Former stars praise Kadengu Andrew “Mai Maria” Kadengu

Lovemore Dube

TWO former Zimbabwe Saints FC strikers Agent Sawu and Labani Ngoma have lauded the late club legend Andrew Kadengu for his role in their careers.

Kadengu, who will be buried in Chinhoyi today, died on Monday a few days after turning 72.

He played for Eastlands, Mangula, Alaska, Umtali United and Zimbabwe Saints. Kadengu was among three young players called up to the national team in 1969 to play in the final World Cup qualifier against Australia. The other two were Itai Chieza and Adam Maseko who was Mashonaland United’s (Zimbabwe Saints) goalkeeper.

Ngoma joined Zimbabwe Saints in 1984 soon after leaving Wankie Secondary School where he had been poached by Wankie FC’s Paul Moyo in 1983. Prior to his arrival at Chikwata, Ngoma was scoring for fun for the coalminers and he came to Bulawayo with a lot of promise after a good two years in which he was a member of the dominant Matabeleland Under-18 side for the Coca Cola tournament team along stars like Mercedes Sibanda and Sydney Zimunya.

The former stocky forward arrived at Zimbabwe Saints when the old guard of Kadengu and Boyce Malunga were close to retirement. He stayed there up to the championship year 1988. Ngoma said Kadengu had helped him in his game as he was experienced and knew the Chikwata culture and football very well.

“I arrived at the end of 1984 and left in 1988. At that time Saints was rebuilding, most of were young and the competition very hard for the first team jerseys. But I was automatically in because I was good, it forced the old guys to retire, Kadengu was one of them, we could walk tall.

“We brought bronze from the Cecafa tournament held in Uganda. I was instrumental, we beat Bata Bullets of Malawi for bronze,” said Ngoma.

Former Chikwata star who became the third Zimbabwe Saints player to be crowned Soccer Star of the Year after Moses Moyo and Ephraim Chawanda in 1974 and 1988, Sawu described Kadengu as a true legend who inspired his generation to take up the game.

“We are talking about a true legend of the game. A player who inspired many players across the country, a hero who helped build Zimbabwe Saints’ stock,” said Sawu.

Being a left footer, Sawu was inspired by Kadengu’s play and flair.

“He was an inspirational player whose conduct on the field was worth emulating. Growing up I wanted to play like him and be disciplined the way he was, he was a treasure to the club and the game of football. He left an indelible mark in the game in Zimbabwe and will always be remembered for all the good he did for the club, game and country,” said Sawu.

Sawu was promoted to the first team in 1989 and impressed getting called up to the national Under-20 and 23 teams up to 1991 where he was part of the teams that won the Cosafa Under-20 tournament in 1989 and a bronze medal at the 1991 All-Africa Games.

He would become a member of the Dream Team under famed Reinhard Fabisch.

He went on to Cyprus in 1991 alongside Rahman Gumbo, turning out for Paphos Athletic Union and had stints in Switzerland, China and South Africa.

Sawu says his generation was lucky to have players whom they would name themselves after when playing junior football or street games.

“We had the likes of Kadengu, William Sibanda, Robert Godoka, Shaky Tauro, Madinda and Joseph Machingura as our heroes. We all wanted to be them, we were never short of role models,” said the Zimbabwe football legend.

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