Buffaloes' secret weapon

MUTARE - Army side Buffaloes survived relegation by the skin of the teeth after finishing the 2013 Castle Premiership season just one point above the drop zone.

The main reason behind Watungwa Watungwa’s survival was the goal-scoring form of striker Steven Sibanda, who ended the season on 13 goals.

Although, Buffaloes were skirting with relegation, Sibanda finished the season as the league’s second highest top scorer behind Chicken Inn forward Tendai Ndoro, who netted 18 goals.

In the past four seasons, Sibanda, known as “Dealer” in football circles, has netted an astonishing 115 goals in professional football.

Sibanda’s scoring run dates back to 2010 when he was still playing for How Mine in the Bulawayo Division 2 zone when he scored 53 to help the gold miners clinch promotion into the Southern Region Division One league.

In his first season in the second-tier league, Sibanda did not disappoint as he banged 26 goals to win the league’s Golden Boot in 2011.

That was followed by another 23 goals in the 2012 season as How Mine won promotion into the top flight in only their second season in Division One. Sibanda moved from the gold miners after helping them win promotion to join Buffaloes at the start of the 2013 season.

At Buffaloes, Sibanda formed a deadly combination with fellow striker Jacob Muzokomba as they netted a total of 25 goals between them in the just-ended season.

Muzokomba was the PSL’s third highest scorer with 12 goals to his name.

Speculation is rife that How Mine have expressed interest and want Sibanda to return to Bulawayo while Triangle have also been linked with the striker.

“I’m yet to make up my mind on whether I will move or stay,” Sibanda told the Daily News on Sunday.

Sibanda is a fox in the box and is one striker who always pops in at the right time and moment to punish defences.

The cunning nature he displays on the pitch is also evident in the way he handles his transfers — something that leaves a lot of people baffled.

Take for example his move to How Mine in 2011. The previous year he had helped Mutare side Highway gain promotion into the top flight but he chose to join Chikurupati, who were playing Division Two football.

After excelling in his first season with the gold miners an opportunity to join Botswana Premiership side Township Rollers arose but he never took it.

Sibanda says “an unpleasing situation at the club”, made him spurn the chance to join a foreign club straight from Division Two.

“There are a lot of players with Premier League quality who are not in the top flight league because they are forced into some contracts due to pressing family responsibilities,” said Sibanda, a father of two girls aged six and two.

Sibanda cites the example of Mutare City Rovers captain Hibron “Chomi” Mukukutu, who he believes is the best player in the land but is content with playing his football in the lower leagues.

At the moment Sibanda is not thinking about making any big move outside the country as he has targeted earning a place in the Zimbabwe national team and helping Buffaloes in the 2014 season.

After a blistering start to the just ended season under Saul Chaminuka, Buffaloes appeared to have lost their way as the season progressed.

Chaminuka quit the club to join CAPS United and he was replaced at the Mutare-based soldiers by Timothy “Sicho” Masachi, who guided the team to safety.

“He is a good coach but he needed someone to share ideas with considering the level we are playing in the Premiership,” Sibanda said of Masachi.

The striker believes Masachi will be better equipped to lead Buffaloes to greater heights after gaining experience in the just-ended season.

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