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How Bunjira recovered from career-threatening tackle

By Grace Chingoma

Following a career-threatening injury at his speedy, goal-scoring peak in the trailblazing 1996 CAPS United team’s history defining season, Alois Bunjira says he thought his football career was over, but the full recovery and award winning season he clocked the next season remains a highlight of his life and career.

Former Wits University and Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Alois Bunjira
Former Wits University and Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Alois Bunjira

Bunjira was injured in July 1996 during a match against Dynamos following a tackle by Kaitano Tembo that fractured his leg.

But Bunjira bounced back and even posted credible statistics after his rehabilitation.

Bunjira revealed that coach Roy Barreto was one of the people who gave him strength during that dark time.

“When I got injured in July of 1996 I was devastated.

“Initially, l thought I would never play football again. But the doctor reassured me that I would be back. Roy Barreto also played a big part in assuring me that I would be back when I met him at One Commando for a friendly match.

“With those words I took my rehabilitation seriously and it was intense.”

After a lay off of eight months the former Blackpool hitman returned stronger to win the Golden Boot award with 25 goals.

He claims he believes he even broke a record along the way.

“I recovered and came back strongly in March 1997. I know in Zimbabwe, we don’t really keep records but I scored in two friendly matches after my recovery and went on to score in eight consecutive matches for CAPS United, which I think could be a record.

“It was a great comeback and a serious relief.

“I went on to become the top goal-scorer in the country that year with 25 goals as well as being the Kingsgate Premier League Player of the Year. l was also the top scorer and player of the tournament in the BP League Cup.

“I could not have asked for a better bounce back. Unfortunately, I also injured my knee with about six matches to go to the end of that season,” recounts Bunjira.

The former Wits striker says he was humbled by the recognition he received from South African veteran coach Roger de Sa who mentioned the Zimbabwean legend as the best number 10 he ever coached.

“Honestly speaking, I feel so humbled and honoured to be endorsed by a great coach who I think is one of the best in South Africa.

“I agree I had a great time but obviously for a coach who coached a number of top sides in South Africa, he came across many good players. But for him to pick me as his best number 10 ever, it was awesome.

“That was a great endorsement and final icing to my football career.

“He described me as one who had special feet and had ability to glide with the ball. Those are great superlatives.

“Of course, I loved scoring goals and I scored a handsome amount for him at Bidvest Wits FC. It is a great honour. It makes me believe I played my part well,” said Bunjira.

Bunjira, who is also a certified life skills coach, believes his son Tinashe Junior has what it takes to become a good footballer.

The 17-year-old is on a football scholarship at Oswestry School in England where he is doing his Advanced Level after he was picked from Prince Edward School.

“I am glad I passed that on to my son. He is super quick, skillful, great technique, great balance and can score goals,” said Bunjira. The Herald