Ndebele’s record safe

Noel Munzabwa

HLONIPHANI Ndebele’s seven-year-old 12 goals league record as the top scoring Zimbabwean player is safe despite a threatening start by Zivai Verenga whose free scoring continued on Sunday last week.

Verenga, a former Highlands FC player notched another recognition in Swazi football on Sunday when he became the first and only Zimbabwe-born player to score in two consecutive league matches bringing his tally to three in the process eclipsing Blessing Sande’s two goals feat from early this season.

Verenga likely end the season as the highest scoring Zimbabwean. His 23rd minute strike put Matsapha United 2-0 ahead in a league match against Manzini Wanderers that eventually ended 2-2 at Somhlolo National Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Ndebele’s 12 goal record was achieved during the 2011-12 season when he was still at Mbabane Highlanders dropping to 11 the following year.

During the 2013-14 season when he moved to Malanti Chiefs he dropped to seven goals, the same year Verenga then Ndebele’s striking partner contributed three goals in seven games.

With four league matches to the season’s curtain downer, it’s highly unlikely that Verenga will hit double figures but Ndebele reckons the Matsapha United forward could have broken the record had he arrived at the beginning of the season.

“Verenga is a scoring machine. He has made scoring his thing. Had he arrived at the beginning of the season he would have set a new record. I played with him at Malanti Chiefs and he inspired me each time we played together,” said Ndebele.

With the game time he is enjoying at Matsapha United where he has struck a good chord with South Africa-born winger, Sphamandla Dhlamini, Verenga is likely to get more goals.

“It is my wish to continue scoring especially with the right combination, this is possible. We are creating scoring chances as a team and that goal at the weekend is a result of being at the right place at the right time,” said Verenga.

It will seem Verenga will continue with the rich vein of form as a fortnight ago he became the first Zimbabwe-born player to score a brace in Swazi football in six years.

Swazi football statistics might not be readily available as to when last a Zimbabwean player scored brace in Swazi soccer but one thing certain is that from our records is that Matsapha United new signing, became the first Zimbabwean to score a brace in the last six years.

Verenga, who promised goals upon arrival had rescued the then Saul Chaminuka-coached outfit from the jaws of defeat after falling into a two goals deficit in the opening 22 minutes to bounce back 3-2 over Tambuti FC and clinch their first ever league win in 2018.

He grabbed a memorable brace that rallied Matsapha United to probably the MTN Premier League of Swaziland 2017 /18 season’s greatest fight back with a 3-2 win in the last Week 21 fixture played at Mavuso Sports Centre on a Sunday afternoon.