By GOODWILL ZUNIDZA, Harare
David “Yogi” Mandigora, who passed away in the cold morning of 12th June, 2021 was the epitome of a genuine football professional.
He turned out for only Dynamos during his decade-long playing career and remained in the game post-retirement coaching top teams both locally and regionally.
A jovial, fun-loving, easy-going yet intelligent character Mandigora got as much as he gave to the game such that he was one of few former players to own a house in the leafy suburbs of Harare.
Always with a cigarette in hand or on his lips until 2017 when he quit on doctor’s advice following the amputation of his right leg, Mandigora leaves many loveable memories etched in the minds of fans.
Mandigora had a way of handling situations even under extreme pressure and was entrusted with sensitive roles such as national team assistant coach on three separate occasions as well as being the only non-Portuguese speaking coach in the Mocambola league in neighbouring Mozambique.
“With football you just need to not only respect but also consider the views and opinions of everyone in the game,” he once told this writer on a visit to the training ground of his Costa do Sol club side in Maputo.
That might have been the secret to his coaching prowess which earned Dynamos their first league title in 10 years in 2007 and powered the Harare giants to a top four finish in 2008 African Champions League.
But as for those cunning midfield moves and unstoppable long-range drives which would see him called up to the national team and crowned the 1980 Soccer Star of the Year, the secrets will be interred with his bones.
Mandigora was born in Highfield in 1957, and was the seventh born in a family of 10 but he was the only one to choose football for a living.
With other kids in the neighbourhood, David cut his teeth at the township Boys Clubs of the day before finding his way into the Dynamos youth team at Under-14 level.
His teammates in the junior ranks included his enduring friends David “Broomboy” George and Richard “Nyoka” Chihoro.
They graduated up the youth ranks until Mandigora was drafted into the first team in 1976 at the age of 19, no mean feat at the time.
Many exploits are recorded of Mandigora during that era, including his inspirational performances when DeMbare met continental giants like JET of Algeria, Nigeria’s Shooting Stars and Canon Yaounde from Cameroon.
By 1987 Mandigora had hung up his boots and his first destination was Cone Textiles FC where he landed a role as assistant coach to Portuguese mentor Armando Ferreira.
A dependable hand, Mandigora was lured to the then Swaziland by Ferreira who had his contract with Cone Textiles terminated and he re-appointed Mandigora his lieutenant at Eleven Men In Flight (EMIF).
The Zimbabwean assumed full charge of EMIF after Ferreira’s sacking and he stayed in eSwatini until 1994 when he returned to the country and made Kwekwe his first stop.
Mandigora thereupon joined Lancashire Steel and masterminded their promotion into the PSL in 1995, the first team from the Midlands mining town to do so since independence.
Post-Lancashire Steel Mandigora worked with several lower division teams in an advisory capacity until his return to mainstream football in 2006 when Dynamos handed him their coaching reins.
By the following season Yogi had guided his boyhood club to the league title and subsequently to the African Champions League semi-finals in 2008.
Inhouse upheavals, characteristic of Dynamos, caused him to leave in 2009 but Zifa immediately appointed him the senior national team assistant coach under the Brazilian Valinhos in a quest to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
When this target proved futile Valinhos was repatriated to Brazil but Mandigora would be reinstated in 2012 on his return from a two-year ground-breaking stint in Mozambique.
Afterwards the affable mentor found a new home at Triangle FC but health complications forced him to cut short his stay and return to Harare to nurse his diabetic ailment.
It was never the same for the legend afterwards and he retreated further to his spacious Vainona home after his right leg was amputated in 2017.
Mandigora though appeared to be recuperating well and had set 2020 for his reunion with top-flight football which was however put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.
His unforeseen demise therefore came as a total surprise to the nation when the news spread.
Mourners are gathered at 9 Goshaw Street, Vainona.