Collin Matiza Sports Editor
PATRICK Nechironga, the former roving midfielder of Air Force of Zimbabwe soccer side Chapungu United, has died. He was 56.
Nechironga collapsed and died of suspected cardiac arrest at his workplace at Zinwa in Harare on Thursday morning, according to his former teammate at Chapungu United, Moses “Gwejegweje” Chasweka. Nicknamed “Jele”, former firefighter Nechironga first made a name for himself as a hard working midfielder while playing for Chapungu United and helped the Air Force of Zimbabwe team to gain promotion into the then Super League in 1985.
The team was under the guidance of the late Lovemore “Mukadota” Nyabeza and the Gweru-based side had the likes of talented players such as the late Choddy Chirwa, Johah “Chivhu” Murehwa (late), Bekhezela Moyo (late) and Perkins “Yellow” Nyamutamba.
“In fact, Patrick Nechironga was among the seasoned players who I met at Chapungu United when I first joined the team from Black Aces in 1985. When I arrived at Chapungu at the beginning of the 1985 season, the team was already strong as they had a number of good players in Brighton Dzapasi, Wonder Phiri, Victor Murehwa, Beaven Gwamure, Johah Murehwa, Godfrey “Chuchu” Ndabora, Lameck Nyengera and goalkeepers Bapton Nchenyela and Gift Chilunjika. They were later joined at Chapungu United by a number of other good players such as the late Nkulumo Donga, Kennedy Chihuri, Gary Mkandawire and the Muteji twins Cain and Abel.
“Patrick Nechironga was the father-figure at this team. He was a hard working midfielder and he helped Chapungu United to gain promotion into then Super League in 1984 when Lovemore Nyabeza was the coach,” Chasweka said. And after playing for Chapungu United for a number of seasons, Nechironga later became a coach and was seconded to another Air Force of Zimbabwe side New Sarum who later on became Blue Swallows and were based at Manyame Airbase.
His most memorable season at Blue Swallows was in 2002 when he helped them to regain their place in the Premier League. During that season, Nechironga had Nyamutamba as his assistant coach and Blue Swallows had an array of talented players such as former national Under-23 player Elliot Mkonto, Kwanele Tshuma, Joseph Chatima, Wellington “Moneymaker’ Shangiwa, Emmanuel Soche, Innocent Chitembwe and veteran goalkeeper Tapera Maruta.
Former Dynamos tearaway striker Tauya “Doctor” Murehwa also played under Nechironga at Blue Swallows before he was lured by the Glamour Boys. Nechironga, who had retired from the Air Force of Zimbabwe at the time of his death, is survived by his wife Jessie and five children — two daughters, Yeukai and Priggie, and three sons, Hugo, Kamurayi and Patrick (Jnr). He is expected to be buried today at 2pm at his rural home at Chiware Village in Rusape.