My favourite team Caps United has stopped any pretence of promoting juniors. The team has decided to rely on veterans of the trade thereby earning the seemingly ageist moniker ” Chembere Dza Lodza “. Results have been far from pleasing , the team recently went on a seven match losing streak. Some fans have highlighted that the failure to groom players who understand the culture of the club has cost the club dearly. They look back to the past , a period in the club’s history when most of the players emerged from its junior structures. Many young players emerged. They were drawn from many suburbs in Harare but at one stage it was Glen Norah which was the hotbed of such talent. In this article, let me look at a few young stars who emerged and made Kepekepe their home.
George Nechironga-nicknamed “Tyson ” for his strength and powerful shots, belongs to a football family . His father Jawett Nechironga was a bustling forward in his own right. He played for St Pauls , a team from rural Murehwa. The team was crowned Champions in 1966, the first rural based team to do so and the first team from outside Harare and Bulawayo to achieve the feat. His other brother, Francis is the other one and i will feature him in this article. George was a powerful striker who used to pack powerful shots. The nickname denoted this strength. In 1990 he was so good he won the Soccer Star of The Year Award, a prestigious title. He shared the award with another emerging talent, Peter Ndlovu of Highlanders. Nechironga played for Caps United before leaving acrimoniously to join Darryn T. He later moved to Poland before finishing his career in South Africa with Bloomfontein Cletics. He also earned many caps the under 23 National and Senior National Team. What a talent ! ” The bustling Tyson ! ” we used to call him.
Francis Nechironga– another bustling striker who emerged from this hotbed of talent. He joined Caps United as school boy but found his path into the first team blocked by the immense talents of Stanley Ndunduma at right wing and Shacky Tauro at number nine. He however was able to get some game time before he moved to Rio- Dairiboard and later Arcadia United. Francis also played for the National Under 20 team.
Edwin Farai– Veteran coach Obediah ” “Wasu ” Sarupinda once declared, ” Come and see the next Archford Chimutanda !”. He was referring to the up and coming Edwin Farai who was then a mere 17 year old. Farai was a huge talent but sadly his time in the game was curtailed by in juries. We will never know if he would have reached the level of the master passer Archford Chimutanda but from the glimpse we had, i can say that Caps United was robbed of a great midfielder. He later played for Arcadia but struggled to keep fit because of the injury.
Benjamin Mpofu – nicknamed ” Mabla ” or ” Matambanadzo ” the young man was a rare talent. His midfield dynamism was evident from an early age. He was a hard worker and possessed a lot of midfield qualities which would have made him a great partner for” Mr Caps” himself, Joel Shambo. Sadly just as his career began, he broke his leg and had to spend over six months in plaster. He was still a student at Highfield High School and i used to see hobbling on his crutches after being dropping off the Caps United bus . I was worried because the injury took so long and by the time he returned, new talent had emerged . He had to move to Rio Tinto, Highlanders and Arcadia United. He was a big loss for Caps United.
Oscar Motsi – nicknamed ” Simbimbino “, Oscar was one of the most enthusiastic and energetic player i have ever seen. He simply loved to play and treated the ball like his friend. With Oscar in the team , fans knew they would get total commitment. His stay at Caps United was one of the most exciting period for the team since it re-established itself as the Cup Kings of Zimbabwe Football.
Tobias Sibanda – Nicknamed ” Rocksteady “, he emerged at a time when the Caps United defence was a bit suspect. When he was promoted from the juniors , he established himself as a confident young defender who feared no opponent. His confidence was amazing for one so young. When another young defender Silver ” Bhonzo ” Chigwenje was also promoted, the Caps United rear guard became almost unpassable. Tobias was also ” Street smart ” and used his street wisdom to unsettle strikers. He is among the top ten defenders to play for the club.
Basil Chisopo – he was so good , veteran commentator immediately nicknamed him ” Chisipo ” a play on his name but also hinting on his slippery nature , the way a bath soap is. Basil or “Bhashy” as his friends called was a rising midfield star who was destined for great things. During his brief stint at Caps United before injury put an end to his rising career, Chisopo served his team well and entertained. He was one of the most skilful players to emerge from this talent rich suburb. Again , cruel injury killed a career and robbbed us of a great star in the making. What a shame !
George Mandizvidza-nicknamed ” Mupurisa “, he was a good goalkeeper who is also a product of Glen Norah. He later moved to Highfield but he honed his football skills in the former suburb. Yes , Mandizvidza was a good keeper . I liked his confidence in goals, he never stood still, always on toes, shuffling around like a boxer in the ring as he stayed alert to repel any attacks. To be fair he served the club more in the juniors before moving on to Arcadia United , Rufaro Rovers and then finishing his career at Dynamos. Caps United however gave him the first test of Super League football.
Darling Choto – we called him ” Chola “, he was a descent right back who emerged from this suburb. I always felt that Darlington was a more talented as a goalkeeper but he insisted that he wanted to play infield. At Caps United he did not stay long before he moved to Canada.
Tidings Keta – beautiful name but injuries derailed his career. He was a good defensive midfielder but he did not play for long because of the injury curse.
Kudzanayi Taruvinga -” Good going Kudzie !” was the shout we all heard from the coaches as the likeable defender won another tackle. Yes, Kudzie was a popular member of the Caps United family who emerged from Glen Norah. I had to verify this because i always thought that he was from the neighbouring suburb of Glen View. I used to see him in this suburb a lot hence my conclusion. We all loved Kudzie but Kudzie’s commitment to training was suspect so in the end he did not reach his full potential. He later moved to Chapungu where his career fizzled out but at his peak, he was some talent.
Weston Mvembe– Allow me dear reader to smuggle on of my favourite players from this suburb,we nicknamed him ” Sekuru Jibha “. I admit , he was not the most talented but i liked him for his commitment to the game. He loved training , he actually enjoyed it. And he loved juggling the ball and as he juggled the joy on his face was palpable. Sekuru Jibha was also good company and there was never a dull moment when he was around. He was also a good motivator and rarely criticised young players. At Caps United , he did not get game time but he was a solid member of the reserve side. Unfortunatelyy, he died when he had just embarked on his coaching journey . I think because of his character , he was going to be a very successful manager. What a loss!
In this article , i have focused more on those who emerged in the first decade of independence. Others came later , the likes of Mike ” Mbozha ” Temwanjira Indeed, the suburb of Glen Norah was loaded with talent. The eagle eye of junior coach Alois Patsika unearthed many gems and Caps United was never short of talent. The fact that many legends of this great club also resided in this suburb acted as an extra motivation for the young and up coming stars. The likes of Shacky ” Mr. Goals ” Tauro, Friday ” Amayenge ” Phiri and Oliver Chidemo were respected members Glen Norah.
I still want to think that the suburb is still endowed with talent. Maybe what Caps United need to do is to engage a junior coach who can help to discover this talent. Fortunately for the club , they already have George Nechironga who is back in the suburb after his stint in South Africa. He holds a coaching qualification, they simply need to engage him so he can pick up the baton and carry on the good work of the late Patsika. This i believe will not cost a fortune, it just takes a commitment to junior development. Unfortunately those running the Green Machine seem lukewarm when it comes to junior structures and this has been their undoing.
What a shame !!