By Petros Kausiyo and Grace Chingoma
Zimbabwe’s football family was yesterday plunged into mourning following the death of former Warriors, Ajax Cape Town and Moroka Swallows winger Edzai Kasinauyo (42) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Kasinauyo died at Donald Gordon Medical Centre, a private hospital in Johannesburg, where he had been admitted for a few days.
Although the cause of death was still unclear at the time of writing, Kasinauyo’s former Warriors teammates, Ian Gorowa and Peter Ndlovu, confirmed that the former roving midfielder passed away earlier yesterday.
His close friend, former Premier Soccer League chairperson Twine Phiri, had first broken the news earlier in the day.
Tributes poured in from across the continent and in Europe following the death of the former ZIFA executive member in charge of development.
Germany-based George Mbwando said he had been shocked by the news of the death of his close friend with whom he partnered on a number of programmes after their retirement from the game, including catering for orphaned children in Hwange through the Football Against HIV/AIDS project.
“I am just in state of shock. We had big dreams, but it is God who gives and takes. I can’t believe I am not going to see you again or hear your voice. You played your part . . . go well my friend,’’ Mbwando said.
ZIFA expressed shock following Kasinauyo’s death, with the association’s president, Philip Chiyangwa, describing the VW football ambassador to Zimbabwe as a legend.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association has learnt with great consternation and immense sadness the passing away of our former executive committee member and legend, Edzai Kasinauyo,” Chiyangwa said in a statement.
“It’s a huge shock to us that he has passed away without even hearing about his illness.
‘’Eddie’s professional career as a player was inspirational and it touched the lives of many, not only in Zimbabwe but on the globe.
“He was a great player and administrator with a great personality.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association is immensely hurt by the departure of such a splendid administrator and legend, who had a passion for development and invested a lot in youth football.
“It is undeniable veracity that he served the game of football with distinction and it will be very difficult to fill the void he has left.
“Edzai worked resolutely for Zimbabwean football and the association is hurt by the loss of such an intelligent administrator.
“On behalf of the ZIFA Executive Committee, the ZIFA Assembly, the entire football family and on my own behalf, I extend deepest condolences to the bereaved Kasinauyo family and the football fraternity during this painful period.’’
Zimbabwe Soccer Supporters’ Association leader Eddie “Mboma’’ Nyatanga described Kasinauyo as a “humble young man who was dedicated to football’’.
In 2010, Kasinauyo and Ndlovu were appointed VW ambassadors in Zimbabwe, with the pair leading a group of Under-13 players drawn from various schools on a dream trip to Madrid, Spain, for the VW World Masters tournament.
Yesterday, football supporters, players and administrators said it was a blow that the former player, who had ventured into player management and administration, had “gone too soon’’.
Apart from his ventures into sportswear retail, Kasinauyo, through his company, Tamba Sport International, managed a number of players and helped them secure professional careers mostly at South African top-flight clubs.
They include Zimbabwe skipper Knowledge Musona, Mamelodi Sundowns’ Khama Billiat, Evans Rusike, Tafadzwa Rusike, Willard Katsande, Thomas Sweswe, Zhaimu Jambo, Oscar Machapa, Gilbert Mapemba and Ronald Chitiyo.
Billiat’s mother said he was also devastated by the news of Kasinauyo’s death.
“I heard it a while ago. I broke down, I just couldn’t take it. We have lost a good manager whom we trusted with Khama’s career.
‘’He was always there for him, guiding him with football decisions and personal decisions. He would always come here and was hard working. Rest in peace Edzai,” she said.
CAPS United midfielder Chitiyo said he had been shocked by the death of his manager, who was currently lining up a fresh deal for him for a move to a South African Premiership outfit.
“It’s sad. I cannot really say much at the moment. I am in shock. I was only talking to him yesterday (Thursday) over the phone and I cannot believe it that he is no longer with us.
‘’It is very painful. He motivated me a lot, gave me hope in my career.
“He started managing me in 2013 and is the one who took me to Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town for trials. This is sad,” said Chitiyo.
Dynamos president Kenny Mubaiwa, who is also the PSL leader, said it was a sad day for domestic football.
“My sincere condolences to the Kasinauyo family for their loss. It’s our loss too. We worked with him well on the BancABC kits deal.
‘’We have lost a hardworking young man. Whenever we ran short of soccer balls, he would quickly supply us from his shop.
‘’On behalf of the Dynamos Football Club and on my behalf, we say rest in peace Edzai. We are very sorry, he had a great future in football administration,” said Mubaiwa.
PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele joined in the tributes.
“It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the untimely death of football legend Edzai Kasinauyo.
“On behalf of the PSL Board of Governors, clubs and staff, we would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Kasinauyo family, friends and the entire football fraternity.
“Edzai Kasinauyo was a dedicated man and hard worker, who achieved an incredible career as a football administrator as well as a businessman.
“He will be remembered as a legend who transformed the game of football in so many ways. His service to football will forever be cherished.
May his soul rest in peace,” wrote Ndebele.
Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe also wrote on their Twitter account: “We’re devastated to hear the news that Edzai Kasinauyo has passed away. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends.”
South African clubs and sections of the country’s sports media also expressed their condolences on social media.
Ajax posted “Rest in Peace Edzai” on Twitter while Soccer Laduma also paid tribute to the former player.
“Everyone at Soccer Laduma wishes to send their condolences to the Kasinauyo family and his friends following the tragic news.”
Malawian football agent Felix Sapao said he was in shock.
“I can’t believe what I am hearing, he was a young man who always strived to do more for the game and we are poorer without him and it’s a shock to football not only in Zimbabwe but across Southern Africa,’’ said Sapao. The Herald