By Lot Chitakasha
“I decided to take a step back from all things football and concentrate on my farming. I am into Dairy
Farming on a large scale, I also breed 10, 000 chickens at any given time. My wife helps me on the
administrative side but I also employ a manager and 15 employees. This is a successful venture and I
These words coming from former Caps United tough tackling defender Charles Sibanda was sweet
music in my ears. Often enough I read about former legends who have fallen on dire straits, some
even send SOS messages on social media and in the press. To therefore talk to a legend who is doing
well post retirement is a cause for celebration.
The legend has made such an impact to the extent that he has been elected the Chairperson of the Marirangwe Dairy Farmers Association. This is no mean achievement.
But who is this legend with the interesting nickname, “Raw Meat” and how did it come about. Charles, whose football career spanned for 14 years from 1971 to 1985 is one of the top defenders
to grace our fields before and after independence.
The Nation of Zimbabwe has been blessed with many top defenders. From the tough tackling ones like Shadreck “Margarine “ Ngwenya, Salad Twaliki, Douglas “ British” Mloyi, the man marking ones like Sunday Marimo , Dumisani “Commando” Mpofu to the ice cool ball playing ones like Alexander “ Cool Ruler” Maseko, Ernest “Mr. Cool” Mutano and the late Rodrick “Doctor” Muganhiri.
We have had them all! This calls for a separate article and when that article is written, the name Charles Sibanda will be on the list. Charles Sibanda started his career with Castle Lions in 1971 in the under 16 team. The club later became Salisbury Sables. Some of his teammates back them were Bernard Dzingayi, Galloway and Steve Kwashi among others.
“We were part of a well organised junior structure. This is something that we have lost. In the past players moved through the junior teams to the Reserve sides before settling in the first team. We need to revisit this,” stressed the legend.
After his stint with the juniors, Charles then played for various lower league teams before moving to
Hippo Valley from 1976 to 1978. At Hippo Valley apart from establishing himself as a top defender,
he was also employed as an administrator. This helped to prepare him for his future roles in life.
It was however at Caps United that Charles played his best football. He joined the team in 1979, and
the team was crowned champions in the same year. He earned the nickname “Raw Meat” for his
toughness in the heart of defence.
The legend was versatile and would play at left back, centre back and even as a defensive link man. He was also called to the National team and earned numerous caps but faced competition from the likes of Sunday Chidzambwa then known as Marimo and Ephert Lungu. He still managed 8 full caps but always part of the team when they assembled.
About Caps United the legend had this to say;
“It is difficult for a team to be perfect but the Caps United team from 1979 to the early 80’s was almost perfect. My partner in defence William Chikauro was an intelligent defender, the Joel Shambo and Stix Mtizwa combination in midfield was a combination made in heaven, Stanley Ndunduma was intelligent and a game changer, while Shackman Tauro was simply a goal machine. These were the spine, but everyone was just superb. On our day we were unstoppable.”
I concur with the legend, it was my privilege to watch this team train and play. The team made me fall in love with football. It was a team which had some super players, the golden generation of Zimbabwe football.
At Caps United, Charles worked under the leadership of Obediah “ Wasu “ Sarupinda, Lovemore “
Mukadota “ Nyabeza and Ashton “ Papa” Nyazika.
“The three had different qualities, Sarupinda was a father figure, he created a family atmosphere at the club. At times, he even led us in prayer and this made us feel invincible. He also played some mind games. During one cup final, he brought a little bird which he released into the Vietnam end at Rufaro Stadium. The Dynamos fans tried to kill the bird, but it flew away.
“The Dynamos fans thought this was a bad omen and true enough we went on to beat them 3-1. There was no juju but Wasu was just using psychology. Ashton Nyazika was a good talker, he simply trusted the ability of his players, when the going got tough he would simply say.. Stixe, you are a good player, what is going on? Shacky, get us some goals.. Nyabeza always encouraged us.” he said.
Despite the array of talent, Caps United were unable to replicate their championship winning form
of 1979. Charles blames this on inconsistency and complacency. The team however became masters
of knockout competitions earning the moniker Cup Kings. The league championship was dominated
by Dynamos during this era.
In 1985 Charles left Harare for Bulawayo to take up a senior position as a Personnel manager. This
also marked the start of his coaching career with Archer Stars. He also coached Eagles FC where he
worked with dribbling wizard Boy Ndlovu. “Boy was a great player, one of the best, with a little bit of
luck, he would have played abroad”.
Raw Meat’s coaching career also took him to Botswana where he coached Tafik Stars and Gaborone
United. He returned home in 1996 and coached Arcadia and Air Zimbabwe. While at Air Zimbabwe,
he signed Benjani Mwaruwari from the University of Zimbabwe FC.
In the many football discussions that I have had, some self- proclaimed experts have tended to doubt Benjani’s talents . I put this to the legend and he said;
“Benjani had strength, speed and was able to distribute the ball well. His runs off the ball were intelligent, unselfish and created space for others. Above all, he showed commitment and showed character in tough situations. That was why he played for so long for the big teams like Manchester City” said the legend. There you have all you football fundis, hear it from the legend himself.
I also asked the unavoidable question, “Where to Zimbabwe football, where are we headed?” The
answer was short and to the point, an answer already given by all the other legends like Tendai
Chieza, Bernard Zikhali, Musareka Janitala, Francis Nechironga whom I have already interviewed
here , “There are no shortcuts in football, we need to go back to basics and above all we need a
leadership that understands football.”, he reiterated. I would not agree more!
Legend Charles Sibanda who is married to his wife Judy of 35 years, is open to a return to football in
any capacity, “I have a lot to offer, I have the experience, I have confidence in my administrative
skills, but for now let me concentrate on the farm” I could not argue with that, I just hope it will be
soon . Zimbabwe football can benefit from a man with such vast experience. I keep my fingers