Where are they now?

JOHANNESBURG – Air Zimbabwe Jets are one of the most unsung former PSL outfits.

That was the end of my dream --- Nqobile Ndlovu.
That was the end of my dream — Nqobile Ndlovu.

With the likes of Lovemore Mapuya, Benjani Mwaruwari and Richard Choruma, they were a marvel to watch, exhibiting a flawless brand of football.

Nqobile “Moe” Ndlovu is also one of the players who made a name while plying their trade for the Harare-based club.

Ndlovu broke into the first team as a 17-year-old and went on to become the club’s chief architect in the midfield department in 1998. He shone in that position until the club was relegated to the First Division in 2000.

He was one of the reasons Mwaruwari banged so many goals, which later saw the former Warriors striker finally get exported to South Africa’s Jomo Cosmos.

“In the first days, we went into league games as underdogs, but after taking many top teams to the cleaners, we managed to shake-off that tag,” said Ndlovu recently.

“Despite being a teenager, the coaches always believed in my ability and always gave me as an example when talking about commitment and discipline.”

Many will remember Ndlovu’s man-of-the-match showing in a league game against Highlanders at the Rufaro Stadium in 1998, which ended goalless and saw Bosso almost hand the title chase to Dynamos.

Highlanders players, most notably their chief striker, Zenzo Moyo, broke into tears after the tie, as Dynamos seized the initiative. It took Zimbabwe Saints’ 3-1 drubbing of Dembare at Barbourfields for Bosso to finally return to the top of the log, where they eventually won the league title.

Having gone down with the club and continued to shine in the lower division, Ndlovu was whisked away by Army side, Blue Swallows in 2003 when they got promoted to the topflight.

“I was very happy to return to the PSL with Swallows, with whom I won my only professional medal, the Defence Forces Trophy, after beating Black Rhinos at Rufaro Stadium in the same year.” That joy only lasted a season though, as Swallows were relegated back to the second-tier league.

Ndlovu moved to Bulawayo, where he joined Zimbabwe Saints and played alongside former greats like Butholezwe Mahachi, Reuben Canada, Mthulisi Maphosa and Mlungisi Ndebele the following season. “I decided I had had enough of Harare and joined my childhood club. Saints is where I started my career and had left them when I was 16 to sign for Jets,” said the lanky former star.

But life at Chikwata was not a bed of roses then.

“Management was struggling to contain internal skirmishes and our performances on the field and I had to cross the border to Botswana, where I joined F.C Satmos, then coached by Norman Gumbo, a brother to national team coach, Rahman and things improved for me.

“The club valued its players, while the technical and top management supported us a lot and that is where I felt my career was back on track, but tragedy struck in 2004, when club owner, Sam Sono, died in a road accident. That ended my dream and I had to return home.”

The injury-prone star quit the game in 2006, when the game failed to pay his bills due to the bad state of the Zimbabwean economy.

At just 32, he should still be playing, but Ndlovu now works as a general worker in Johannesburg, where he plays soccer on a pastime basis.

In 1996, Ndlovu represented Bulawayo region in Scotland, where they were runners-up of 5-Aside tournament in Aberdeen and also won various Peter Ndlovu Tournament medals with Mzilikazi High School as a student.

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