The Sunday News
THE 1990-1999 decade saw the emergency of three deadly soccer strikers from Bulawayo, namely Adam Ndlovu, Agent Sawu and then everyday wonder Peter Ndlovu.
They feared no defender and scored for fun. All three lived up to their promise on the field since breaking into first team football in 1988-89 seasons.
They made it in Europe and enjoy legendary status both home and away and are regarded as some of the top strikers in the continent having scored over 25 goals each for country.
This week Sunday News Leisure caught up with Sawu who apart from being among the top goal scorers for almost every one of his active years in the Zimbabwe Super League, serenaded his career with the Soccer Star of the Year gong in 1993.
Sawu says in his entire career he never had any defender he would say was hard to beat. His assertion is also supported by the fact that he scored against both big and small teams in his career.
He played against four generations of defenders, remnants of the 1970s, talent that emerged in the 1980s, 1990s and those that found their way into the Castle Lager Premiership in the early 2000s.
He comes up with a list of those that he believes were good but not too good to stop him and his Dynamos and Zimbabwe Saints partners in crime upfront.
“I never had any difficult defenders, the only difficult ones were when my teammates were off form to supply me with good balls,” said Sawu.
Sawu says before his move to Cyprus in 1991, Highlanders FC defence kingpin Alexander Maseko stood out.
“Before I left the country Alexander Maseko, tall and a hard tackler, competed fairly well in the air and could also kick with both legs, he was competent opponent to deal with,” said Sawu.
So good was Maseko that he made the grade at Stanley Screammer Tshabalala’s shoeshine piano playing Mamelodi Sundowns FC of South Africa in 1992. He played with South African legends who included Daniel Mudau, Chippa Masinga, Bennet Masinga, Mark Anderson, Harold Legodi, Sam Khambule, Lovemore Chafunya and Ernest Chirwali.
Maseko played at a time when Ephraim Chawanda, Francis Shonhayi, Misheck Sibanda, Venancio Ncube, Garnett Muchongwe, Tobias Sibanda, Misheck Sibanda and Ernest Mutano were rated among the best centre halves in the country, a time when Melusi Nkiwane, Stanley Chirambadare, Claudius Zviripayi, Paul Gundani, Mercedes Sibanda and Alberto Kaundo were reliable wingbacks in the then Super League.
In full flight Sawu, Joseph Machingura, Mayor Eric, Pedzi Mugabe, Obey Sova, George Ayibu, Henry Mckop and Shayne Khamal were unstoppable for Zimbabwe Saints.
“Misheck Chidzambwa, Ephert Lungu, Sikhumbuzo Ndebele, Cleopas Dlodlo, Francis Shonhayi, Dumisani Mpofu, David Mkandawire and Herbert Dick were physical and aggressive. They intimidated their opponents with aggression,” said Sawu who could play on the left wing, the old Number 10 or lead the attack at the centre.
He contributed for one of the most feared attacks for the national team with the likes of Vitalis Takawira, Max Lunga, Madinda Ndlovu, Adam and Peter in the 1990s. They had the country spellbound with expectation of international glory during the Dream Team Days under revered German coach Reinhard Fabisch.
Sawu, who returned in 2002 for a season in Dynamos colours after being ignored by Highlanders, found the Bosso duo of Thulani Ncube and Dazzy Kapenya a handful.
Not so big and aggressive towards the opponent, the former pacey striker had praises for the two.
“Thulani and Dazzy were technically gifted, had good timing and were good readers of the game,” said the Europe and Africa trained coach.
Born on 24 October 1971, Sawu attended Babambeni Primary School and Pumula High School. At both schools he established himself as sprinter and striker and joined Zimbabwe Saints FC juniors under the late Jani Gwede.
He had cameo roles at Ingwebu Crackers before he made his first team break in the late 1980s. Sawu played Apop Kinyras, SC Kriens, FC Lurzene, Dynamos, CQ Lifan, Pitersburg Pillars, Durban Stars and Bushbucks. He is now a development coach at Premiership side Bulawayo Chiefs.