Ode to “The General”

Zimbabwean defensive midfielder, Tinashe Nengomasha, has finally left Kaizer Chiefs, but his legacy at the glamour club will not easily be erased.

The General who led from the front - Nengomasha.
The General who led from the front – Nengomasha.

“The General” took off Chiefs’ Number 8 jersey and crossed over to rivals Bidvest Wits early this week – leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of many of the Amakhosi faithful, who blamed the club for failing to pay the Zimbabwean for his loyalty to the club.

With his determination, talent and reliability, Nengomasha had become the barometer by which Chiefs’ strength could be measured. Very few people knew about him in 2002, when he joined the Amakhosi from Black Aces, then justrelegated from the Zimbabwean PSL.

The then 19-year-old Nengomasha immediately made the cut at Chiefs and joined alongside striker and long-time friend, Kelvin Mushangazhike.

Having cost less than his countryman Kelvin Mushangazhike, Nengomasha, then 19, was pre-judged by both the local media and soccer fans as one of Bobby Motaung’s foreign flop signings for the 2002-03 season.

Within a few games, the tenacious midfielder had won the admiration of local fans – his now trademark interceptions, exquisite shielding of the ball and diagonal passes earned him the nickname, ‘The General’.

His ability to marshal the midfield and not allow anyone to penetrate the Chiefs backline became a marvel to watch, gave Bobby the last laugh and set the Chiefs manager on the first step to being the best talent scout that he currently is in the ABSA Premiership.

Leaving after he raked-in 324 league and cup games for the club, Nengomasha is arguably the best defensive midfielder in the ABSA Premiership at the moment. He has also won several trophies with the club, the most successful in SA knockout competitions to date.

Although not a great scorer of goals, his ability to find the space for the front men to find the goals worked wonders, resulting in Chiefs refusing to let him go even when some French and Austrian clubs came knocking with mouth-watering offers.

Entrusted with the captaincy on several occasions, Nengomasha wore the armband between 2009 and 2011 – giving the youngsters direction and also doing his part with the ball.

When the club turned 40 years old in 2009, “The General” – a cult hero in most South African suburbs, especially Soweto, was voted 13th best Chiefs player ever, relegating even the club’s current chairman, Kaizer Motaung to 14th.

Being the only Zimbabwean in a list that included former club greats like Patrick “Ace” Ntsoelenge, Doctor “16V” Khumalo, Fani Madida and Brian Baloyi, Nengomasha really got his place in the sun with that honour.

Again, when South Africa’s best soccer magazine – KICK OFF, named Chiefs’ best ever foreign line-up in March 2010, he was an automatic choice, alongside fellow countrymen, Daniel Chikanda, Ebson “Sugar” Muguyo and Rabson “Sarafina” Muchichwa (substitute).

Nengomasha’s ambassadorial performance opened the ABSA Premiership to more Zimbabwean players. He was also used over the years to induct new signings to the winning culture at the club, where a barren season should produce at least one major trophy.

Far from being discarded from Chiefs, as some people would like to believe, Nengomasha decided to leave the club when he was offered a one-year contract and chose to secure his future with Wits, who offered him three. Club chairman, Kaizer Motaung, paid worthy tribute, describing the 29-year-old as “dependable from day one.”

“He always carried himself as a professional and his dedication on the pitch was second to none. He was a fighter and earned respect not only from his teammates but his peers in the Premier League and fans alike. He was a great servant for the club and we will forever cherish the years he spent with us and we would like to wish him all the best in his new endeavours.”

Post published in: Football

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