SA BASED Zimbabwean national soccer team captain, Denver Mukamba, joined the rest of the sporting fraternity to mourn the death of Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, who was buried over the weekend
â€œEish, Senzo, eish, I would like to say to his family I am very sorry, eish, he was doing very well, he was the captain of Orlando Pirates, and for South Africa, he was doing very well and I think he was going to be the soccer star of the year,â€ says Mukamba.
In an interview with www.zimsinsa.com, in Pretoria just after Meyiwa,â€™s death Mukamba says the soccer fraternity , including foreign players were deeply devastated by his death, in robbery in Vooslorus in the East Rand.
â€œI didnâ€™t know him personally but we had met Â several times and Â we used to even greet each other,â€ says Mukamba, who described the late Meyiwa as down-to-earth and sociable.
â€œThis year he was going to be a soccer star and I saw him play at some games in Wits, he was a good guy,” says Mukamba.
On his own football career , Mukamba who is a midfielder at University of Pretoria , says he is focusing on improving his career and still hopes to one day play overseas.
â€œMy target, my main aim is to play overseas, I am a still young so I have to patient as I have about 15 more years to realise my dream,â€ says the 22 year old Mukamba with a determined look on his face.
â€œI just want to play soccer, for me money is a secondary issue so I am focusing on playing soccer and increasing my game time. For example players like Knowledge Musona played for a while in SA before moving overseasâ€ says Mukamba who started playing for the Zimbabwe national team in 2011 .
Mukamba started professional soccer by playing for Kiglon in 2010 and then moved to Dynamos in 2011. In 2012 he became player of the year at Dynamos and was also crowned Zimbabwe Soccer Star that same year.
After playing in SA for brief stints and going back to Zimbabwe, Mukamba then got a contract to play for Wits in 2013. Now the midfielder is on a one year contract with the University of Pretoria, affectionally known as AmaTuks.
Despite now finding himself at home in SA, Mukamba says he still takes his national team duties very seriously and considers it an honour to be captain.
â€œI am happy to play for the national team. I feel proud to be a national team player, playing for my country. Everytime I put on that armband I am not playing for myself but for my family, I play for everyone and the whole country, which is a big responsibility, which I take very seriously,â€ he says.
On the Zimbabwean national teamâ€™s perennial failure to qualify for continental tournaments like the African Cup of Nations and World Cup, Mukamba, Â blames proper administration and organisation than lack of talent.
â€œ If you know you have an away game players especially for the foreign based players, they have to be told in time when they need to play for the national team. In the World Cup qualifiers only 11 players ended up going to Guinea, imagine only 11. There is also the issue of adequate resources and the issue of money, players need to be motivated by being given more money.â€
When comparing his experience to playing in SA, Mukamba says there is no doubt that SA is worlds ahead with her neighbour north of the Limpopo.
â€œ I am telling you we can go far because we have good players. Zimbabwe has the talent. We(Zim)have to improve even the stadiums that we have, like the National Sports Stadium. Rufaro Stadium has an artificial surface and FIFA does not approve of such stadiumsâ€
â€œBut here in SA all the teams have good stadiums, they maintain their grounds, there are clubhouses for players to live in and pay their players. Everything is there is money, though their level of play is also quite good,â€ he says on complaints by some locals(SA) that players are â€œoverpaid underachievers,” adds Mukamba who is clearly happy plying his trade in SA.
However Mukamba says although he is happy and that other Zimbabwean players like Â that is happy playing in SA, and that there are a lot of Zimbabwean players like Â Cuthbert Malajila and Khama Billart who are also doing very well he admits that it is not being easy being a foreign player as it is very competitive because teams are allowed five foreign players.
â€œIf you know you are a foreigner, you have to be jerked up all the time to keep your place in the team.â€