisance of an incident to receive attention and it can never happen. There are no grounds to implement such a decision.

Dynamos will have to play their next match against Caps United, and if they use the same player, will the ZPSL accept the Cameroonian player in their team sheets? I do not think so. Let us say that the match goes on, and Dynamos use that player, ZPSL can simply dock the points as it is their competition, not ZIFA's competition.

Regarding the ZPSL, there seems to have been no letter or appeal made to them about their own competition, meaning that as far as they are concerned, the noise about this issue is a lot of farce about nothing.

Ncube surely made a report to the owners of the competition. Unless he handed a different story, then the ZPSL have some work to do. For now, they must stay put as they have clear rules and guidelines regarding such matters.

It has been brought to our attention, that the Order 30 of the PSL Rules and Regulations is as follows:

30.1 Any club involved in a match, may lodge a protest with the League in respect of any match played under the auspices of the League provided that: A written protest accompanied by a protest fee of US$1000 (One thousand dollars) is lodged with the General Secretariat of the League within 48 hours (forty-eight) hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays) of the game and The written protest referred to in order 30.1 above sets out the full facts on which it is based and refers to the Article and/or rule and regulation allegedly contravened by the offending party; and The protest is not made against the referee’s and/or assistant referee’s decision connected with play, such decisions being final.

Do you think there is anything that Highlanders should worry about? Let us know.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Highlanders Bosso memories: The Midfield Generals

(Willard Khumalo, Madinda Ndlovu and Mercedes Sibanda)
Football players of raw passion and desire to entertain while having fun came naturally in the 1980s and 1990s. Among the many gifted players who became actors of the great Highlanders Football Club over that period of time was Willard Mashinkila Khumalo (MHSRIP), famous then for galloping while in possession of the ball, to the roar of the responsive Stadium.

This midfield general of immense talent, passion and attitude, ‘Nduna’’ as he was popularly known,  had a physical presence, dribbling, passing and vision made him a darling to watch.

 Many will remember the stadium roaring ‘Mawiii’ or simply, "Wiiiiiiii" with his every touch of the ball. He intercepted the balls in midfield intelligently, supporting other players off the ball and above all, had the great passing ability over short, medium and long distances.

Nduna’s football was compelling at the club and national level and remained a cog to the teams he played for which included Caps United. Willard was the king pin of the Reinhard Fabisch's Dream Team of the 1990s. He went to ply his trade in Germany as well.

Many young Highlanders FC supporters may not know Lazarus Mwambopo. ‘Lulu’, started running as he came out of the tunnel for warm-up and never stopped. He ran in a particular fashion, his hands kind of hanging loosely from the wrists.

He tirelessly toiled all day. His great vision and weighted passing were a joy to behold. Lulu played for Eagles FC with Victor Moonsamy and Elvis Chiweshe among others. The industry of this man's input in each shift could never be equalled.

Ernest ‘Maphepha’ Sibanda was slim as a paper, hence his nickname. This speedy winger flew making the 'Chew' noise with his mouth as he charged. Sibanda played for Caps United in a distinguished career and later became the team manager of the very successful Bossolona and eventually Chairman. The man had good control of midfield control and imposed his style of play with ease.

Nqobizitha Maenzanise (MHSRIP) is another of the great midfielders of his generation and beyond. As stubborn as a donkey on the road, he marshalled the midfield at will. He had invaluable technique, killing any ball dead in an instant and passing with amazing accuracy with the inside or outside of the foot. His vision left you wondering if he really saw the development prior.

‘Humpty’ tended to have lazy runs with his bow legs and his arrogance got him a few red-cards during his career. He never really celebrated a goal as he just took it as a pass to the net. One cannot remember him losing the ball once it was at his feet and he released it only when he wanted, and very accurately so. 

He was a useful player at Zimbabwe Saints, Matebeleland High City and he captained the national team. One thing few people knew about him, was his great humility. I had great pleasure taking him through coaching courses and was always amazed how so humble and willing to learn he was. He worked as a court interpreter.

In the same mould of build and technique was Makheyi Nyathi (MHSRIP). I have never seen a better ball passer. His control of the ball was magnificent. ‘Ninja’ played first team football at a very tender
age. He was very good at anticipating and intelligently intercepting balls timely without a hassle. He was a hard tackler who enjoyed his game. 

Makheyi scored some amazing long-range goals regularly. He was such a great magician who made his first team and national squad debuts aged sixteen. This player can be described as a true general of the game and an icon. He suffered knee injuries that cut his career shorter than it should have been.

Another tireless worker and exquisite passer was Aram Tshuma (MHSRIP). He had played a lot of first division football with Red Seal Rovers before joining Bosso. What a revelation he was. 

Aram passed the ball early with great quality and silently went about his business in attack and defence. He was a goal scorer of note, especially from distance.

Richard Choruma joined ‘Amahlolanyama’ looking lazy and many fans did not believe that he was going to be a revelation he became. His small frame fooled many opponents. Choruma worked hard in midfield winning balls, developing into one of the finest players.

Choruma played alongside Benjani Mwaruwari at Air Zimbabwe and his move to South Africa was not as successful. The Dabuka Express was an intelligent player with a great engine and a professional every coach dreamed of. 

Alexander Phiri was a high calibre player and a scorer of thunderous goals that would make Paul Scholes jealous. Zander always looked to play the ball forward early and accurately and worked extremely hard all the time. His goals will always feature as some of the best seen at Bosso. He played alongside Blessing Gumiso who was a pivotal figure in midfield himself.

Gumiso was a strong anchor-man who worked hard for the team. As a workhorse protecting the defenders, Magumaguma was tireless and very decisive in tackles and man-marking. He was very dependable in one versus one situation and scored some good and important goals. His contribution released other exciting attacking midfielders to venture forward in enterprising fashion. 

Siza Khoza was one untouchable swift player. As soon as he was on the run with the ball at his feet he flew off his feet. Nkinko was extravagant sometimes, keepingh the ball with him for too long but when he got his way, it was ever so sweet. 

The ball stuck to his feet as if glued. It was his not so generous frame that made him rank last in national team selection. At Caps United, his artistry did not live up to his reputation. Siza ran from midfield to the flanks and also attacked the central positions with great purpose and direction. He was a defender's nightmare. He scored vital goals for the team.

Gift Lunga Jnr operated as a left-winger. His tremendous dribbling ability took many by surprise, including himself I think. ‘Thebe’ had wits to do anything. His flowing movement when in full flight on the left wing, the dread-locked Thebe reminded many of Jay Jay Okocha. He was purely exquisite and sublime. The Bosso faithful will have memories of the great and crucial goals he scored.

Who can forget the late Thuthani Moyo, a player who used both feet to dribble with amazing ability? He knew of his gift and he pushed the limits. He also had a deceptive lazy dribble, which made drilling the ball through opponents’ legs look casual. One could mistakenly think he used his hands to manipulate the ball. That is how clever his feet were.

Mpumelelo 'Era Munna' Dzowa and the late Ronnie 'Jeans' Jowa came across as genuine midfield commanders who people confused for each other because of the surnames which rhymed. Mpume took control of the game with great vision and passing that mesmerised opponents. He later developed to be a key member of the Green Machine, Caps United.

These players were a team that was very talented, having matured earlier from a reserve team of the mid-1980s named 'Liverpool'. 

Many will remember high-quality technician, Thoko Sithole, who was nimble-footed. He was a darling to many and proved to be a midfielder of immense talent.

The fluid Benjamin ‘Matambanadzo’ Mpofu came from Kadoma's Eiffel Flats and endeared into the Bosso fans with a workmanlike shift match after match with great incisive runs going forward. He had the courage to carry the ball across the field and into the attacking third.

One not so popular, yet vital midfield of good defensive qualities was Harrison ‘Ayashis' Amateki’ Meki. Ayashis' Amateki was loved by his teammates for his ability to make their jobs on the field easier.

Amin Soma-Phiri was such a lovely character. ‘Khazeni’ had a spirit to move mountains. Like his brother Makwinji, his greatest asset was the head. Amin must have scored more Cup goals than any Bosso player, mostly with his head.

The bow-legged strong man of soccer was a forceful and committed player who disliked losing. The fighting spirit rubbed well into those around him and he always imposed himself on every defence.

The late Titus Majola was simply class and very intelligent. Simply the best. ‘Zii’ was unbelievably flamboyant and knew where to be every time. His strength was the simplicity of play. He made football look very very easy. He played along the charismatic players like Alex Maseko, Fanual Ncube, Douglas Mloyi and Peter Nkomo, among others.

Tito Paketh, a brother to Francis Paketh of Eagles was a talented dribbling wizard with nimble feet. Tito scored amazing goals and mostly from distance. The strong midfielder had great vision and mouth-watering passing ability. He left playing alongside his brother Francis, at Eagles and joined Amahlolanyama. He was a great player who enjoyed his game and all at Tshilamoya enjoyed watching him.

David Phiri brought to the game excellent passing and ball control in the midfield. His strong attitude to the art made him look comfortable and relaxed. His goals were marvellous. Dave proved to be a consistent midfielder with the ability to deliver every time he played.

Many know Andrew Shue as a Hollywood actor of the soapie, Melrose Place. He played football for Highlanders and was a such a genius. He was not fancy at all but did the necessary with simple football. 

I remember an unfortunate game in Harare where he gave away a silly goal in a Cup final or something. He felt gutted and found it hard to deal with the mishap. 

Another American, Kelly 'Sharp Mafana' Jacobson played further in front as an attacking midfielder and his passing always astounded the supporters. He scored few important goals.

Dowd had the chilling accurate forward passes with the correct weight and direction. It made up for the poor defensive behaviour, which was his weaknesses. He had off days that could annoy fans but played a key role in most of the matches he played that the fans named him Dube.

Lovemore Ncube was a temperamental character who fought too hard and hated to lose. ‘Magents’ was a vital engine room cog who always played a kingpin role. He was a terminator kind of player. The ball winning ability gave the much-needed steel in his game which many took for rough play.

Magents always played hard and took no prisoners with each tackle making a statement. Lovemore went to play successfully for Dynamos, before leaving for overseas.

Rahman Gumbo was an influential midfielder despite him starting a striker at Eagles where he scored goals with the ease of Ian Rush. ‘Rah’ was very clever and consistent as a Number 9 and as a midfielder. Injuries were unjust to him resulting in his retirement. Rush played a pivotable role for the Dream Team and later developed to be a great coach.

In all his first and second level courses that I conducted, he remained humble and inspired his classmates in the courses. He proved to be a winner as he won championships with Bosso, Caps, as well as Malawians and Botswana teams. Many will remember with fondness the great goals he scored against South Africa upon Mzansi's readmission to international football in 1992 and that goal against Goh Mahiaat Emagumeni.

Benjamin Nkonjera was a destroyer in midfield who always was serious. Probably the finest midfielder ever‘Mackanaky’ had good man-marking skills, interception ability of unsurpassed proportions and passing that would rank amongst the best you ever saw.

Benjie was a cog for Bosso and national teams for many years and had a huge impact on successes of the Dream Team. He scored tremendous goals and finished his career at Amazulu after a fruitful stint at FC Kriens of Switzerland.

Mubariki Chisoni was a true version of dynamite comes in small packages' player. ‘Mwamba’ seemed just too slippery for the opposition. He seemed to have it very easy all the time. For a midfielder of his stature, he was a class act who scored beautiful and important goals. He had great ball control and was very courageous.

Methembe Ndlovu played comfortably in defence as he did in midfield. ‘Mayor’, as a holding player was a darling of the BF crowd, intercepting the ball at alarming rates. One would think he attracted the ball to his feet.

He was so dependable and committed in everything he did, becoming one of the best players in 1995 Under 23All-Africa Games in the squad who won silver medals

His ball distribution was one of his strengths.Mayor’s football took him to the United State of America where he attained high coaching qualifications. He became one of the most successful Bosso coaches.

Honour Gombami is one living artisan of football with immense talent. He graduated soon after Johannes'Tshisampama' Ngodzo but they did play together very well. Honour had a silky touch to blow your mind.

Gombami’s vision and passing incredibly opened defence like a hot knife through butter. His work-rate was really an asset to the squad and he dished his stuff week in and week out.

He went on to play professionally in Belgium but injuries dealt with him treacherously and stalled a growing career.

Another fine specimen of a footballer must be Ngodzo himself.Tshisa dribbled as if he was romancing the ball with his feet. He is one footballer you will come across once in a lifetime. He was a gem of a player with a true Midas touch.His enviable technical ability almost made the ball talk.He ran with the ball, dragging it behind him as if it was
glued to his heels and his long range passing.

He dribbled for fun and made all look easy in the field of play. Injuries were unfair to his and he did play for the national team.

Charles Chilufya was hard shooting and generally a workaholic of a Zambian. ‘Chief’ scored memorable goals. He worked for the ball and was quick to go forward.Chilufya came from city rivals, Railstars, who had acquired him from Wankie Football Club. Tthe combination with Choruma was telepathic.

Master Masiku was one of the most under-rated players ever, with a very big engine and love for the game. An easy midfielder to coach with total commitment, he was a good ball winner and scored some amazing but few goals. He was always committed to his game and played a pivotal role at Railstars.His finishing did not compliment his efforts. 

His boyhood friend, Kelvin ‘Mtshawa’ Maseko had a better work rate. Mtshawa had long strides and a tremendous engine to run all noon. His passing and shooting were high class.

He did not stay long at Highlanders, moving to be a force to be reckoned with at Railstars F.C.To the so many others who made the Highlanders family feel worthwhile, there can never be enough thank yous.

All the midfield generals intrigued the BarbourfieldsStadium with the intricate and quick passing that electrified the vibrant and chanting faithful at the Soweto, Edgars and Mpankweni stands.They packed powerful shots and scored thunderous goals that won the trophies and championships. They
supplied the sublime through balls to the strikers and thrilled everyone with the dribbles and trickery.

Who was your top Midfield General?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Arsene Wenger will reign very soon

In our last look at the English Premier League, we looked at the blind faith of the Manchester United fans that they are already champions. Three matches on, they amassed 9 out of 9 points, scoring 10 goals in the process. Maybe they have a case.

Chelsea fans, like those elsewhere in AC Milan, F.C Porto and Real Madrid, know when it is time to celebrate when Jose Mourinho is in the house. So the Red Devils can really be forgiven to celebrate this early.

My take is this; All the teams and coaches always revered and feared a JM coached. They feel intimated and inferior. The Man U performance thus far makes all their opponents afraid, and very afraid. This makes United's job half complete.

There is a Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rushford factor. Martial is an evergreen thread and De Gea is solid. If one tries to look at the possible loopholes in that team, it may take you a season to find one. Team spirit and teamwork are matched by a complete and satisfying work ethic from everyone. I feel Ibrahimovic will come in to give more stability to the coach's attacking options.

We predicted a good performance from Arsenal and then a revolt from the Gunners fans. However, we did not anticipate these events to be so close to each other and to come so soon. Arsene Wenger did not convince many in that English Premier League season opener against Leicester City. 

The match was easy on the eye by devoid of tactical maturity and class. We were skeptical in joining the celebration party after that match. The latest demolition job by Liverpool proved us right in saying that Arsenal has very good players but the worst ever team in the league.

The players' body language was the easiest book to read. Wenger can not do anything positive to that team at all. High profile players like Mezuit Ozil looked mentally broken. The rest were extremely fragile. Alexis Sanchez, who wanted out did not look the part. Actually, Arsenal should have let him go.

No one can question Arsene's football brain and his stubbornness, but we still believe in miracles and that the man still has a little pride, no matter how small. If we are right, the man will resign next week. And in that case, a strong coach with a high reputation will come and transform dressing room mentality and attitude and maximise that team's potential.

Let assume we are wrong and the Frenchman stays on, what then can save the Gunners? Simple. Sell the entire squad and get young, cheap, naive and easy to manipulate professional who can 'yes Sir' Wenger. Otherwise, Arsenal will be in the relegation battle for the majority of the season.

This story has a flip side. A disappointing Liverpool pulled out a shocker in walloping a hapless Arsenal and suddenly, Jurgen Klopp seems to be the man. Our prediction was that the Reds are a spent force who did not need Coutinho now. 

With Barcelona throwing cash like confetti at Liverpool, the Merseyside giants should gladly cash in and bank the money. There is not much need to get into the market for them now. Their followers think there is a need for a centre back and central anchoring midfielder. We have not analysised or seem possible candidates for that matter, so it is a question of the German's taste and so far, we are failing to enter his taste buds.

May we temporarily apologise our questioning of the longevity of his gengen pressing in this season. There is a temptation to say Arsenal were naive in any case, but giving credit where it is due, many duels were won in high pressing areas leading to the goals. 

If we take a microscopic look, we would say it is early days. The good thing is that the Sedio Mane instincts look intact as this moment and all hope that his injuries will be minimum. Daniel Sturridge needs to be mentioned as he did what he usually does when he comes in from the bench. And again, he needs a much more injury free season than anyone in the world's five top leagues.

As one of the greatest symphasisers of Tottenham Hotspur, there was not a single attempt to give an excuse for the use of Wembley Stadium. Maybe we should have. White Hart Lane always presented a thread even before the match started. At the current rate, as opposed to the intimidation of the current Manchester United bullishness, Spurs are vulnerable to every Jack and Jill. All teams feel they have a chance against them at Wembley. 

Mauricio Poccetthino's boys will be feeling tired soon if the results do not come early enough. We mentioned one serious factor for them on day one. As long as Harry Kane is not finding the net, his frustration will work against the team and his confidence. Delle Ali also needs to have his game a notch up when Kane is firing blanks.

There is no doubt that in Moussa Dembele and Victor Wanyama, they have one of the strongest central midfielders in the world today, but without the crazy scampering on the wings of Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, the load will remain against them after the completion of each swing attack.

Let us see what Manchester City brought to the table so far. I see a better team than last season, but definitely, nothing to make us think they are better than Chelsea and United. Even with their target, Alexis Sanchez, it would be hard to see how the set-up could influence the title in their favour. 

Rumour has it that they intended offloading Jesus Navas and a few other players to the Gunners for the South American. Theoretically, the possible combination with Sergio Aguero should be hair-raising but Pep Guardiola can mess up a good stew and turn it into biter medicine at the click of a finger. City is a team that has already hit the ceiling. They may reinvent themselves and get rejuvenated but there is not much excitement in that squad.

Finally, as Chelsea strolled through the park, they picked up easy points. Could it be that all teams will jst bend over for a spanking? Maybe there is so much respect for Antonio Conte, but that easy win versus Everton worked for and against them. The good thing was that they picked up points without hitting top gear, basically on a rest day.

The negative aspect of that situation is a loss of top match fitness. Managing that situation going forward will be critical as to how long The Blues catch up the rest of the league in match fitness. At the beginning of the season, one prefers being stretched to the limit and prevail, and that momentum carries you in buoyant and quiet times in the season. 

We are tempted to make more predictions based on tactical analysis of what transpired so far. Indicators prove that our first article on the matter was over 80 % correct up to Match 3. The league may still welcome few great names of the game from other major leagues, and that may change a lot, but frankly, we see no major changes.

Paul Pogba, Marcus Rushford, Martial, Mane, Cesc Fabregas, Ali, Kane, Aguero will determine the destination of the league. 

At the bottom, new boys will kiss the league goodbye.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Highlanders Tshilamoya - The Great Defenders

(The late Mercedes Sibanda with the late Willard Mashinkila Khumalo)
Complementing the charismatic goal-minders of yester year, were the Highlanders central defenders known to have been solid, hard, tough and imposing. 

Douglas Mloyi was a vocal and agile figure who imposed his presence without any silliness, a clean take-no prisoner tough as a teak tackler.

Despite his perceived rough play, ‘British’ never received a red card in his long and distinguished career at Bosso and the national team. He was such a marvelous player and a great humble man who still attracts positive vibes from young and old fans alike. 

Alex ‘Zanda’ Maseko was a fortress and specialist of aerial superiority and master of interception. Indeed the ‘Cool Ruler’ was a great tight marker and sweeper of high pedigree with strength, confidence and sure-footedness.

He played for the national team alongside John Phiri in a formidable partnership. He started playing a traditional Number 10 position and ended his football in South Africa where he played for a number of teams including Mamelodi Sundowns. He briefly played for Darryn T in 1988 before coming back to Bosso.

Cleopas Dlodlo’s services are tattooed in the Bosso faithful owing to his elastic agility. Nkatha, as he was called by myriads of fans, had the speed of thought and presence of mind, tracking and tackling well and hard. 

Dilo Dilo had an excellent sense of humour and his move to Kaizer Chiefs was a fitting tribute to the class of a man whose charisma should have flourished at Amakhosi. He played alongside Doctor Khumalo, Robson Mtshitshwa at Naturena. Dlodlo also featured for Moroka Swallows, the Dube Birds.

Thulani Ncube was the most incredible character. ‘Captain Fantastic’ was both very combative and calculative. He marked tight and timed his tackles to perfection. ‘Biya’ initiated attacks, surged forward after winning the ball and scored some amazing goals.

The most important quality he possessed was leadership. He is the only man ever I know in the whole world, who captained three different teams at once, i.e. Highlanders, National Under-23 squad and Zimbabwe Warriors. He played for Cape Town Spurs before going overseas where he is coaching the youth. Biya runs an academy with his firends in Zimbabwe.

Melody Wafawanaka was stocky, playing in the same eccentric way Dlodlo, Mloyi and Zanda did. ‘Nkalakatha’ took no prisoners. He was agile and headed the ball very well. He formed a solid partnership with Biya. Wafawanaka joined Bosso from Black Rhinos and his short spell had such an impact on the club and fans that he will always be remembered as a force to reckon with at the back.

Bekithemba ‘SamaNdloo’ Ndlovu was a war-horse, versatile to play as a right back and centre back as well. ‘Mabatha’, Kelvin Kaindu’s assistant at some point, was a very passionate player who started very nervously and sometimes clumsy in challenges. He matured slowly to be a defensive rock of note.

Beke’s career took him to Moroka Swallows, Silver Stars and Platinum Stars. His influential roles in these teams saw him playing different positions with much success. 

Dazy Kapenya was a cool ruler of his generation. ‘Walker’ was mean and went forward to attack. While he did not score so many goals, but his excellent passing skills were superb. He dribbled strikers in the dangerous areas. He partnered Biya, Nkalakatha and SaMaNdlo.

Kapenya played for Manning Rangers of South Africa, but he was uncomfortable in many unfamiliar roles he was assigned to. Like many Highlanders defenders, he did not feature in many national teams as he deserved somehow.

Lenny Gwata was one no nonsense defender with a heart-stopping tackling ability and fighting spirit. Gwata was very solid and made strikers very uncomfortable with his tough presence in duels. Gwata’s career took him to Dynamos Football Club where he was also an iconic figure with his steely combats.

Gilbert Banda, a young telling defender, was very solid in all aspets of the game. Gilbert now plays for FC Platinum. He was a rock and had years of excellence ahead of him. 

Phephisani Ndebele played well as a man marker. He was crucial in the many championships Bosso had. His combative stunts made him an easy choice for his role. Phephe always played with his heart and was well-trusted by his teammates. 

Itai Godzamapere was a central defender of high dedication and full of encouragement. ‘Mafero’ always pushed his peers to the limit and tackled very well. He played an old-fashioned conventional sweeper but did not feature prominently in the first team.

Itai Masawi was a very strong right back overlapping with a lot of thoughtfulness. He always played a calculated game with well-timed tackles and interceptions. He was consistent and dependable.  

He was intelligent unassuming player of enviable technical qualities, he attacked well and was solid in defence. The two Itais, Masawi and Godzamapere played together sometimes.

Sikhumbuzo Ndebele was another noticeable central defender mostly used by Roy Barretto. His tactical awareness made him very useful as he followed instructions very well. His playing days were folded when he went and played for Amazulu Football Club where he greatly matured for many years.

Fanuel ‘Launcher Ncane’ Ncube (mazita kupfekerana) was a determined right back of his time. ‘Malume’ was jittery when faced by Eagles’ Boy Ndlovu. The best thing about him was that he never dived into tackles. He flew when in attack mode on the right wing to deliver beautiful crosses for the likes of Nhamo Shambira and Dumisani Ngulube to score. Ncane had long spells in Botswana and enjoyed his football there until his last days.

Abraham Mbambo was so quick and fast, and loved overlapping just as much. ‘Nejane’ could do everything right and fail to deliver a pinpoint cross. People always wanted him to be perfect, but after the hard running and the steam is low, it was not always possible. He became one of the long standing members of Bosso players of all time.

It is said Mbambo was first on the list of Gibson Homela’s national team because of his discipline, dedication and respect for the game. He is one of the many players who started and ended their careers wearing the black and white stripe.

Dumisani Nyoni was the best left-footed defender for a long time in the country. There was an argument that he was probably the best in Africa in his prime. His crosses were accurate. ‘Savimbi’ was quick on his feet. He never waited for a move to mature before he was on his bike calling for a through ball on his overlaps. He played in national teams on many occassions.

Noel Kaseke had an educated foot and appetite to do well. Noel always wanted to learn and do well. He came to me after every training session or match asking for his assessment. He would say to me, ‘Coach, tell me even if it is bad. I want to know the truth so I can improve’.

Simon ‘Makwee’ Sibanda is one of the shortest defenders you will ever find anywhere. ‘Doink’ was so versatile and was so talented. His technique and timing always won the day for him.

Makwee scored a few goals and some of them wonderful. He represented the country’s junior teams on several occasions.

Netsai Moyo was a complete and rounded player with great vision and heart. ‘Super’ was such a wonderful and gifted team player with an unbelievable understanding of the game. He was always super in attack and defence, running and dribbling on the flanks.

It was during his days that the inspired Lovemore Majaivana cut a famous record, ‘Badlala njani ibhola’. 

Mercedes Sibanda was so good that friends and foes alike admired him. A great character with humour, ‘Rambo’ packed right-footed shots of canon-like power and accuracy. 

He became a great dead-ball specialist with comic arrangements with Willard Khumalo and Madinda Ndlovu. He was arguably the best right back in Africa for a long time. When he captained the national team and he was introducing players to the honourable delegates, he introduced himself as ‘John Rambo’ to the laughter of the dignitaries who knew him and all the players.

Melusi Sibanda played a special role as a wing or central defender. Mabaleka was a consistent and dependable ball winner. As a young and tireless work-horse, he became one of the crowd favourites and never let down the coaches.

Anzlom Ndlovu graduated from the youth teams and proved to be a defensive stalwart to rank among the best during his years as a faithful central defender at Highlanders. He complimented Malala very well, both having been groomed for the first team as a pair.

We pay respect to the many others who proudly wore the Bosso shirts, living and those who passed on. No one can never forget the joy they brought to the many homes during the glory days.

Who are your top back four?