The Sunday Mail
HE scored the 2014 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League’s first goal of the season and that was his only goal for the year.
Black Rhinos beat Bantu Rovers 1-0 in Bulawayo in that opening fixture, but as fate would have it, the soldiers ended up losing the Premiership battle, as they were relegated at the end of the season alongside Shabanie Mine, Chiredzi and Rovers.
But there was no doubt rising tear-away winger Brian Muzondiwa was one of the best players in the league last year, the reason his dribbles and defence-splitting passes charmed one of the best gaffers on the local scene, Norman Mapeza.
The 22-year-old trickster, whose name was thrown around at the 2014 Soccer Star of the Year selection process in November last year, is enjoying his early days at FC Platinum where the “professional set-up” and Mapeza’s “sheer brilliance” have also charmed the Glen Norah-bred player.
As FC Platinum prepare to embark on their CAF Confederations Cup journey, being the country’s sole representatives on the African safari following champions Dynamos’ withdrawal from the Champions League, Muzondiwa is highly tipped to blossom under Mapeza in Zvishavane.
He has already tasted international football with the national U-23 side, having featured in the Young Warriors’ friendly encounters against Botswana and Swaziland last year.
The exuberant Muzondiwa, whose silky ball-playing skills won him thousands of hearts at Rimuka where Rhinos played their home games last season, is one player to watch when the 2015 top flight league commences in March.
He didn’t deserve to play in the lower league and Mapeza, whose defenders struggled to contain the menacing winger during the semi-final of the Chibuku Super Cup played at Rufaro last October, did not waste time and snatched the youngster soon after the season ended.
“The young man is a very good footballer, very talented, I tell you, and that is why we acted fast to bring him here.
“I just pray that he adapts to our style of play quickly and that he keeps his feet on the ground.
“When you have a talented young guy like that, what you can only ask for as a coach is discipline and dedication,” said Mapeza during the week.
Muzondiwa, who played with reigning Soccer Star of the Year Dennis Dauda at Dstv Rangers in 2011, has also been overwhelmed by Mapeza’s work ethic and passion for the game.
“You just have to attend our training sessions to see what I am talking about; coach Mapeza is probably the best I have worked with. Mudhara Nomara vanotaura bhora zvazviri.
“His training methods, professionalism and sheer passion for the game are second to none, at least that is my own view.
“I am convinced I made the right choice coming here to Zvishavane; the weather is a bit hotter than Harare, but I will adjust,” said Muzondiwa.
He has had the rare chance of working under some of the best coaches in Zimbabwe, a rare experience, indeed, given his age.
Muzondiwa credits that privilege for his sudden rise.
Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera, a coach revered for his mastery of Division One football, brought Muzondiwa to Black Rhinos from Dstv Rangers at the beginning of the 2013 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season.
Arthur “Bla Tuts” Tutani, who replaced Saruchera later in that season, instilled more confidence into the youngster before Jostein Mathuthu’s strictness rubbed on to the player in 2014.
At the national U-23, Muzondiwa, whose brother Elijah played Premiership football for Underhill and Kambuzuma United, is under the tutelage of record-breaking coach Kallisto Pasuwa and reigning Coach of the Year Saul Chaminuka.
“Bla Tuts gave me the confidence at Rhinos; he would always encourage me to dribble and showcase my skill whenever necessary. He is a very good motivator.
“I will never forget Black Rhinos and Mudhara Yabo (Saruchera) for giving me the platform and moulding me into the player I am today.
“Working with Pasuwa at the Young Warriors is like a dream come true; he is the most successful Premiership coach in Zimbabwe.
“Chaminuka is a master tactician and I think that has helped my game a lot,” said Muzondiwa.
Mathuthu, who could not save Rhinos from sinking last season, gave his seal of approval of the youngster in an interview last year.
“Muzondiwa is very good on the ball; he is gifted technically and he is also strong despite his small body.
“He is one player we could not do without at Rhinos.”
It has not taken time for Muzondiwa, who some teammates call “Bhidho”, to settle at Mandava, given the presence in their dressing room of the likes of new Young Warriors skipper Wisdom Mutasa and fellow U-23 teammate Walter Musona.
“Senior players like Thabani Kamusoko and Daniel Veremu have also made it easy for me. I am settling well, but I can’t promise much now.
“Let us wait until the games begin, but I will do anything possible to win over the FC Platinum fans.
“FC Platinum is one of the best run clubs in the country; everything at the club is done transparently and I think they deserve more silverware in 2015,” said the former Chindunduma High School boy.
Maybe Caps United, who had the chance of snatching the boy when he was still at Dstv Rangers but thought his skills were inferior, might live to regret their decision as Muzondiwa has been fast rising into a highly dependable player.
“I grew up supporting Makepekepe and my role model was the late Blessing “Yogo Yogo” Makunike.
“I wanted to play for them and somehow they thought I wasn’t good enough, but as they say, let bygones be bygones and I am really satisfied with the path my career has taken,” Muzondiwa said.