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Tendai Ndoro’s Road to Becoming South Africa League’s Goal Warrior

The famous colorful Mohawk stands out but Zimbabwe’s Tendai Ndoro is better remembered for his endless style of goal scoring.

Today, Ndoro is South Africa Premier Soccer League’s most sought-after goal machine and tops this season’s goal count with eleven. His rise has been nothing short of remarkable.

Overlooked by former Barnsley coach Eric-Tinkler – now managing leaders Cape Town City – and often finding himself rested on the bench, Ndoro still managed a decent five goals in limited playing time.

Ndoro’s situation changed for the better in the 2015/16 season when he scored a brace against a former club, Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Confidence restored, the Zimbabwean didn’t look back and marched on to cement his place as the team’s leading attacker. Defying all odds, his character is the reason for his incredible transformation.

Perseverance and fortitude aside, strength and speed are complementary qualities for the Orlando Pirates striker. Legogang Manyama is closest to Ndoro on the scoring chart with nine goals mostly attributed to the 28-year-old’s absence to the AFCON games for Zimbabwe’s national team.

Ndoro has only featured two times for Pirates since returning from Gabon – first in the goalless draw against 10th-placed Platinum Stars, and in the 6-0 annihilation by African champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

Subtract Tendai’s season goal tally from the sixteen Pirates currently has in all games, and the South African side will tumble to the bottom of the table. The defense held by Happy Quinton Jele, Thabpo Matlaba, Thembela Sikhakhane and a rarely used Abubakar Mobara, has succumbed to crumbling.

That leaves Ndoro with the herculean task of single-handedly holding the club together in tougher times as shown by Pirates’ disappointing league campaign.

The only other hopeful striker with a goal is new signing Thabiso Simon Kutemela, acquired from bottom-placed Baroka where he registered 18 goals in the previous season. The defense has supplemented with just four and conceded 17 more than the 16 the team has scored.

Fans should be hoping Ndoro quickly finds his scoring rhythm to recover from a dismal-looking season with thirteen games to end the championship.

Should it turn out the case, the Zimbabwean stands to benefit on an individual level as he sits on the brink of clutching the golden boot. That, however, will depend on if Manyama (9) and Rodney Ramagalela (6) fail to topple the scoring chart.

The Journey

The former Chicken Inn attacker is in his fourth year in South Africa’s top flight. His journey to the Rain Bow nation is not one without rough patches.

The 28-year-old was born in Luveve, the second-largest city in Zimbabwe and grew up with the dream of one day becoming a professional footballer.

Starting out in the streets of Matebeland – used debris and polyethylene bags for a football – Ndoro’s career actually took shape in 2011 with hometown club Chicken Inn of Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League.

Black Aces of South Africa’s top tier league were impressed and came calling two years later but prior to that, he played in Botswana after a call from the late Paul Bungaly, who at the time coached in the capital Gaborone.

Ndoro was asked to come alone but he insisted traveling with his twin brother Takudzwa, a goalkeeper now playing for Witbank Spurs in SA’s first division (second tier).

Taking the risk of traveling in a country they knew little about, the pair had to sell their only TV set to acquire travel documents. Using hard cardboards for bedding was another of several challenges but upon reaching their destination, Botswana MC ended up signing the twins.

With Takudzwa a late bloomer, Tendai’s talent was quickly noticed. The latter was signed to a different club later and in the short time Ndoro spent in Botswana, he came to face his twin brother scoring against him twice in six minutes in a derby match. Takudzwa was heavily criticized for his goalkeeping gaffes in the aftermath of that duel.

Proving critics wrong, Takudzwa won the goalkeeper of the year prize in the 2011-2012 season and the star of the tournament 2012-2013 award in the Charity Cup, a year before his in-field twin brother player, transferred to the Mpumalanga Black Aces based in Johannesburg.

A short loan return trip to Chicken Inn for the rest of the season was sanctioned but how Tendai thrived at the Mbombela outfit upon his return was what captivated many. Nicknamed Fire, a moniker given to him by a roommate while in Botswana, Ndoro blossomed and scored fourteen times for the 24 months he was there.

Next stop was Orlando Pirate who bought him from the Aces for a fee believed to be in excess of €200,000. He led Pirates to second-place in the CAF Confederation Cup and the South African Cup, last year.

Today, under Peruvian coach Augusto Palacios, Tendai has morphed into the perfect striker and is the most feared goal assassin in the South African PSL. The Zimbabwean idolizes Real Madrid’s legends, Raul and Cristiano, hence his Ronaldo-inspired goal celebrations and love for his club’s iconic number seven jersey.



Featured photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

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