Zimbabwe Saints legend Kadengu buried Andrew “Mai Maria” Kadengu

Paul Pindani in Chinhoyi

THE football fraternity here, was left in shock and disbelief at the death of former Zimbabwe Saints striker Andrew “Mai Maria” Kadengu. 

Kadengu died at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital (CPH) after suffering a stroke last week Monday. He was buried at Chemagamba Cemetery in Chinhoyi on Saturday. 

Former Zimbabwe Saints player and Warriors coach, Gibson Homela, expressed his sadness over the passing away of Kadengu, who was one of the finest players to have donned the Chikwata jersey. Homela said he knew Kadengu from their heydays when he used to play for Zimbabwe Saints Under-17 team and the reserve team. 

“He was nicknamed Mai Maria, I don’t know where that name came from. His death is a huge blow to the soccer fraternity and his family,” said Homela. 

He said his talent will never be replaced. 

“What pains me the most is the fact that we were supposed to have used his expertise for the growth and development of football, but sadly he is gone with it.” 

July Sharara who used to play for Metal Box, Chibuku and Black Aces, before being bought by Dynamos, said he was deeply hurt by Kadengu’s death. Sharara said Kadengu’s football history dates back to the 1970s and 1980s while playing for Chauya Chikwata. 

“However, his football journey began at Alaska Mine and Mhangura before going to play for Zimbabwe Saints.” He said while at Saints, Kadengu played alongside Gibson Homela, Max “Shaluza” Tshuma and Philemon Dangarembwa, just to mention a few,” said Sharara. 

“During that time, I was playing for Metal Box together with Sunday Marimo. Looking at Kadengu he was a humble man and always a “smiling assasin” wherever he was. We have truly lost a football legend,” he said. 

Sharara said they used to attend soccer coaching courses together with the late Kadengu. Douglas “British” Mloyi, a former Highlanders player who travelled all the way from Bulawayo with Homela and paid tribute to Kadengu. 

“To be honest, he was my personal friend although we were rivals when playing soccer, hence my coming for his burial. Surely the football fraternity has lost a football legend. He played for Zimbabwe Saints while I was at Highlanders,” said Mloyi. 

Mloyi later retired from competitive football in 1987 with Kadengu retiring around that time too. Chinhoyi Member of Parliament, Engineer Leslie Mhangwa, said Chinhoyi has lost a father. Mhangwa said Kadengu dedicated his time to playing football and coaching the game. “He gave his time to entertain people. Football is very important especially at this time where the youth are being destroyed by drugs which has become a menace to society,” said Mhangwa. 

He said it was very saddening to note that Chinhoyi had a lot of talent and potential but lacked sponsors with a will to develop the sport. 

Kadengu’s football journey began in suburbs of Makokoba and Mzilikazi when he was young. He attended St Patrick’s and Lobengula Primary Schools in Bulawayo. 

For his secondary school education he proceeded to Mzilikazi High School famed for producing former players like Max Tshuma, Lawrence Phiri, Billy Sibanda, Douglas Maneto, Chris Ba and Adam Maseko in the 1960s and 1970s. He started off at Eastern Brothers who evolved to Eastlands and moved to Mangula who became Mhangura after Independence. 

Mangula loaned him out to Alaska Mine who saw Umtali United sign him on where the following year in 1973, he alongside Ebson Muguyo and Wonder Chisetera left the Manicaland pride to join Chikwata and Chibuku Shumba respectively. Kadengu established himself at Chikwata winning the 1974 BAT Rosebowl, the 1976 Chibuku Tropht and the league and cup double of 1977. Chikwata won the Castle Cup in 1979 and were regional champions and runners up in the national league play-off and Chibuku Trophy final. 

Mai Maria was among the 1978 Soccer Stars of the Year finalists following a brilliant season for the Bulawayo giants. At the height of his career, he was several times called up for the senior national team with his first call up having been in 1969 for the squad that was a whisker away from playing in the 1970 World Cup finals. The country was beaten 3-1 by Australia in the final qualifier but it took two replays for the Oceania vast country to proceed to the finals. 

l Additional reporting by Lovemore Dube, Bulawayo Zimpapers Sports Hub Co-ordinator

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