Johannes Ngodzo over the moon

BULAWAYO - Former Warriors midfielder Johannes “Tshisa” Ngodzo is elated after leading Bantu Rovers to their first ever Southern Region Division One championship.

Bantu join the list which includes Black Rhinos from the Northern Region and Shabanie Mine from the Central Region, who now wait for the determination whether they are promoted to the top flight league automatically go they go to the play offs.

At the moment, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) are at loggerheads over the matter.

“Naturally, I’m over the moon. I’m glad to have entered my name in the history books after winning the Division One title,” Ngodzo told the Daily News.

“For those who followed the league, it was never an easy journey; thanks to the youngsters who fought till the last day. We were fighting for the championship but we were taking each game as it came.”

In the title chase, the Methembe Ndlovu-owned side, had enjoyed the last quarter of the campaign at the top of the table but had to sweat it out in the last few matches following a late surge by  Bulawayo Chiefs and Amagagasi from Victoria Falls.

Ngodzo’s side were however, able to hold their nerve in the final weeks to secure the title.

Tshinsha Guluva finished the season jointed on 64 points with Bulawayo Chiefs but clinched the title by virtue of a superior goal difference.

Since their inception, Bantu have prided themselves in unearthing young talent from Bulawayo and surrounding areas. This season was no exception as well.

“It was a difficult job using youngsters because if you look at most teams in Zimbabwe mostly in Division One; most players there are seasoned and adults,” Ngodzo said.

“We have a few players who are senior and the rest are young players who are between the ages of 17 and 20.”

Just like Black Rhinos and Shabanie, Rovers’ celebrations were a bit muted due to the unresolved issue of play-offs or automatic promotion to the PSL.

“It’s something that is worrisome but anywhere, I think we are prepared and we keep training to make sure that the players remain geared up psychologically for the play-offs; we don’t want them to be taken by surprise when a decision is reached.”

Ngodzo, who has experienced assists in Chipo Tsodzo and Agent Sawu, believes his side are now ripe for top flight football.

They have participated in the top flight league twice before after acquiring the franchises of Eastern Lions and Bulawayo Chiefs in 2009 and 2014 respectively.

However, on both occasions they did not last long in the PSL as they were relegated.

“The boys are now geared up to play in the Premier League. We have always been focusing on the Premier League so tactically we are prepared as it is every player’s wish to play in the top flight,” Ngodzo said.

“As a coach, I know the Premiership comes with its own challenges but I was once a player-coach when Methembe was the Bantu coach in our first campaign in the Premier League, so in a way he mentored me and I’m very confident I can make it.”

Ngodzo, who was a skilful midfield genius during his Warriors and Bosso days, said the club will not change their policy once they are promoted to the top flight.

“At Bantu Rovers we try to use young players, but we will see when we sit with the management and map the way forward and see if we can beef up the squad with seniors but still won’t dump our youngsters,” he said while also paying tribute Methembe, Tsodzo and Sawu.

“Our strength was that the club owner is a football person and technical team where Tsodzo and Sawu have an impeccable history in football so a combination of our brains worked for us.”

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