Ray Bande Senior Reporter
MANICA Diamonds steely defence linchpin — Themba Ndlovu — is probably one of those worst affected by the Covid-19 lockdown inactivity.
After having signed a new contract with Manica Diamonds early this year, marking a sensational return to top-flight league football at the age of 34, fans are questioning his ability to fit in the same squad at the age of 35 next year when football action is expected to resume.
The 2020 season could not take off owing to measures put in place to arrest the spread of the virus.
For the 2014 Soccer Star of the Year finalist, just like any other player, it has been a season gone to waste.
“It is tough but we thank God for the gift of life. On the business side, it has been a big loss to us because by now we would have been talking of our achievements on the pitch,” said the nomadic player.
Given his age, the former Motor Action, Eastern Lions, Buffaloes, Chapungu, Harare City, Mutare City Rovers and Dynamos centre back is now in the twilight of his career.
However, he believes that he can still play in two more seasons in the top-flight league.
“We are following the coach’s individual training programmes. The individual training sessions are tough but I am really trying to keep myself in shape.
“The long break has reminded us that players do not play forever and therefore we need to hustle hard to feed the family.
“Despite my age, I can still compete at the highest level. In fact, I can still play in at least two more seasons. It just depends on whether I will be enjoying myself because at the end, football is all about having fun while making some money,” said the soft spoken defender.
Even though he grew up in Kadoma and acquired his primary and secondary education at Mupamombe and Rimuka schools, Ndlovu became a darling of many in Manicaland owing to his attachment to Mutare-based teams.
Ndlovu harbours sweet memories of his lengthy career in the domestic top-flight league. He reflected on his past with some of the clubs he has played for.
“Eastern Lions was the best. This is because we were still young boys, we played without any pressure. I also enjoyed my time at Motor Action and rate it among the best days of my career because that is where I first won individual awards. We also won trophies as a team.
“Buffaloes made me feel at home because I enjoyed playing with most of the guys. I took it as a stepping stone in my career. I also enjoyed my time at Dynamos. I enjoyed every moment l played there and I do not regret it, especially given the fact that I was on the Soccer Stars of the Year calendar when I was playing for Dynamos.
“At Harare City it was all good. However, although we won some trophies, we did not achieve our targets, hence it was more of a failed attempt.
“Chapungu was just like Buffaloes in some way. You play without any pressure and just enjoy the game. However, there is a culture of too much hard work there,” he said.
Even though Ndlovu was in the heart of defence for most of the clubs he turned out for, he has never suffered any career threatening injury.
“I have never suffered any career threatening injury and l thank God for that. l just had some knocks here and there. My friend, Simba Mambare, always ask why l did not pick up any injuries. l always laugh and tell him that they (other players) get injured because they play to impress. I play it simple,” he said.