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Gumede, Ndebele pay tribute to Maphepha

by Staff reporter
13 Aug 2021 at 06:54hrs | Views
Former Highlanders administrators Ndumiso Gumede and Kennedy Ndebele have paid tribute to the club's ex-player and boss Ernest "Maphepha" Sibanda who died on Tuesday morning.

Sibanda (63) died at Mater dei Hospital after a long battle with diabetes and is expected to be buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery tomorrow.

Gumede is also a former chairman at Highlanders, whose executive committee brought Sibanda to Highlanders as a player.

"We were saddened to hear of the passing away of Ernest Sibanda. Sibanda first came to Highlanders when I was chairman of the club and we were playing in what was called the South Zone Soccer League. We were playing small teams like Black Horrors and Gwanda ramblers and one of the teams we were playing was Cone Textiles and that is where we saw him and we invited him to join us," Gumede said.

Gumede said he later encouraged Sibanda to venture into football administration.

"He excelled as a player and we told him to graduate from playing to the administration of the game first as a manager and then later of course as a chairman. He was an unassuming character, but very charismatic. old football lovers will remember him walking into the stadium ahead of his team to go and bounce the ball on the centre line. I doubt if current football authorities would allow that. We are really saddened, but at the same time happy that he grew in our midst to become Warriors manager," Gumede said.

Ndebele now Premier Soccer League (PSL) chief executive officer, was also at the helm at Highlanders when they won the league four seasons on the run.

He said he felt honoured to have worked with Sibanda at Highlanders.

"A passionate, talented, hardworking, dedicated and devoted football man. A disciplinarian. He was always ready to motivate the boys. I enjoyed and was honoured to work with you. You were a vital cog in that Highlanders FC team that won many accolades between 1999 and 2002. I shall forever treasure those great moments. may your dear soul rest in peace manager... (can't remember ever calling you by your first name) Ernest Maphepha (Phephex) Sibanda. Fare thee well," Ndebele said.

Sibanda was also an administrator at the now-defunct Bantu rovers and at the time of his death, he was board member at Bulawayo City Football Club.

Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni described Sibanda as a legend.

"A great legend of football who won several championships at Highlanders as a player, manager and chairman. An administrator par-excellence who did well as manager of the Zimbabwe national football team. At the time of his death, he was a board member at the municipal side, Bulawayo City, a position he held at Bantu rovers after he left Highlanders. Maphepha touched many lives and Bulawayo is poorer without him. To me, he was a friend, though much older than me — my father. may his dear departed soul rest in peace," Mguni said.

Source - newsday