Independence Cup gave me the breakthrough: Mudyambanje Tobias Mudyambanje

Lovemore Dube, [email protected]

FORMER Highlanders striker Tobias Mudyambanje has described the 1986 Independence Cup tournament as one that gave him the breakthrough at the club.

Mudyambanje had just arrived at Highlanders to fill in the shoes of Bigboy Ndlovu a centre forward who left Bosso the previous year to join Chapungu.

With Dumisani Ngulube still developing, Bosso with an array of talent in defence, midfield and fantastic wingers Abraham Madondo, Chris Ncube, Tanny Banda and the legendary Madinda Ndlovu, the club was desperate for a finisher.

Mudyambanje had just arrived from Olympics who were on the edge, with collapse written all over due to funding problems.

His first game for Highlanders was against Zimbabwe Saints in the semi-finals of the 1986 Independence Cup. That match was to change his football story as he scored the winner and booked Bosso into the final of the major event after the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s speech at Rufaro Stadium.

The gods smiled at the Nguboyenja-born and bred 58-year-old as he went to be Highlanders’ main striker for three consecutive years.

He used to score regularly and earned the nickname “Flash Dance”.

Positioning, finishing with either foot and flashing headers endeared him to the faithful Highlanders fans.

“It was my breakthrough at Highlanders First X1. We played our local rivals Zimbabwe Saints, it was not an easy game, I scored the winner,” said Mudyambanje at the centre of Nguboyenja Soccer Ground on Monday.

It is where he was groomed as a junior and at Mthwakazi Youth Centre in the neighbourhood a few metres from his family home.

He could not be intimidated by facing the likes of Ephraim “Rocky” Chawanda, John Sibanda, Garikayi Rwodzi, Lincoln Mutasa, Josphat Humbasha, Josphat Munetsi, Mayor Eric, Misheck Sibanda and Joseph Machingura one of the best Zimbabwe Saints sides ever produced. These were accomplished players on the local scene.

His Highlanders had the towering figures of Richard Ndlovu, Douglas Mloyi, Alexander Maseko, Dumisani Nyoni, Fanuel Ncube, growing Mercedes Sibanda, Tito Paketh, Titus Majola, Peter Nkomo, Abraham Madondo, Netsai Moyo and Willard Khumalo.

Mudyambanje was delighted with his second goal for Highlanders in the Independence Cup, finding the back of the net for the eventually winner in a match Bosso won 2-1.

It was to be among many trophies the club would win that season. Bosso won the Castle Cup, Chibuku Trophy and Rothmans Shield to be crowned Cup Kings wresting that title from Caps United who had since 1979 made it their business to dominate in tournaments.

He remembers the occasion well as it was the first time he got so close to Government leadership.

“I also had the opportunity to shake hands with the then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Cde Robert Mugabe,” said Mudyambanje.

Mudyambanje said as players since it was still close to Independence (1980) they felt the revolutionary spirit evoked through the staging of the tournament.

Their participation was an honour to many men and women who died for our Independence.

“It was early years of Independence, by playing we were thanking our fathers and brothers.

“It was a very special moment for me to celebrate our Independence in style,” said the former striker who is now into junior development and ministry.


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