Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE international striker Tendai Ndoro is now the toast of the Buccaneers after a stunning transformation in a season that has largely been frustrating for him following his double strike for Orlando Pirates in their Soweto Derby triumph on Saturday.
Ndoro has struggled to earn a first team place at the Soweto giants after arriving at Pirates at the beginning of the season amid high hopes that he could make a huge impact at the club.
But he has now turned it around and his double strike against Pirates in the Nedbank Cup showdown against Chiefs has thrust him into the limelight and last night he was hailed by Jonty Mark, the football editor at The Citizen newspaper, as a “fantastic” striker.
Mark, one of the leading football writers in South Africa, was a guest of the SuperSport weekly magazine programme, Back Pages and said it was remarkable how Zimbabwe continues to produce lethal forwards who make a huge mark in the South African Premiership.
“Zimbabwe just keeps producing talented strikers, Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, who have made a huge mark here in South Africa,” Mark said.
“It’s amazing that he (Ndoro) has burst onto the scene like this, his confidence is rising.”
Ndoro, who celebrated one of his goals with the “Zora Butter” dance, chose to salute his teammates in his post-match interview with SuperSport.
“It is not all about me, but all about my teammates and the club. We needed to go to the next stage, that’s what we came here for,” he said.
“Orlando Pirate strikers anyone can play there, if Majoro (Lehlohonolo) or Gabuza (Thamsanqa) is playing we have to support them. It is not a matter of me crying to play or what.
“Football is a team sport. The one who is playing we have to support him score and if he doesn’t, he can always try next game. As for the games that I didn’t start, I didn’t even complain. I am in the team, if the team wins it’s Orlando Pirates victory.
“I am now getting to understand to play with my teammates, the likes of Mpho, Sifiso (Myeni) when I run they now know they should put the ball behind and expect me to return it.
“My first start in the Derby and I managed two goals — it’s something that will always be there in my life. I want to continue doing it; not only for Derbies, but for all games.”
Ndoro also picked up the man of the match award to pocket R5 000.
Pirates’ coach Eric Tinkler said he always knew that Ndoro was a fine forward who could score nine times from the 10 shots that he takes, but the striker needed to work hard to earn his place in the team.
“We’ve always known that Tendai has that ability to score goals and we see that every day at training. But I spoke to him many times and I said to him, ‘just scoring goals is not enough in the modern game’.
“You gotta be able to work extremely hard for the team, both defensively and offensively. That was an area of his game that he needed to improve on and he’s recognised that.
“He’s now doing it hence he deserves his opportunity to be in the starting line-up. He’s moved in the right direction, which is good for him and obviously good for us.
“Tendai’s work-rate needed to increase. We’re a team in which everybody needs to work and we can see he is doing that now.
“Also, we know he has great ability in front of goals and when he gets the opportunity he must shoot because we know that nine out of 10 times he will hit the back of the net.
“But the most important is his work-rate, which we are now seeing from him and the way he expresses himself, which is also very important.”
Ndoro has now scored braces in his last two matches after scoring a double, while coming from the bench, in his other match for the Soweto giants.
Tinkler said he was now managing Ndoro’s expectations after his Derby exploits.
Pirates’ legend Jerry Sikhosana, who scored the winning goal that powered the Soweto giants to triumph in the African Champions League final against ASEC Mimosas of Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan in 1995, said Ndoro still needed to do more to win the hearts of the team’s fans.
“It doesn’t take just two goals in one game to make it at Pirates! You need to score more goals in order to convince everyone,” Sikhosana told Soccer Laduma.
“If he doesn’t score in the next two games, regardless of how much time he has on the field, people will forget about those goals.
“You need to be consistent and score once in every two to three games. Then people will love you,” he told Soccer Laduma.