By Langton Nyakwenda
The Premiership big boys are circling around Hwange hotshot and Soccer Star of the Year finalist Evans “Bhobha” Rusike.
Barely three weeks after the 23-yeard-old was named among the XI best footballers of 2014, enquiries about his availability are swelling.
League champions Dynamos are believed to be leading the pack of teams interested in Rusike’s signature.
Fairytale Premiership débutantes ZPC Kariba are also understood to have checked on the forward, who was Hwange’s top scorer with eight goals during the just-ended season.
His consistent performances in the 24 matches he featured in are one of the major reasons why Chipangano finished seventh in the league, their best league placement in three years.
Rusike is a big game player, as epitomised by his imperious showing when Hwange dismantled Highlanders 3-1 in Week 27.
Had it not been for an ankle injury that sidelined him for a couple of weeks, Rusike believes he could have matched or surpassed the league’s joint top scorers Charles Sibanda and Kuda Musharu who netted 12 apiece.
“The injury affected me badly,” said the striker, who is back at his Chitungwiza base after a breakthrough season with Chipangano.
As enquiries about his availability mount Rusike, whose contract at the Colliery expires in December 2015, told The Sunday Mail that “he is open to a career-advancing move.”
“I am overwhelmed, to say the least,” he said.
“It is not easy to be selected among the best footballers in a country that has hundreds of very good players.
“The past few days have been like a dream. I would like to salute the Hwange fans for their passionate support and the executive for creating a conducive atmosphere for me to shine . . . I can tell you that Chipangano are one of the best run teams in the league.
“Yes, I have heard about the interest from the local clubs; it is good that my capabilities are being noticed. I have a contract with Hwange and will respect that, but as a player I am also eager to advance my career” he said.
Rusike is the latest find from Chipangano, who have consistently provided a player on the soccer stars calendar since 2009.
Farai Vimisayi (2009), livewire winger Fortune Ncube (2010), grafting midfielder Nkosana Siwela (2011), midfielder Rodwell Chinyengetere (2012) and former Warriors right-back Eric Chipeta (2013) have all emerged from the Colliery and graced the Soccer Stars calendar.
Rusike, who says he learnt the skills of the trade from the great Chipo Tsodzo, disclosed that he gets valuable encouragement from his “brother in the game” Washington Pakamisa.
“I may still be 23, but I have seen and learnt a lot in this game. Bla Tsodzo taught me a lot during the short spell that I had at Zimbabwe Saints back in 2011.
“He would always emphasise the need for commitment and discipline in one’s career. It was a privilege hanging around him, he was a hard worker. That explains why he played for a long time.
“I am now very confident. If a lucrative offer comes around and my club agrees to let me go, I am sure I can stand my own even at these so-called big teams,” declared Rusike.
For a player who broke into the Premiership after he was spotted at a social soccer gala in Bulawayo by legends Agent Sawu and Willard Khumalo, Rusike’s rise over the past three years has been phenomenal.
“I never took the game seriously, though I had played soccer since primary school at Zengeza 5. It so happened that one weekend at the beginning of 2011, one elder from our neighbourhood organised a game for us in Bulawayo where we played soccer legends there.
“Sawu and Khumalo, who were part of the Zim Saints technical team, were among the legends we played and they told me that I had the talent to play professionally.
“They persuaded me to return to Bulawayo,” revealed Rusike.
He scored his first Premiership goal on July 16 2011, ironically against Hwange, whose gaffer then, Tennant Chilumba would never forget about a certain youngster he had seen at White City on the day his team played Zimbabwe Saints. Chilumba lured the rising star to the Colliery at the start 2012 season.
“My mother had some reservations. She told me ‘son you were in Bulawayo and now you want to go all the way to Hwange at your age . . . no, son’ and I almost changed my mind.
“But the likes of Pakamisa, whom I stay close to back home in Zengeza and one of my elders in the game, encouraged me to take the risk and I packed my bags to Hwange. It’s not easy to be recognised playing for teams like Hwange, but I have worked my way up and I need to thank my current coach Nation Dube for his invaluable contribution,” he said. The Sunday Mail