The Sunday Mail
Four years after waving goodbye to life in Sudan and ending a glittering career with that country’s football giants Al Hilal, Zimbabwe forward Edward Sadomba is still adored in the east African nation.
Sadomba is now winding down his career at Dynamos, the club that gave him the launch pad for his international career that also took him to Mozambique, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.
Although the 36-year-old striker was in Harare last week, his name reverberated more than 5 000km away from his home as Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum felt the might of his impact on Sudan from the moment they touched down in Khartoum.
As soon as Al Hilal fans realised that their team’s Champions League Group B opponents FC Platinum were from Zimbabwe, they made no secret of their admiration for Sadomba
During their encounter with FC Platinum, the Sudanese club’s fans had banners written “We Love Sadomba’’ pitched around the match venue.
Al Hilal won the encounter 2-1 at Al Hilal stadium. On that same night, FC Platinum’s other Group B rivals Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia and Egypt’s Al Ahly squared off in Rades.
Yassine Chikhaoui scored to give Etoile du Sahel a 1-0 win over 10-men Al Ahly as the Champions League group phase kicked off.
Yesterday, Etoile du Sahel were at Barbourfields for a showdown with FC Platinum.
According to FC Platinum spokesperson Chido Chizondo, they had an awesome experience in Sudan on the back of Sadomba’s reputation.
Chizondo said Sadomba played a huge ambassadorial role and raised Zimbabwe’s profile during his four-year stint in Sudan.
“I will speak from personal experience. I was in awe from the moment we reached Khartoum. lt was such a humbling experience to get there and instantly be given first class treatment just because you are from Zimbabwe and you know Sadomba
“Naturally, each of us carried the Zimbabwean flag with the same passion that made Sadomba an icon in Sudan. My hope is that more players will represent Zimbabwe in the manner that Sadomba did.
“He made me believe in the true ethos of football, that it can unite all people regardless of colour and creed and that will break any language barrier.
“He made me feel proud to be Zimbabwean,’’ Chizondo said.
Serbian coach Milutin “Micho’’ Sredojevic, who coached Sadomba at Al Hilal, said his former striker made a significant impact during his stint at the club.
A seasoned coach who has travelled the length and breadth of Africa, Micho said Sadomba is a club legend at Al Hilal.
“He was a special professional guy. He worked hard and scored goals, he is a legend,’’ Micho said, adding that Sadomba’s work ethic was characteristi c of most Zimbabwean players he has come across in football.
Sadomba, who will also call time on his playing career at the end of the domestic season on December 14, is humbled by the Sudanese love.
“It was a privilege to play for a big institution such as Al Hilal. Playing for such a club comes with a lot of pressure, the fans are so demanding but very supportive.
“I also appreciate what the club did for me, they know how to treat players. That is how players perform well.
“I spent four years at the club, I have great memories there winning four league championships, three Sudan League Cups, winning the CAF Champions League Golden Boot and the CAF Confederation Cup Golden Boot with the same club.
“The treatment and appreciation in Sudan is so wonderful, it was difficult to walk alone without a bodyguard. The fans are so amazing. Overall, the Sudanese people are wonderful,’’ Sadomba said.
Sadomba also rallied FC Platinum, insisting they could draw some inspiration from his Dynamos class of 2008, which reached the semi-final of the biggest continental club competition under David “Yogi’’ Mandigora.
FC Platinum are seeking to do better than their bottom place finish in their second successive group stage campaign.
“It’s possible for FC Platinum to advance to the next stage, but it depends with their approach to the game because you cannot use the same system in all the games in the Champions League.
“Those clubs have vast experience in this competition. ln that game, you need a team work approach with different systems of play.
“Tactical discipline is also important. For example, everyone in the team must understand the importance of high and low pressure defending, individual tactical positioning when attacking as well as ball possession, which is key in these games.
“North African teams are very difficult to play against because of several factors that contribute to their footballing supremacy. The principal explanation is money. They have diverse revenue streams so it is easy for them to buy quality players. They have a policy of investing in players and transferring them at the right time.
“They play at night, in hot conditions and in big pitches, thus compactness is key,” said Sadomba.
As Sadomba calls time on a fine career that also transformed his financial fortunes, he will no doubt look back to his period in Sudan as the major game changer in his football life.