Those were the days when soccer was played with passion and pride – when fans’ emotions took precedence over personal ambitions, when bribery allegations were still alien to our game.
“These youngsters are driven by the love of money,” said the former Highlanders tear-away striker about current players.
“During our time, soccer was not as rewarding as it is today. We did not have good training kits and facilities, but the standard was higher.” Like most Bulawayo legends, Mudyambanje began his career at Mzilikazi High school – in 1981 and two years later, he was selected to play in the Bulawayo province’s Under-18 squad, alongside other ultimate greats likes of MpumeleloDzowa, who later starred for Caps United.
“We beat Manicaland in 1983 and went on to win the trophy again in 1984 after dismissing Midlands province. Inspired by this achievement, I joined Mornach football club, which was in Division One,” he narrated.
He was part of the Monarch team that embarrassed then Super League outfit, Black Aces with a first round exit from the 1985 Natbrew Castle Cup.
“We beat them 4-1 and I was happy to score one of the goals past Brenna Msiska.”
Monarch however, found a brick wall in a star-studded Black Rhinos that boasted players like Stanley “Sinyo” Ndunduma, Stanford “Stix” Mtizwa, Simon Mugabe and JaphetMuparutsa in the next round.
When he left Monarch, Mudyambanje joined another second-tier side, Zimbabwe Colts, then owned by the late Herbert Ushewokunze and with them missed Super league promotion by a point, coming second-best after Hwange.
The winger’s time of reckoning came in 1986, when he joined a crack Bosso outfit in which he played alongside the now late Mercedes “Rambo” Sibanda, midfield kingpin, Willard “Nduna” Khumalo, Peter Nkomo, Rahman Gumbo and NetsaiMoyo.
“My first match for Highlanders was a floodlit Independence trophy clash with Zimbabwe Saints, which we won 3-2. I scored the winning goal in that Barbourfields Stadium tie,” he added.
Bosso went on to lift the Trophy, after they beat Caps United at Rufaro Stadium. That was the year in which the Bulawayo giants went on to lift everything on offer.
In 1992 Mudyambanje hung his boots and joined Pats Bargain Furniture as aSales Manager. He has coached several clubs, including Ziscosteel, E.Msport, Caps Football Club and Bulawayo province juniors.
Last year, he partnered Lozikeyi primary school in Nguboyenja high-density suburb, in starting an Under-12 football academy.
“We are trying to restore local football to its glory days. Our soccer is not growing because we do not have a clear and coherent junior policy hence our endeavour to develop talent,” said the holder of a Confederation African Football coaching license.
He blamed Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for major international tournaments on poor planning and failure to groom new players.
“We should be concentrating on building our juniors, not recycling old players like Dickson Choto and EsromNyandoro. There is no need to hurry things. Instead of preparing for the 2013 AFCON, we should be preparing for the 2015 edition.”Post published in: Football