The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Reporter
TIMES might be turbulent or worse still gloomy for the oldest football team in the land but there is only one man who remains a glimmer of hope for better things to come to the multitudes of the Highlanders family — his name is none other than Ray Lunga.
He might be one of the shortest and tiniest players in the Premier Soccer League today, but his contribution to Bosso has been truly like the one Biblical David when he faced the gigantic Goliath.
For all of Bosso’s poor showing this season, Lunga has remained the only “hope” to show of this youthful and potentially explosive team assembled by its all time legendary son, Madinda “Khathazile” Ndlovu.
Unlike his nickname Khathazile, which literally means being troublesome, Ndlovu’s products have hardly been wearisome to their opponents with the threats merely being that of a puppy barking at a vicious dog. Nicknamed “Ndorindori”, Bulawayo street lingo for an old-fashioned and small mobile phone, Lunga has been carrying the hopes of Bosso on his tiny shoulders for a season, the team’s poster boy Prince Dube has all but failed to rise to his billing while another hopeful Bukhosi Sibanda appears to be a pale shadow of the youngster who exuded a bright future ahead of him.
As the old adage goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, Lunga’s small frame has deceived most of his opponents only for them to eat humble pie, proving that surely dynamite comes in small packages.
The diminutive linkman made his debut for the senior team in 2017 when he was brought in as a substitute just after the resumption of the second half by the then Bosso coach Erol Akbay in a league encounter with Shabanie Mine at Maglas Stadium. Ndorindori was not intimidated by the occasion but chose the day to announce his arrival to the black and white family from the team’s developmental side Bosso90.
Lunga dribbled past his opponents with ease and in no time he was the darling of the fans including the opposition’s, who were dumbfounded by his immense talent and ability to fascinate their heavily built players.
That day Lunga made an assist for veteran striker Ralph Matema to score Bosso’s second and created three more chances, which were fluffed by his teammates and with a bit of luck could also have found his name on the score sheet.
After the match the Dutch mentor ran into the pitch to lift the pint-sized player into the air in delight and was quoted in our sister paper, Chronicle as having said: “You have to forgive me guys because today is one of my happiest days. I had to rush to the dressing room to celebrate and if my youngster, Ray Lunga had scored I think I was going to dance on the pitch”.
Akbay went on to describe Lunga as an intelligent player who defies his stature.
“He is a smart guy and he created three chances and I was very happy with his performance,” he was quoted as having said.
Thereafter, Lunga made a number of cameo roles coming in as a substitute in most of the games.
When Ndlovu took over from the Dutchman last season, Lunga was part of his plan starting most of the matches from the bench. However, since the beginning of this season he has featured mostly in the team’s starting line-up, proving to all sundry that he is a vital cog.
“He is an intelligent young man with football brains and has a bright future ahead of him,” summed up Ndlovu early into the season.
Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu who took over from Ndlovu who left for Botswana side Gaborone United on interim basis said Lunga has been the team’s trump card this season.
“He remains our trump card this season and we can’t afford not having him in the team if he’s fully fit. He is a genius, he has scored one goal and made numerous assists for his team mates to score,” he said.
Ironically Lunga gave Bosso their first win when he scored the solitary goal against league debutants TelOne in week match nine at Emagumeni.
Lunga has been one of Bosso’s most consistent performers together with Ariel Sibanda while the midfield duo of Nqobizitha Masuku and Divine Mhirindira have also weighed in with match winning performance in some of the games.
“Lunga has been the most outstanding player in the team this season and I believe he can be more effective if played behind the main striker, which is the position he used to play in the developmental side,” said one of Bosso’s ardent fans Thabiso Gundu.
Lunga remains one of the few players in recent years to illuminate the local league with the notable being the dribbling wizard Boy Ndlovu who featured for Bosso in the 80s and early 90s, Shabanie Mine’s Max Ruza, Chris Kawema (Zimbabwe Saints), Simon “Makwee” Sibanda (Highlanders), Murape Murape (Dynamos) and Lovemore “Thula” Mapuya (Motor Action/Dynamos).
He is son to one of Bosso’s greats, Gift Lunga senior. — @DNsingo