Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Reporter
“HE’S ready”… these were the short words that Highlanders coach Erol Akbay said to sum up young Bukhosi “Khosera” Ncube who seems to have all but cemented his place in Bosso’s starting lineup.
Ncube’s debut for the black and white senior team was in a league match last season against relegated Border Strikers, when he came in as a second half substitute and lasted the entire match against another relegated outfit, Mutare City Rovers.
Naturally, at the age of 18, Ncube’s entry into Bosso’s first team as a youngster did not illuminate fans at Barbourfields Stadium and the entire nation, the same way legendary Peter “Nsukuzonke” Ndlovu did with his dribbling and mazy runs, which saw him becoming Africa’s first export to Europe. Ndlovu was only 15 years when he made it into the country’s oldest club.
Soccer pundits and Bosso faithfuls would obviously rate Ncube below Benjamin “Makanaky” Nkonjera, Willard Mashinkila Khumalo, Thulani “Biya” Ncube, Johannes as well as Joel Ngodzo who also cut their teeth at the black and white army as youngsters.
However, what makes Ncube’s grand entry into Bosso’s first team worth talking about is that it comes at a time when the soccer fraternity has been rocked by allegations of age cheating over the last two and a half decades and the fact that he is one of the few players hailing out of Bulawayo to find his way into the “Team of the Nation”.
That the young lad made the long trip from the resort town of Victoria Falls to exhibit his skills in the soccer crazy and talent abundant City of Kings speaks volumes about his credentials and ability. His infiltration to Bosso has already made him a cult hero in the small town of Victoria Falls, which boasts of being a haven of Highlanders supporters. Possibilities are high that his popularity would surpass that of another former Bosso son, to come out from Victoria Falls, the late attacking midfielder, Nkosilathi “Diego” Khumalo because age is still on his side and regular play time for him is somehow guaranteed this season.
The Ncube family is all smiles about the fairy tale rise of their child from the dusty Chinotimba pitch to the lush greens of Barbourfields. To them it is like their son is already thrusting his skills at Nou Camp, home to one of the world’s greatest soccer team, Barcelona.
Bukhosi’s mother, Clotilda remembers taking the young lad to watch his father officiating Division Two and One matches at Chinotimba Stadium over a decade ago. His father, Lovemore Ncube is a former Class One referee and soccer player, who once played for Matabeleland South based Division Three outfit Leopard Shooters, which he assisted to gain promotion into Division Two in 1991.
“I used to take Bukhosi to watch soccer when his father was officiating at Chinotimba. I think that’s when he developed the liking of soccer. We are very excited that he is now playing for one of the biggest clubs in the country at this tender age,” said Bukhosi’s mother.
She said Bukhosi should focus at winning accolades with Bosso and growing as a player.
“I wish my son all the best and I want him to put all his efforts in ensuring that his team wins trophies including the championship. I want him to first of all win the hearts of the Bosso faithful and that of the club because those are now his parents. Thereafter we want them to bless him to move to greener pastures if such a move comes his way but for now he is their son,” said the mother.
Ncube started his soccer career at Chinotimba Primary School where he came in as a substitute for the first team while in Grade Five and later made it in the starting line-up in Grade Six. In 2008 while doing Grade Seven, the young lad joined Super Eagles Juniors in the resort town up until 2010 and then left to join Zambezi Lions Juniors for two years.
The youngster’s breakthrough into the soccer world came when he made it into the Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 boys Dream Team after excelling at a tournament, which was held at his home town while turning out for his school Mosi-oa-Tunya High School. He was part of the Copa Coca-Cola Dream Team that toured Pretoria in 2012. After impressing at Copa Coca-Cola, Ncube attracted the attention of numerous topflight and Division One clubs but his father opted to take him to the family’s team of choice, Bosso.
“After attracting a number of scouts during Copa Coca-Cola I decided to take my son to the family’s team of choice, which is Highlanders. We are originally from Bulawayo so my bond with the team is largely from my background. Bukhosi joined Bosso Under-16s in 2012 and would play for the side during school holidays while staying at his aunt’s residence in Luveve,” said his father.
He believes the fact that Bukhosi managed to break into Bosso shows that he is a soccer player with exceptional skills.
“I don’t doubt Bukhosi’s talent. His attributes are good ball control skill and passing ability. He used to play as an attacking midfielder but when he joined Bosso I realised that he was more of a utility player as his coaches Dumaza Dube and Gift “Thebe” Lunga played him in various defensive positions,” the father said.
His belief is that Highlanders remains the team of choice for any youngster who intends to take his soccer career to another level.
“I had a brother who was in Italy when Bukhosi made it into the Copa Coca-Cola Dream Team that toured Pretoria and through his links he had managed to make arrangements for him to pursue his career in Canada. However, the one who was to facilitate the move suggested that Bukhosi goes to play for Bosso first but the move didn’t materialise as my brother returned to Zimbabwe,” said Ncube.
Though he does not doubt his son’s talent, Ncube has not been able see him in action in the black and white stripe due to work commitment.
“The little I have seen of Bukhosi in Highlanders colours was when they toured Victoria Falls for a pre-season training camp in 2015 that’s when he broke into the first team. I want him to grow as a player and make a move abroad straight from Bosso not any other team,” said Ncube.
Bukhosi was part of the Young Warriors’ team that took part in the Cosafa Under-20 championships in December last year.
He is destined to play a big part in Bosso’s 2017 championship campaign as the coaching department seems to have faith in his ability.
Never mind his boyish looks, the youngster seems to have a big heart. No wonder, coach Akbay threw him into the deep end against one of the teams the expatriate “fears most”, Platinum FC, in the Zimbabwe National Army’s Charities Shield semi-final match last Sunday at Luveve Stadium.
Bosso managed to beat Platinum FC 3-0 in a match where former Dynamos striker Rodrick Mutuma starred with Ncube giving a good account against his much rated adversaries. Ncube was not intimidated and did not show any ball of nerves throughout the match, making timely interventions and even starting moves from the back. To sum it up, he was comfortable on the ball for someone his age thrust in the defence line against such a potent opposition such as Platinum FC.
However, the question remains, is Ncube the answer to Bosso’s right back problem. Highlanders have failed to find a regular right back since the departure of Bekithemba “Super” Ndlovu. Ndlovu now assistant coach at How Mine was the last notable right back for Bosso although Lawson Nkomo seemed to be a good replacement, he did not last the race as he was continuously dogged by injuries. Of course Bosso has had some exciting players in that position over the years notably the late legendary Mercedes “Rambo” Sibanda, Abraham “Nejani” Mbambo, Simon “Makwee” Sibanda among others.
“Bukhosi is ready he has the talent he will be in the team this season, he is ready just like Prince (Dube) and (Adrian) Silla were last season,” said Akbay.
He also got a thumbs up from the rather so difficult to impress Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu who said: “We introduced him into the first eleven last season as a left link . . . he is a good player”.
Time will tell if Ncube, who turned 19 last week provides the answer to the right back position at Highlanders.