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Makonese defies odds to lift Shabanie

FORMER Warriors vice-captain Zvenyika Makonese is enjoying a new lease of life after recently propelling his boyhood club Shabanie Mine to within an administration decision of reclaiming their place in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League next season.

BY MUKUDZEI CHINGWERE

Zvenyika Makonese during his time at South African giants Orlando Pirates

Zvenyika Makonese during his time at South African giants Orlando Pirates

The Chinda Boys won the Central Region Division One and they are now waiting for the football authorities to decide if they have automatically won the right to play among the elite or if they have to navigate their way through the rigorous playoff stage.

“Zvee”, as Makonese is affectionately known in the mining town of Zvishavane, marshaled the miners’ backline with the aplomb of a veteran and enthusiasm of a youngster, making it difficult to believe he was a year away from his 40th birthday.

“Actually, I was approached by Shabanie to come and help them and it was not a difficult decision for me to accept the offer because I personally love the club.

“It was unfortunate that we were relegated in 2014 but I made a pledge that I would fight together with the team so that we come back to play where we belong, that is premiership football,” he said.

The 39-year-old was happy with the determination shown by the youngsters while toiling in the Central Region Division One.

“The group of players we have now is very encouraging, they took my advice as their senior and they also followed the instructions of the coaches.

“They accepted the challenge that we want to play top-flight football again and they all shouldered the responsibility to win the right to play premiership football again.

“If we play premiership football next year, I think I still have the energy to continue maybe for two more years then I will finally call it a day with my playing career at 41.

“My career as a footballer is not much of a success, neither is it a failure. I am grateful with what I have achieved so far and I now want to achieve more with Shabanie,” said Makonese.

Makonese enjoyed successful spells during his first stint with Shabanie Mine before moving to the South African premier league where he had commendable spells at Santos and Orlando Pirates.

During his stint at Santos, it was reported that he impressed while on trials at English Premier League (EPL) outfit Stoke City, while fellow EPL rivals Wigan also had an interest in the defensive mainstay, but both moves however failed to materialise.

French Ligue 1 outfit Stade Rennes also enquired about his availability, but a move to Europe yet again remained a distant dream and he continued his trade in neighbouring Mzansi.

His life took a dramatic downturn after he fell out of favour with Orlando Pirates in 2011 with reports suggesting that he was now living like a pauper.

Last year, the former Warriors defender hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons after he was fined R3 000 by a Beitbridge magistrate after he was convicted of stealing a cellphone from a police officer. Makonese, who prefers not to talk about his misdemeanors, decided to return to the game that gave him fame and fortune to resuscitate his career and there was no other club he could turn back to other than his boyhood club Shabanie.

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