When people talk about Warriors legend Peter Ndlovu — the man with 100 caps and an all time scoring record of 38 goals — people forget to mention the name Ali “Baba” Dube.
The great yesteryear Highlanders Football Club which had abundant silverware on their shelves was his progeny.
And yes, Peter, despite coming through Mzilikazi High School, is his best-known product.
One cannot talk of Tshilamoya, without mentioning the name of successful juniors coach Ali, who apprenticed many great names in the football fraternity in Zimbabwe.
NewsDay Sport yesterday caught up with Ali Baba, who returned to be Highlanders’ juniors coach after a decade with Railstars from 1999 to 2009.
Born on December 6 1947, in Bulawayo, Ali Baba began his juniors coaching career after being conscripted into the Highlanders’ youth technical team when he was playing for High City coach at the time, Mackenzie Sibanda.
“I used to play for High City in 1975, with the likes of Kainos Luphahla when Mackenzie Sibanda, who was the then Highlanders juniors coach, asked me to come in and help and that was a start to my coaching career at Bosso. At the time I coached the likes of Msitheli Sikhosana and David Mahlangu before Peter Nkomo and Eddie Kuba,” Dube said.
The juniors’ coach says he is back at Highlanders to produce the type of cream that he used to during his time.
He said the iconic Nsukuzonke’s success was due to discipline, the reason for his promotion to the Highlanders senior team in the early 1990s and his later success in the world of football.
“Peter had discipline. He was not lazy. He used to train at school, finish his assignments at school and then would come down to train once more with us at Highlanders. He was committed to the game. That was the reason he made it to the first team when he was 15 years old — but I can’t exactly remember the year.
“I told Barry Daka (former Highlanders coach) to take him when we were playing Aces in Harare. He came in with 15 minutes remaining and he scored two goals when we were trailing 2-0 and we drew. That was how he made it to the first team,” Dube said.
Dube said a lot was lacking in junior football development nowadays which he attributed to meddling with the technical teams by executives.
“All is well, but there is too much meddling with coaches by officials. You see, long ago the head coach of the team would approach me and say: ‘Would you look for boys who can make it into the first team?’ but it’s not like that anymore. You just hear that a boy has been signed.
“There is too much interference. I remember when there was Bobby Clark (former Highlanders coach), I would second the players to him and he would not question my decisions. That was the time when I gave him Willard (Khumalo) and Netsai (Moyo). There is a big difference now,” Dube said.
Dube said he is back at Highlanders to revive the vibrant junior policy as most of his players that won the championships from the Under-14, 16 and 18 age groups crossed the floor and joined Bantu Rovers and he was building new teams.
Beside Nsukuzonke, great players like his brothers Madinda and Adam, Khumalo, Nhamo Shambira, the late Benjamin “Makanakky” Nkonjera, Mercedes “Rambo” Sibanda, Ronnie Jowa and Nkululeko Dlodlo, to mention but a few, went through Ali Baba’s hands.
Madinda is now the Warriors acting head coach while Rambo and Makanakky, who also starred for the Warriors have passed on while Moyo is the Bantu Rovers general manager.