HIS recent goal-scoring spree has seen his stock rise into one of the most feared strikers in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL), with pundits describing him as Orlando Pirates’ replacement to the late Lesley Manyathela, who tragically lost his life in August 2003.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Tendai Ndoro is arguably the hottest Zimbabwean striker plying his trade outside the country right now, having bagged 10 goals in as many matches for Soweto giants Orlando Pirates.
The former Chicken Inn striker has scored five goals in the Nedbank Cup, including a dramatic breakaway effort to set a 10-man Orlando Pirates side on course to a 2-0 quarter-final victory against high-flying Mamelodi Sundowns last week.
His vintage perfomance against Sundowns saw former Bucs striker Andries Sebola comparing Ndoro to Manyathela — who was a top goal scorer in the PSL with 22 goals — (18 league plus 4 in cup competitions), before his tragic death.
Manyathela also helped Pirates clinch the league championship honours in the 2002/03 season.
“He [Ndoro] can be the solution for Pirates if they give him the supply,” Sebola was quoted in the South African media this week.
“My only worry is the supply from the midfielders to the strikers. If they can give him more supply, I think the boy will score more goals because he has got the pace, height and power,” he added.
“He is a good finisher and he is good in positioning himself inside the box, so if they can give him the supply, I think the boy will be the solution for them after Manyathela,” Sebola concluded.
However, impressive Ndoro’s rise to the top has not been a stroll in the park. It took almost the entire season for Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler to notice the scoring exploits of Ndoro after his big move from Mpumalanga Black Aces.
Instead of complaining about his lack of game time earlier this season, Ndoro continued to work hard behind the scenes and is now reaping the rewards of his patience.
Once he was finally given the opportunity, the 2013 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League top goal scorer seized it with both hands.
“God is doing wonders in my life,” Ndoro told Standardsport from his South African base this week.
“It was a great thing for me, joining the club. But I came here when they were already playing in the CAF Confederation Cup, so it was hard for me to break into the team. I just kept my focus and concentrated on working hard and my patience is now paying off.”
“It has been a great run for me and I would like to thank the coach for giving me this opportunity. My teammates have also been very supportive in each and every game we have played. It’s all about teamwork; we are fighting together as a team. We want to do well as a team and not as individuals.”
Ndoro’s goal-scoring exploits have seen calls for him to be included in the senior national team after being recently overlooked by coach Kalisto Pasuwa for the back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Swaziland in March.
The 27-year-old striker is however, keeping his feet firmly on the ground, although a national team call-up looks imminent ahead of the Cosafa Cup to be held in Namibia from June 11-25.
“It would be a bonus to be called again for the national team. I know the chance is still there, but at the moment I just want to focus on doing well for my club,” said Ndoro, whose twin brother Takudzwa is a goalkeeper at South African first division side Witbank Spurs.
In 2013, Ndoro was the star man for the Klaus Dieter Pagels-coached Warriors team that finished as runners-up at the 2013 Cosafa Cup in Zambia as he was the third joint top goal scorer at the competition with two goals.
He could come in handy for Pasuwa in the race for the 2017 Afcon ticket, where Zimbabwe top the group, with two fixtures, at home to Malawi and away to Guinea, remaining.
The player revealed recently in an interview with South Africa soccer magazine, Kick Off how his parents didn’t want him and his identical twin Takudzwa to pursue sport.
“Growing up, my father didn’t want us to play football. He wanted us to study all the time and he used to give us a hiding. But when you want something in life, it will take more than a hiding to stop you. We were good at school, but not that great and we used the talent we had in football.
“We had passion — we used to go to bed without eating because we used to get into trouble for neglecting books. But now our father is very proud and he is always wearing the jerseys with pride. When he goes to the shops, he is a proud man,” he said.
The brothers started their career with Railstars juniors in Bulawayo before joining former Southern Region Division One side Kujata–na enroute to Botswana’ Nicco United in 2009.
Ndoro played for two seasons for Nicco United in Botswana before coming back home in 2011 at the behest of Chicken Inn.
In his first season locally, Tendai scored four goals, but enjoyed his best season in 2013 when he won the Golden Boot award after scoring an incredible 18 league goals.
He was also part of the Warriors team that qualified for the 2014 African Nations Championship, but missed the tournament held in South Africa as it is reserved for players plying their trade in their domestic leagues.