Mbabane: Gcina ‘Kwere’ Mazibuko, one of the few versatile players to play in the elite league over a period of 17 years was a hard worker, determined and born leader.
After starting his career as a right winger in the then Mhlambanyatsi Rovers dubbed ‘School of Excellence’, ‘Kwere’ went on to enjoy a trophy laden period with police ensemble Royal Leopard before short-as-sneeze stints with crowd pullers Manzini Wanderers and Red Lions. Talk of a man who has achieved it all, four MTN League titles, one with the star studded ‘Pythagoras Rule’ of Rovers and the rest with Leopard, an EswatiniBank Cup gold medal with the police side; he also formed an integral part of the senior national team Sihlangu.
In 2008 when Sihlangu recorded their most famous victory under South African strategist Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, beating an Emmanuel Adebayor-led Togo in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, ‘Kwere’ was the man who delivered the searching cross that was met by the head of Coleen Salelwako for Sihlangu’s opener in the 2-1 win in front of a packed Somhlolo National Stadium.
When he burst to the scene with a youthful Rovers side coached by Gcina ‘Magiyane’ Dlamini, ‘Kwere’ played with the cream of the crop that was in the form of bulky striker Mfanzile ‘Fash’ Dlamini, wing wizard Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze, midfield kingpin Manqoba ‘Dunga’ Kunene and that walking football brainbox Lwazi ‘Zidane’ Maziya but he reckons one player from that group, Sifiso ‘Mangweni’ Zwane was destined for great heights only for his progress to be hampered by injuries. He describes ‘Mangweni’ as a gem and is saddened the diminutive winger never reached his full potential.
After winning everything Eswatini football could offer while appearing in the blue and white of Leopard, ‘Kwere’ finally secured his dream move to Manzini Wanderers, the club he supported growing up. Having switched from right wing to right back in his last few seasons at Leopard, with all the experience, ‘Kwere’ was constantly utilized at centre-back now, pairing with his former Rovers teammate Lwazi ‘Shana’ Maziya.
He went on to retire at former premier league outfit Red Lions but ‘Kwere’ remains a rare gem that lived for what football great Pele of Brazil described as ‘The beautiful game’. We caught up with ‘Kwere’ in a rewind of his blossoming career and he shared some of insight we never knew…
INDEPENDENT NEWS: ‘Kwere’ thank you so much for your time and welcome to our pages
Before everything, you were part of the Mhlambanyatsi Rovers squad dubbed ‘School of Excellence’, what made that team so special?
KWERE MAZIBUKO: It’s my pleasure my brother. Mhlambanyatsi Rovers was a very special team. What a team, we were united my brother. There was no division among the players; the spirit was good such that we had no hard feelings if you did not play. It was always fair competition and everyone was fighting to be in the starting team on match day. We made selection difficult for the coach and we had such a fantastic time there.
IN: You have won a lot of trophies, individually and as a team, also played in many memorable games but which moment in football you can describe as your best?
KM: That is a difficult one but my best has to be when we won the MTN League three times in a row while at Leopard. That was quite a great achievement for the group.
IN: Who is the best player you have played with in your glittering career?
KM: Quite a lot but Lwazi ‘Zidane’ Maziya and Norman ‘Maje’ Nkambule was special in a way. They made playing football look easy.
IN: Which former teammate you feel never reached his full potential and why?
KM: Sifiso ‘Mangweni’ Zwane was a gem destined for great things. I think injuries hampered his progress.
IN: Which team did you support growing up?
KM: Manzini Wanderers
IN: Which move you made in your career that you regret?
KM: None. All moves made were well calculated and had reasons behind.
IN: Who was your naughtiest teammate?
KM: Absalom ‘ABSA’ Dlamini. There was never a dull moment with him around.
IN: Who is your favourite player currently?
KM: Ncamiso ‘Mbhonyo’ Dlamini. He has shown over many seasons, competing with best goalkeepers that he remains an asset with Leopard. I was happy when he was finally called up into the senior national team Sihlangu for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
IN: Which coach you feel contributed immensely in your career and why?
KM: Gcina ‘Magiyane’ Dlamini, He believed in us even though we were young when we burst to the scene at Rovers, He did not want lazy players, and for him the most important thing was hard work all the time
IN: Just towards the end of your career, you faced a lot of reported challenges off the field. Can you explain some to your fans and how you handled it?
KM: Eish my brother, can I not respond to this one.
IN: How can you compare the current standard of our premier league compared to back then?
KM: The standard of football has improved my brother. A lot has changed in the game in terms of balanced competition in the sense that anyone can now win the league or a major tournament for example back then it was two or three teams winning trophies with one surprise team popping up once in a while.
KWERE’S BEST XI FROM FORMER TEAMMATES:
Ncamiso ‘Mbonyo’ Dlamini
Mpendulo ‘Biano’ Kunene
Mxolisi ‘Stopper’ Mtsetfwa
Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko
Lwazi ‘Zidane’ Maziya
Mfanzile ‘Fash’ Dlamini
Manqoba ‘Dunga’ Kunene
Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze
Name: Gcina Derrick Mazibuko
Best boots: Nike mercurial
Former teams: Rail United, Mhlambanyatsi Rovers, Royal Leopard, Manzini Wanderers, Red Lions
Honours: Trade Fair Cup (Rovers), MTN League (X1 with Rovers, X3 with Leopard), Eswatini Bank Cup (with Leopard)
Best dish: Rice and chicken
Occupation: Self employed
Favourite local player: Tony Tsabedze
Favourite international player: N’galo Kante