Makhandeni legends tourney launched

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo's top junior football teams Highlanders, Chicken Inn and Bantu Rovers were kept apart in the quarter-final draw of the inaugural Makhandeni Legends Under-18 Top 8 tournament that was conducted at the Bulawayo Zifa offices recently.

Reigning Bulawayo Province Junior League champions in the Under-18 age group, Highlanders, were drawn against LMC while last season’s league runners up Chicken Inn will square off against Talen Vision.

GIVING BACK: Makhandeni legends Julius Ndlovu, left, Mthulisi Sibanda, centre, and Josiah Kashiri pose with the trophies on offer this year.

Bantu Rovers, who finished in third place in last season’s league race will play against Mpumelelo and the fourth and final quarter — final encounter will be between EM Sport and Makhandeni Pirates.

At the semifinal stage the winner between EM Sport and Makhandeni Pirates will play the winner between LMC and Highlanders while the other semifinal will pit the winner between Talen Vision and Chicken Inn against the winner between Bantu Rovers and Mpumelelo.

The tournament is sponsored by former football players from Bulawayo’s Makhandeni township, who are now based in South Africa.

Speaking during the draw, a representative of the organisers, Mthulisi “Major” Sibanda, said they had come up with the idea as a way of giving back to the community.

“The idea to sponsor a football tournament for juniors in the city came about after we realised that nowadays young boys spend most of their time hanging around bottle stores and we thought we should come together as former footballers and play our part in redressing this situation,” Sibanda said.

“We sat down and agreed that we had to do something instead of just complaining and merely pointing fingers.

“Luckily we had people who shared the same vision and we then assigned our friends who are based in Zimbabwe to engage the football leadership in Bulawayo. Today, I am here to assure you that this is something that we are very serious about.”

Sibanda assured the Zifa Bulawayo Province leadership that was represented at the draw by Washington Sithole, Mkhululi Mthunzi, Felix Ntuta and Siphambaniso Dube that the tournament will be an annual event.

The inaugural tournament is scheduled to take place over three days with the quarter finals set for April 19, with the semis set for the following day and the final pencilled for April 21.

Sithole praised the tournament sponsors for their initiative.

“I want to express my appreciation to the Makhandeni community for this initiative because I would like to believe that they have set a very good precedent and hopefully the corporate world will follow suit,” Sithole said.

Prizes on offer include trophies, medals and football equipment for the excelling teams and individual prizes for outstanding players.

Quarterfinals draw:

EM Sport v Makhandeni
Pirates, LMC v Highlanders,
Talen Vision v Chicken Inn,
Bantu Rovers v Mpumelelo

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