Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
TWENTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD ex-Orlando Pirates development star Rodi Sibanda left the country yesterday for Botswana where he has reportedly found home at ambitious Premiership side Sua Flamingoes.
The striker spent the better part of the 2021/22 Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League season on loan from Highlanders at relegated Bulawayo City where he made 17 appearances, coming from the bench. Despite limited game time, Sibanda scored one goal and had two assists from two starts against Cranborne Bullets and ZPC Kariba.
Impeccable sources said Sibanda opted for Botswana’s topflight side ahead of Pretoria Callies who are in South Africa’s First Division as he felt he can rejuvenate his career better at Sua Flamingoes.
The sources said Sibanda impressed at Sua Flamingoes trials in December which came after he had made the grade at Pretoria Callies.
“Rodi left the country today to do medicals and obtain a work permit in Botswana after impressing during trials. After the Zimbabwean season ended, he first went to Pretoria Callies where he made the grade and decided against rushing as he had to go to Botswana for another trial stint in which he impressed. He decided to join Sua Flamingoes who made a good offer and the environment is suitable for him to re-launch his career,” the source said.
Sibanda had seen his career, which appeared to be on the rise taking a knock. In 2019, the striker seemed destined for big things after he won the Golden Boot at the Pirates Cup where he scored 12 goals in six matches.
A product of the Orlando Pirates Academy, the then 19-year-old Sibanda was rewarded with a cash prize of R5 000 as well as a one-year supply of boots from Adidas South Africa.
Unfortunately for Sibanda, he was one of the 12 players released by the Buccaneers from the club’s junior teams in June 2019.
Instead of looking for a lower division team in South Africa, Sibanda who has a fine, intimidating athletic body, took a gamble to move to Zimbabwe in efforts to re-launch his career. He was quickly snapped up by Zimbabwean giants Highlanders at the end of 2019, but the global pandemic Covid-19 struck, forcing suspension of the Zimbabwean Premier League in 2020.
That was the beginning of Sibanda’s setback as he stayed for two years without playing and
when Zimbabwe’s topflight football activities resumed in June 2021, the Orlando Pirates graduate struggled to regain his form.
At Highlanders, Sibanda could not compete against strikers Stanley Ngala, Lynoth Chikuhwa and Washington Navaya.
Contacted for comment, Sibanda confirmed heading to Botswana but declined to reveal his destination.
“It’s true that I’m on my way to Botswana but I can’t share the details of my destination as that will be announced by the club itself. If I manage to get all the paperwork sorted in time, I should be playing my first game on January 7,” said Sibanda.
Sua Flamingoes, 10th on the Botswana Premier League with nine points in the nine league matches they have played, face Botswana Defence Forces XI at VTDM Stadium on January 7. — @ZililoR