Simba Jemwa,, Sports Reporter
“Love me or hate me, both are in my favour, if you love me, I’ll always be in your heart, if you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.” – William Shakespeare
Anyone who’s played sport will have experienced the zone, those baffling moments when things are near enough perfect. Roughly, it resides somewhere around the three-point mark, at which point pool, table tennis, computer games and slapsies are simply seen and effectively executed.
The purple patch, on the other hand, its manifestations separated by bouts of normal life, is a less numinous affair demanding a basic standard of elite skill and as such is a professional’s preserve, the rest of us left dreaming of a jam tomorrow.
In particular, the standard is difficult to attain in collective form, all the more so with a football team, demanding the integration of so many moving parts in the context of a spontaneous, flowing sport. But for one particular individual this season, it has become almost ‘every game’ occurrence.
But for the naysayers, all this aggrandisation of a player, who was for a while deemed a misfit at the club with whole sections of the clubs’ fandom calling for his departure, they will be wont to think “everyone thinks he has the prettiest wife at home”. Oh, how well off the mark they now sound and their lack of foresight clear for all to see, their concerns now all, but well-founded.
It seems current Highlanders’ hero, Lynoth ‘Sonjy’ Chikuhwa just totally dedicated himself to being the best and pursuing that goal with intensity and ruthlessness. He is now the supercharged superhuman who has reinvented centre-forward play at Bosso, reminding the fandom of the Zenzo Moyos and the Adam Ndlovus of yesteryear.
For one who seemed headed towards being hounded out of the club by its very emotional and often impatient fans, the change has been remarkable – a bright, elusive butterfly of Sonjy love has emerged.
The lad has been one of the outstanding players for Highlanders this season and the club’s leading goal scorer in the league and also teed up a few of his teammates.
And instead of being inevitably a bit fed up with having the piss taken out of him, he still signed an extension which may appear to be very, very silly but then contracts are worthless totems, he can still catch a flight to the South African league or better still, to Europe.
Who’s this then?
Lynoth ‘Sonjy’ Chikuwa is a 29-year-old striker for Highlanders and in case you’ve been off your head on mushrooms for the last few days, he has been scoring goals, like quite a few goals, 10 league goals to be exact. Even scoring a sweet effort from miles off the goal line and just to the left of the Soweto-end goal in the 2-0 home victory over Triangle. His brace powered Highlanders to their fourth consecutive win in all competitions.
And now thanks to ‘Sonjy’, Bosso have gone on a seven-match unbeaten run, winning five games including a 1-0 Chibuku Super Cup first round victory away at Triangle United, again. They drew twice against Tenax and Whawha.
A Mzilikazi boy, growing up under five minutes from Barbourfields Stadium, he spent time on Bosso’s youth books and even captained Bosso juniors when they were in Division Two in 2012!
A move to Tsholotsho saw him help the club gain promotion to the Premier Soccer League by winning the Zifa Southern Region Division One League title in 2014 before Sonjy was Tsholotsho’s top goal scorer in 2015 with seven goals.
In 2016, he packed his bags for Botswana’s Premiership side Black Forest after being scouted by Mompati Ditiro, who drove from Gaborone to watch Chikuhwa during one of Tsholotsho’s training sessions.
He didn’t last long at Forest as he was snapped up by Security Systems at the start of the 2016/17 season and went on to score six goals from 12 starts.
Chikuhwa was on the move again in the mid-season of 2018, joining Miscellaneous FC of Serowe where he registered some blistering form scoring eight goals in nine matches.
The former Mzilikazi Primary and Sobukhazi High School pupil, wants to use his stay at Highlanders as another career springboard.
And just like Zenzo Moyo did in his day, Sonjy’s move to Botswana helped him ‘learn to play football with grown men’ as the grizzled old warhorse coaches will always put it.
Why the love?
In the interests of full disclosure, for years some quarters chose to never see Sonjy as a top-rank footballer. Football remembers seeing him driving his career forward in 2014 and 2015 when Tsholotsho gave him a fair bit of football in the first team that season, scoring a few times. Some may have thought he looked a bit useless and it was hard to know what role suited him. He was a little slow sometimes, sometimes to the point of lumbering, to play on the shoulder, but didn’t seem to know how to play as a lone striker. Instead, he looked so comfortable on the ball game, he could have been a number 10. Some may have fully expected him to drop down the leagues and be playing for, say, Arenel by now.
This went so deep that even as he started scoring and playing fantastic football, fans still expected this to be a blip, a purple patch and nothing more and that his form would recede.
Of course, this doesn’t look like happening any time soon, though when he goes through one of those periods of looking like his legs are made out of night storage heaters and he is running through peanut butter, that thought always returns. Indeed, we can’t think of any supreme striker that is capable of looking so exhausted, washed out and anaemic, only to suddenly turn up the saturation and bloom into a bloody brilliant goal machine.
He is, of course, a gift to the unrelenting tabloid-like reportage and right-wing press in general. Here’s a nice boy who married his childhood sweetheart, looks after his parents and siblings and does right by everyone. He won’t be found at a sex-party or any party, indeed it is hard to imagine Chikuhwa even knows what sex is, despite having two children. Not an ounce of that sort of twinkle in the Chikuhwa eyes, oh no.
These days the press seem to have turned him into some sort of cartoon character who has just returned from the war or something and they vaunt his every move at every opportunity whilst overlooking that they have often called for his head. Hard not to think the worst about such things. Not that it is Chikuhwa’s fault, or indeed, anything to do with him at all.
His commitment to his game and to his club and his family has always been exemplary. He’s developed into not just a phenomenal striker but also a brilliant tactician. This isn’t a role that many, if any, perform well. To state the obvious, it is hard to create goals for others and score them yourself as well but this season’s tally in the Premier League shows that is exactly what he does.
Few players seem like instinctively great footballers who are born to it. Sonjy is one of them. His success is not just purely the product of incredible hard work and dedication – he is a supremely gifted forward who has found his voice and his feet at the club that began his development as a footballer.
At this point, he seems to have totally dedicated himself to being the best and is pursuing this goal with intensity and ruthlessness!
For a very modern player, playing a very modern role, there is nonetheless something quite timeless about him. Maybe he is a familiar sort of archetype: the lad up front who scores loads of goals. However, he has refined the role massively and very much made the tri-fold role of scorer, assist machine and responsible family man all his very own.
His mother, Stella Matope is convinced there is more to come from her first-born son: “When he was young, he was always respectful and reserved. We all knew he loved his football, but we were also worried that with his personality he would struggle to express himself. The one thing, however, that set him apart from everyone else was his strong will, his drive to do well. He never gave up on anything and would always be the last one off the dusty grounds near our home.
“He was always very concerned and caring about his siblings and began helping us to look after them from the moment he earned his first pay from football. Today he is a family man himself and has continued to make us proud as family in the manner in which he conducts himself publicly and privately.”
His maternal uncle, Mario Matope, who watched him grow also weighed in: “After he was born, he became one of my favourite nephews. He obviously did all the little mischievous things that all little boys get up to, but nothing to that became a major concern. Football was something my older brothers were good at and so when he showed love for it, we knew it may just be what he does professionally.
“I’ve been around Sonjy all his life and he has always been a consummate gentleman. How he even plays football with this personality surprises me. He was always well reserved and determined to do something with his talent from day one – him being in the spotlight is something that I have always foreseen because nothing beats discipline, determination and talent set in motion in the right direction.”
At the moment, Sonjy is focused on his football and this weekend takes part in the Chibuku Cup quarter-final against city rivals Bulawayo Chiefs at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow.
Article Source: The Chronicle