The Sunday Mail
A journey that began in grief for this lanky Warriors centre back, who holds a special record in Zimbabwe’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, could end in joy in a few weeks’ time, at the same venue where it all started.
Soon after burying his mother Selinah Ndlovu who passed away in Bulawayo on May 25, 2017, a mournful Teenage Hadebe headed straight into the Warriors camp in Harare to prepare for Zimbabwe’s opening qualifier against Liberia.
The 23-year-old Kaizer Chiefs player partnered Partson Jaure at the heart of the Warriors defence as Zimbabwe romped to a 3-0 victory over The Lone Star at the National Sports on June 11, 2017.
Hadebe has made it to he first line-up in all of the Warriors five matches since the campaign began two years ago, the only one to do so amongst Sunday Chidzambwa’s troops.
It has been a journey that has taken Hadebe to Brazzaville, Kinshasa, Monrovia and he is expected back in Harare on March 24, when the Warriors host Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium.
However, the former Highlanders and Chicken Inn gallant defender has one wish, but sadly that wish cannot be fulfilled.
“I wish my mother was still alive, she would have definitely travelled from Bulawayo to Harare to watch me and my teammates finish off what we started in June 2017,” an emotional Hadebe told The Sunday Mail from his base in South Africa during the week.
Despite enduring a tough week at the Naturena where Amakhosi spent the week preparing for yesterday’s box office Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates, Hadebe took some time off to reflect on his Afcon journey with the Warriors.
“It has been a hectic week my brother, we have a Soweto Derby coming up on Saturday (yesterday) so we have been training twice a day.
However, I can spare some time to talk about the Warriors because they are the number one team.
“It’s every player’s dream to represent your country and the feeling is even greater when the technical team believes in you. Actually, I wasn’t even aware of this achievement, but the credit goes to all my teammates and the Zimbabwe supporters,” Hadebe said last Thursday.
Zimbabwe lead Group G with eight points and need a point against Congo Brazzaville to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations finals that begin in Egypt on June 21.
“This is a must win game and we are asking all the supporters to come in their thousands and be our 12th man.
“We need to make our fans proud and I am sure we will definitely do it for them,” declared Hadebe.
Zimbabwe have blown the chance to qualify for Egypt twice, first when they drew at home against DR Congo as a victory would have taken them to the Promised Land.
They went on to lose (0-1) in Liberia last November, as a draw then would have sufficed.
“Of course the pressure is there because we have blown the chance twice. Zimbabweans are expecting us to finish off the job because we are at home.
“As Warriors we are fighters and we won’t let the pressure affect us.
“We will get the job done,” said Hadebe, confidently.
There have been highs and lows for Hadebe along the way.
The all-time low coming during the Warriors’ home game against DR Congo last October when he scored an own goal, to deny Zimbabwe a victory that would have taken them to the finals.
It’s a blunder that he has forgotten about thanks to the support he received from his teammates and the fans in general.
“In our team we always have each other’s back. My Warriors teammates encouraged me to soldier on and fight for the team.
“Although it was an unfortunate moment but their (teammates) encouragement helped me to get up and dust up.
“I would also like to thank the supporters who were in the stadium that day, they did not boo at me but instead continued to cheer me right up to the end,” reflects Hadebe.
Although he struggled for game time at Chiefs early in the season, Hadebe seems to be getting back into the mix, having played regularly since the New Year.
Hadebe started in yesterday’s Soweto Derby which ended 1-1.
There are six central defenders at Amakhosi, namely Daniel Cardoso, Mario Booysen, Mulomowandau Mathoho, Siyabonga Ngezana, Lorenzo Gordino but the Zimbabwean international thinks such kind of competition has upped his game.
“Chiefs are a big team and competition will always be there. When I signed I knew what I was getting into but this competition has helped me a lot.
“There’s no time to relax at Amakhosi,” said Hadebe who has made six appearances for Chiefs this term.