Ode to a great midfielder

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By GOODWILL ZUNIDZA, Harare

Butler Masango, the efferverscent former Zimbdabwe youth international linkman, has been buried in his rural home of Chiweshe.

An energetic player blessed with midfield trickery and thoughtfulness, Masango passed away on Monday in South Africa where he had been based for close to two decades.

He was 47.

Masango’s stellar football career took him to a match away from the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, when the Zimbabwe u23 team bravely reached the last qualifying round.

Starring for Black Aces under the tutelage of Swiss mentor Marc Duvillard, ‘Bhatso’ as he was known, was selected into a star-studded Young Warriors that featured his contemporaries like Methembe Ndlovu, Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Edelbert Dinha, Elasto Lungu and George Mbwando.

Their last hurdle was a two-legged tie against a Nigerian side spearheaded by Nwanko Kanu and also containing the supreme talents of Austin Okocha, Celestine Babayaro, Tijani Babangida, Wilson Oruma and controversial goalkeeper Abiodun Baruwa.

Masango and teammates lost by an identical 0-1 scoreline in both legs for the Flying Eagles to scrape through to the Olympics where they won the gold medal.

The pinnacle of Masango’s domestic career was when he turned out for Harare giants and then league champions Caps United from 2000 to 2003.

This came after a sesson-long stint in Poland courtesy of scout coach Wieslaw Grabowski.

But he first rose to fame at Rufaro Rovers for whom he was the best performer despite his youthful age from 1992 to 1995 when the club folded.

In the mid-2000s, Masango joined Nico United in Botswana before trekking to South Africa joining lower division teams and later becoming a coach.

At the time of his death, the Chitungwiza-born footballer had wound up his duties at the Shaun Bartlett Academy where he occupied the rank of head coach and he now ran his own academy in Johannesburg.

It is here that he was producing talent for South Africa’s Premier Soccer League teams earning himself acquaintance with leading personalities like Jomo Sono, Kaizer Motaung and even Caf president Patrice Motsepe.

More than a dozen Zimbabwean footballers gathered for his memorial service in Joburg on Friday and all expressed grief at the loss of a a friendly, easy-going and passionate football man.

Among the legends paying their last respects were
Alexander Maseko, Ian Gorowa, Robson Chisango, Dinha, Moses Zhuwawo, Erasmus “Era” Chauke, Lungu Kapowezha, Admire Musinyari and Innocent Chikoya.

Chauke told ZimMorningPost it was Masango who took him on board at Rufaro Rovers and ensured he settled down well.

“Butler was a man of the people. At Rufaro it was not easy for me to break through an already well-knit team but Butler said I had nothing to fear.

“Our friendship grew up and it was me who brought him to SA from Botswana and in turn I saw him settle down.

“I have lost a brother because we talked about everything in life,” Chauke mourned.

Masango is survived by his wife, a former nurse at Chitungwiza General Hospital, and two children.


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