Another Ndlovu family making history . . . with fourth member of the clan clan playing for Bosso
IN the history of Highlanders, the Ndlovu brothers, Madinda, Adam (late) and Peter are the most famous members of the same family to have turned out for Amahlolanyama.
Another Ndlovu family is writing its own piece of history with four members of the same clan having played for Bosso. Out of the four, three are brothers while one of them is a son. When Mbongeni Ndlovu made it into the Bosso first team this season, he became the fourth member of his family to don the black and white shirt. Before him, his brothers Bekithemba (Super) and Dumisani turned out for the Bulawayo giants together with Bekithemba’s son Nkosana.
Nicknamed Fazo or Mbola, Mbongeni made his first team debut this season but was limited to coming off the bench with skipper Honest Moyo the preferred choice at left back. The youngest of the Ndlovu brothers has of late started most of the matches for Bosso and even played 90 minutes in the biggest game in the land against Dynamos.
The 19-year-old first attracted the attention of former Highlanders coach Errol Akbay in 2017 when he was turning out for Bosso90 with indications being that he would be roped in during the mid season transfer window. Akbay felt that he had not yet matured to play for the first team and decided against bringing him to the first team.
When Madinda was engaged as coach with his mandate being to bring back the Highlanders culture built around the club’s junior products, Mbongeni was one of the youngsters promoted to the first team from Bosso90. He seems to have settled well in Bosso’s defence and recently, he had the courage to venture upfront to score his first ever goal in Highlanders colours, an equaliser against Yadah in the Chibuku Super Cup, a match Bosso came from behind to win 2-1 at Barbourfields Stadium.
Watching the match from the terraces were his father and brother Bekithemba, a former Highlanders captain who is coach of Bulawayo City. Bekithemba said from the family of five males and one female, three of the boys have played the game at a professional level.
“There are five boys and one girl in my family, I am the oldest, Fazo (Dumisani) is the second born and Mbongeni is the last born, only three of us played football at a higher level. Two of the boys never played football at a professional level. Khulani Ndlovu, fourth born is a preacher in the Seventh Day Adventist Church in South Africa,’’ Bekithemba said.
Born 22 November 1998, Mbongeni attended Lukhanyiso Primary School in Mpopoma and then Msiteli High School in the same suburb. While at school, Mbongeni was already turning out for the Ajax Hotspurs juniors, together with Nkosana and Denzel Khumalo while another current Bosso teammate, Peter Muduhwa was in the Ajax first team.
Mbongeni left Ajax for Highlanders where he played for the Under-15, Under-16 and Under-18 prior to making it to Bosso90.
Bekithemba picked Mbongeni and Nkosana for Cosafa Under-20 Championship in Zambia in December last year. He feels that Mbongeni actually played better as an anchorman during the tournament where he also played at left back and centre back.
“Mbongeni makes us proud as a family. For him to play for Highlanders, is a big achievement and it needs dedication. He is dedicated and disciplined, he is a hard worker. We are happy that he played and scored his first goal. He is still young, he needs our guidance,’’ said Bekithemba.
“Our father has been supportive even during my playing days. The four of us we are proud to play for Highlanders, it shows that there is talent in the family.”
The former Bosso skipper, who made it into the Highlanders first team under Madinda in 1997, is glad that it is the same coach who has given Mbongeni a taste of top level football.
“I started my career under Madinda in 1997, and Mbongeni has also started his career under Madinda. I am happy for him and I know he will he will go far because he is in good hands. Madinda is a very good mentor with a good eye for the young stars,’’ Bekithemba said.
On what role he has played in his son and young brother’s careers, Bekithemba said during the off season he takes the youngsters through their paces and corrects them when they are making mistakes.
When four members of the same family have played for the same team, obviously the debate on who is better than the other always arises. Bekithemba, a part of the Highlanders team which won four championships in a row feels that he achieved a lot and wants Mbongeni to emulate him. He was at Highlanders from 1997 up to 2004. “Super” left Highlanders for South Africa after representing Zimbabwe at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. He was to return in 2010 and played up to the following year before he became assistant coach to Kelvin Kaindu in 2012 up to 2013.
“I will never agree that they are better than me, I won four championships with Highlanders so it pushes them to work harder. I want Mbongeni to achieve more with Highlanders, it’s a challenge to him to achieve more than me, and he has to work hard. He has already played for the junior national team, it shows he has a bright future, I think he will play for national team,’’ said Bekithemba.
He likened Mbongeni to Brazil and Real Madrid star Marcelo who is equally good in defence and in attack as shown by the goal he scored last Sunday.
“I don’t even know how he got there, it shows he is a versatile player like Marcelo, he is not afraid.’’
Nkosana is playing for Bosso90 which means there is hope of him and Mbongeni playing for the Highlanders first team while Dumisani is now training with Tsholotsho.
For now, Mbongeni is basking in the glory of being the only family member turning out for Highlanders, with pressure on him to achieve as much with the club as Bekithemba did.
Mbongeni Ndlovu (right) with his brother’s son Nkosana
Bekithemba Ndlovu during his days at Highlanders