Yogo Yogo reincarnated

31 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
Yogo Yogo reincarnated

The Sunday Mail

Langton Nyakwenda
Sports Reporter

HE was born a month before Blessing “Yogo Yogo” Makunike died in a horrific accident that also claimed the lives of his CAPS United teammates Gary Mashoko and Shingirai Arlon.

So he never saw his uncle doing what he did best.

Junior Makunike hears flattering tales about his late uncle, who turned out for CAPS United and the Warriors before passing away on that fateful evening on March 13, 2004.

Mashoko and Arlon died on the spot when a car they were travelling in burst into flames after overturning near Norton along the Harare-Bulawayo highway.

The trio was coming from a match in Bulawayo where they had won 2-1 against Njube Sundowns.

It’s now 18 years after that sad incident but the late Makunike is still remembered by multitudes of CAPS United fans.

And it seems the name Makunike cannot fade away from the local football scene.

Dynamos’ new teenage sensation, Junior Makunike, looks like he is capable of taking over the mantle from the late “Yogo Yogo” and ensure the legacy continues.

The 18-year-old midfielder, who was raised in Mzilikazi suburb in Bulawayo, struggles to explain his relation to the late Makunike, but what is clear is his desire to emulate his uncle.

Junior scored his first Castle Lager Premier Soccer League goal when Dynamos stunned Chicken Inn 3-0 in a top-of-the-table clash at Barbourfields Stadium last weekend.

It was a gem of a goal!

A Dynamos’ free-kick rebounded off the Chicken Inn wall and the ball fell to the teenage footballer, who neatly chested it down before hitting a half-volley that nestled past Pride Zendera.

His goal was one of the reasons hard-to-please DeMbare fans ended up singing “Tonde, Tonde, tomubaira mombe” in appreciation of their coach Tonderai Ndiraya.

Ndiraya has endured a love-hate relationship with a section of the vocal Dynamos fans, whom he wants to mend relations with.

In Makunike, he might have just found the weapon that could win him back trust from fans.

Junior’s composure on the ball and confidence, especially in big matches, is the stuff that could also draw back crowds to stadiums.

He is expected to start again for Dynamos in front of a twin defensive-midfield partnership likely to feature Keith Murera and Trevor Mavhunga when the Glamour Boys host Bulawayo Chiefs at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.

“At Dynamos, you are pushed to do your best.

“It’s a team where results are demanded every time,” Makunike told The Sunday Mail Sport.

Last weekend’s victory against Chicken Inn was a welcome relief for Ndiraya, whose charges had been on a long winless spell.

Their confidence appears back, buoyed by the win over Chicken Inn.

But, in Bulawayo Chiefs they face a bogey side they have never beaten in a league match in Harare.

The two sides drew 0-0 in 2018 when Chiefs were promoted into the top-flight, before slugging it out to a 1-1 stalemate the following season.

“It’s going to be a tough match against Chiefs; they will come with a desire to avenge that defeat in the reverse fixture,” said Makunike.

DeMbare won the reverse fixture 2-0 at Barbourfields in March.

“We have to keep working hard to achieve our goals. As a youngster, I have to push harder than the seniors. I have to show more desire,” said the Prince Edward Academy product.

Makunike was given a scholarship at Prince Edward in 2018 when he was still in Form One.

He left Mpopoma High for Prince Edward and went on to win a gold medal at the 2019 Copa Coca-Cola Under-15 tournament in Kadoma.

He then turned out for Dynamos’ Division Two side before he was promoted to the senior team early this year.

“This season, I am targeting to score at least five goals and also have about 10 assists. I am comfortable playing as an attacking midfielder; I know ndikapinda ipapo ndoita zvinhu zvangu.

“Coach Tonde gives me confidence; he just tells me ‘younger, go and enjoy the game’.”

In Mzilikazi suburb in Bulawayo, Makunike used to play against other talented youths like the duo of Prince Ndlovu and Mthabisi “Mabobo” Ncube, who are now at Highlanders.

His father, Jeffrey, always reminded him about the late Blessing Makunike, and this has served as an inspiration for the rising star.

“My father always reminds me about the late Makunike and that inspires me a lot. I am told he was a good player, so I just want to take over from where he left and elevate the name Makunike to higher levels.”

Makunike’s aunt, Violet Makunike, explained the relationship between the late Yogo Yogo’s family and Junior’s.

“The Makunike family is one big family.

“Our grandfather moved and settled in Bulawayo where he was working whilst Yogo Yogo’s family and others stayed back home in Manicaland.

“Our great-grandfathers were brothers and our roots are at Tsonzo, Nyakatsapa, in Manicaland,” said Violet.

Makunike’s talent has been described as “rare” by Prince Edward Academy coach Norman Taruvinga.

“He is one boy that can scale dizzy heights. He is one player I believed in, even before seeing him,” he said.

It was Taruvinga who convinced the footballer’s parents to allow him to move from Mpopoma High to Prince Edward.

“He is very skilful; his ball artistry is up there. He can do anything with the ball if he chooses to.

“He is just someone who is confident on the ball. He is not afraid of making mistakes.

“He is an enthusiastic learner; his greatest attribute, I would say, is his love for the game. He just loves to have the ball.”

Ndiraya feels there is need to give youthful players a chance to play for big teams.

“Sometimes you have to be brave enough and throw in these youngsters,” says Ndiraya, who also gave a platform to another teenage player, Bill Antonio.

Antonio is now in Belgium for trials with top-flight side KV Mechelen.

“One thing I like about Makunike is his determination. He has a good attitude to the game and I am happy to have him in my side.

“Yes, he will be critical as we move forward,” Ndiraya said.

The Glamour Boys’ coach has been talking a lot about the need to fix his relationship with supporters.

“We had a very difficult relationship (with the fans) in the past but I think after our engagement before the game against FC Platinum, where we implored them to support the players, particularly those who are new in the team, we saw a change.

“It has been difficult but hopefully they can rally behind the team and help us get the results we want.”

DeMbare are still in contention for the league title, which they last won in 2014.

However, they have fallen behind FC Platinum and Chicken Inn.

They play a Chiefs side fresh from a vital 2-0 win over Tenax that stemmed a four-game winless streak for Nilton Terroso’s men.

Chiefs’ skipper Malvin Mkolo sounded confident when he spoke to the media last week.

“We are working hard to make sure we travel to Harare and get a result,” he said.

Mkolo is one of the key players at Chiefs, who can also bank on striker Obriel Chirinda and exciting midfielder Mthokozisi Msebe.

Share This: