By Charles Mabika
His father has already made history as the oldest player to feature in the domestic Premiership and on Saturday, Tinotenda Benza became the youngest scorer in the era of the modern top-flight league.
When Peter Ndlovu struck Highlanders’ second goal against Dynamos at the National Sports Stadioum back in 1990, in another league thriller which ended in a 2-2 draw, he became the youngest scorer in the old Super League at the age of 17.
The Flying Elephant would not have dreamt that 28 years later, another fresh-faced winger who was built like him in those early years, would join him on that elite podium
Enter Herentals teenage star Tino.
He scripted himself into the record books by becoming the youngest scorer (also aged 17) since the inception of the local Premiership in 1993.
His time in the sun came when he scored the only goal against title-chasing side, Ngezi Platinum Stars, last Saturday at the National Sports Stadium.
The Students forward’s goal was tailored in almost the same fashion as that epic finish by King Peter almost three decades ago.
Back then the King received a pass from Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo from the right side of midfield before storming goalward as he swept past Dynamos leftback Stanley “Samora” Chirambadare and squeezed his blistering effort between ‘keeper Peter “Chops” Fanwell and his near post.
And it was a startling remake of that vintage goal when in the 28th minute on Saturday, Herentals midfielder Archmore Majarira threaded his assist to Tino and the young sensation sneaked his way down the right channel.
He outpaced his marker, Ngezi leftback Frank Makarati, before firing his finish between ‘keeper Donovan Bernard and his near post.
These are the type of predatory finishes that will remain etched forever in any player’s mind.
As Tino raced towards The Students technical bench, he was hugged by his coach, Kumbi Mutiwekuziva and his dad, Innocent “IB9” Benza, the team’s director and veteran striker who started from the substitute’s bench that day.
“This goal is perhaps my finest so far and to learn that I have created some history by becoming the youngest player ever to score in a Premiership game, makes it very special indeed,” said the young player.
“It’s also my first goal in our debut season and I hope that this is the start of more glamorous things to come.
“I would like to thank the whole Herentals family, including the club’s supporters, who are just wonderful as they follow us at home and away.
“The technical team, which also includes my uncles Gerald and Paul, have been fantastic in my short professional career and my two elder brothers (Tafadzwa and Tariro) and my mom (Patience) always encourage me in good or bad times.
“My dad always keeps pushing me to strive for better things.”
Tino is an “A” Level student majoring in English, Business Studies and Maths and hopes to have time for both football and an academic degree.
“I didn’t watch many games that Peter featured in because of my age and only watched him when my dad took me to watch the Warriors matches during his twilight years,” he revealed.
Does he think he could become the next Peter Ndlovu?
“That’s a tough one, but I will strive to match and surpass that level,” replied the staunch admirer of Spanish giants Barcelona and their superstar, Lionel Messi.
For some of us, last Saturday, a darting teenager named Tinotenda Benza turned back the hands of time to produce a striking replica of King Peter’s classic goal — 28 diamond years later. The Herald