Former Highlanders captain Gilbert Banda has reunited with his former championship-winning coach Methembe Ndlovu at Zifa Southern Region Division One football outfit Bantu Rovers.
The pair won the league title in 2006 in Ndlovu’s first coaching job in Zimbabwe. Banda joined FC Platinum at the beginning of the year, but was a regular benchwarmer until his release in June.
Bantu secretary Wilbert Sibanda confirmed the development to NewsDay Sport yesterday.
“Gilbert Banda has joined Bantu Rovers. We managed to beat the registration deadline last night (Tuesday). I cannot reveal the terms of the contract, but he has joined us,” he said.
Banda had been linked with a move to Castle Lager Premier Soccer League side Chicken Inn, a return to Highlanders and was also reported to be on the verge of clinching a deal with defending Premiership champions Dynamos.
Sibanda said the club had decided to take Banda, the first Zimbabwe captain at the inaugural African Nations Championships finals in 2009, on board because of his vast experience.
“We hope that his experience will help us achieve our goal of winning the championship. Every player wants to be associated with a winning team and we want to win the championship. Methembe Ndlovu also worked with Banda at Highlanders, he knows what type of player he is. Banda has the experience and will lead his teammates,” he said.
Banda yesterday confirmed the move to Bantu Rovers.
“I have opted to play in the Division One League with Bantu Rovers because I want to gain match fitness.
“I have not been playing, so I thought it was not proper for me to join a team like Highlanders because there will be a lot of pressure as I will be expected to gel in with the other players,” he said.
“I might be back in the Premiership next year. I will see how everything goes, maybe Bantu Rovers might be promoted.
“I think that my experience will help Bantu Rovers and also boost the morale of the team.”
Banda had been a pillar of Highlanders defence for more than a decade before his move to last year’s Premiership runners-up Platinum where he joined his former coach Rahman Gumbo.
He is reported to have fallen out of favour with the ever-demanding Platinum management committee when the club lost 3-1 to Highlanders in Mandava in May.
Banda had a nightmarish start in the game and was pulled out in the first half.
He had to fight for a jersey with Daniel Vheremu, Norman Togara and Zephaniah Ngodzo, while the coming-in of Zambian import Frank Mlambo seemed to have further sidelined him.
Bantu lead the Zifa Division One League with 37 points from 17 games, one point ahead of How Mine.
Bantu, coached by another former Highlanders mentor Reuben Tsengwa, is also home to former Warriors midfielder Johannes Ngodzo.