Football legend Kadengu hailed Andrew “Mai Maria” Kadengu

Lovemore Dube

THE Zimbabwe Saints FC leadership has described Andrew Kadengu, who died at Chinhoyi Hospital on Tuesday, as having been a very influential player at the club. 

He was 72 at the time of his death. 

Kadengu stroked about two months ago and his health deteriorated leading to his death on Tuesday. 

Kadengu played for Mangula alongside the famous Chieza brothers, Alex Masan-jala and Lovemore Nyabeze. He had a stint with Alaska Mine and later Umtali United but would become an instant national iconic figure when he moved to Zimbabwe Saints and in his first year in 1974 Chikwata won the Nyore Nyore Cup. 

Vincent Pamire who heads the Zimbabwe Saints FC trustees Board said Kadengu was one of the club’s greatest heroes. He said prior to the likes of Kadengu’s arrival Saints was one of the teams in the league playing from one year to the other with less success. 

His arrival coincided with the turnaround of the club for better fortunes as in 1974-1979 when Kadengu was at his peak Zimbabwe Saints won many pieces of silverware, the Nyore Nyore Cup, Chibuku Trophy, Castle Cup, League and the Southern Zone Championship. Among the best players in the land were some of Chikwata’s stars and Kadengu was among those. 

In an interview yesterday, Vincent Pamire, who is the Zimbabwe Saints FC trustees board chairman said: 

“We are actually shocked as Zimbabwe Saints. He was one of our best players and achieved a lot with the club. We won so many trophies and became a nationally known brand because of him. He was a very big player for us and the country and when he retired he left a big void in our hearts and club,” said Pamire. 

The Zimbabwe Saints board boss said his club will explore how to work with the family up to Kadengu’s burial. 

“We will have to meet as Zimbabwe Saints and decide how we will go about this and how best to help the family. He deserves our honour as Zimbabwe Saints,” said Pamire. 

He said Kadengu left a big legacy at the club.

“His achievements for the club speak for themselves,” said Pamire who was at one stage chairman of the club. 

Ishmael Kaguru Zimbabwe Saints FC acting chairman said Kadengu’s death had come as a sad blow to the club. He said following a decision to go the academy route and stop gunning for Premier Soccer League football and Division One in the near future, the club had set on taping from former players on the way forward. 

“They played football. They are the ones who made Zimbabwe Saints the power-house that it was. We thought it wise to involve the former players in finding the way forward. They played the game, they know what has to be done so we looked forward to engaging him and others on the way forward for the club. 

“He was one of our best players. We mourn him sincerely from the heart for what he contributed to the club and nation. His death is indeed a great loss to us as Zimbabwe Saints and to the country too for what he did upon retirement,” said Kaguru. 

Kaguru also described Kadengu as a disciplined player and committed member of Zimbabwe Saints FC. 

The club chairman said he was putting his own resources towards a Saints Legacy Project that will see the history covered and he was hoping that his production team will talk to people like Kadengu. 

“As a player he was very disciplined and stayed Blue and White in his heart after retiring. He loved Saints and wished well all the time for the club. We want to perpetuate the Chikwata Legacy and we would have loved to have him interviewed but sadly he passed on before we could start. These are people worth documenting for all they did for Zimbabwe Saints and the country. It now gives me energy to rush in starting the legacy documentary now because we are living on borrowed time. Some of those who played with him are still living,” said Kaguru. 

Former Zifa chairman Trevor Carelse-Juul, who played for and coached Eagles, and was Dynamos coach in 1984, described Kadengu’s death as sad news. 

He posted in the former Eagles players’ whatsapp group: “It’s very sad news to hear Andrew Kadengu has passed away. I remember him well, a great player on the left wing and a lovely person. I was looking at a picture of him just last week and was thinking of him and wondering where he was. His spirit has returned to The Lord, may his soul rest in peace. Sincere condolences to his family. The Lord is their strength.” 

Kadengu nicknamed Mai Maria by his teammates stayed a devout Roman Catholic and was involved in football development in Mashonaland West. 

He was based in Chinhoyi and coached several lower division sides and was involved in the grooming of coaches as he was an instructor.

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