BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster for former Highlanders and CAPS United winger Gabriel Nyoni.
After joining the Green Machine at the beginning of 2019 following the expiry of his contract with Highlanders, Nyoni had a blistering start to the season scoring five goals in the first half of the season.
The speedy winger’s combination with Joel Ngodzo made the Harare giants favourites to win the league title before he made a switch to the Absa Premiership side Maritzburg United in July.
While many were amazed at his meteoric rise into one of Africa’s best leagues, the 27-year-old star reckons things just have gone according to his plan.
“I knew I would be here today 12 months ago. I told myself that I was leaving Highlanders for Caps United only to play for six months and get a club outside the country. Even my friends did not believe me, but I worked hard and kept the dream alive,” Nyoni told The Sports Hub from his South Africa base.
Despite making just seven appearances for Maritzburg in the league, the Zimbabwe international has thoroughly enjoyed life in the Super Diski.
“It has been a great experience and I am still learning quite a lot. Absa Premier League is a league of dreams and only the hard workers get to experience their dreams,” he said.
“Professionalism is the biggest difference I have seen. Everything here is spot-on and every small detail matters. The pace of the game is also quite different, it’s a little bit faster this side,” said Nyoni.
Nyoni did not take much time to settle at Maritzburg and scored his first goal, rising from the bench to settle the pre-season KZN Premiers Cup with the solitary strike giving his team a narrow victory over Royal Eagles.
The speedy winger produced a fine display that earned him the man-of-the-match accolade when his side played out a goalless draw with in-form Chippa United three weeks ago.
“My teammates and the coach helped me settle well here and also considering the fact that I have my fellow Zimbabwean here in Clive Augusto, it was quite easy for me,” he said.
One thing that makes Nyoni a unique footballer is the fact that he is one of the few who have opted to pursue education and he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce honours degree in Marketing from the National University of Science and Technology in 2016.
A couple of years back Nyoni started his own sportswear brand, named GN27, for which he took to Twitter to seek investors in order to expand it.
But at the back of his mind, Nyoni is seeking to excel in football first and attract a bigger team which he feels would help his brand.
“So far I haven’t put much attention on my brand because all my concentration has been on trying to settle and play more games in the Absa Premier League. My target is to get to a bigger team and thus my brand will benefit from that,” he revealed.
Nyoni also spoke of his deep disappointment after his former side CAPS United were beaten to league title by FC Platinum last season.
“It was heartbreaking considering where we had come from only to lose the last game of the season,” he said.
But the dream does not end in the South African Premiership for the man who joined Highlanders from Bulawayo Chiefs in 2013.
In the immediate future he wants to help Maritzburg finish in a respectable position in the league.
“I want to take every game as it comes and make sure I help my team finish in a respectable position this season. Definitely I am looking beyond this league and it’s one of my biggest dreams to end up in Arab countries,” Nyoni said.
Judging by what transpired in the last 12 months for Nyoni, he may as well be playing football in the Arab countries by this time next year.