WHEN he first broke into the national team he was hailed as the next Norman Mapeza. A holding midfielder blessed with astounding abilities. The comparison was not off the mark. The comfort on the ball was similar, the coolness, the calmness and the collected manner was hard not to compare.
The bravery in the tackle, the eye for goals and that killer pass made sure that Esrom Nyandoro was regarded as the rock of the national team after many had tried with little but with little success.
Here was an extraordinary, almost the perfect national team midfield hybrid. He displayed the passing brain of Ronald Sibanda, the surging forward drive of Mapeza himself and the tackling power of Lloyd Chitembwe.
It came as no surprise when South African giants, Mamelodi Sundowns came knocking and snapped him with ease, thanks to the mega bucks of their wealthy owner, Patrice Motsepe.
What followed was assured performance after assured performance, the South African premier league was held spellbound. It was not surprising when he won the Rookie of the Year award in his first season there and was in the running for the league’s player of the year numerous times.
The dazzling performances not only won him adulation and accolades but caught the eye of English Premier League teams such as Fulham, Bolton Wonderers and Sheffield United.
The attraction did not materialise into a transfer but that did not take away the fact that Nyandoro was a talent. The undoubted talent saw his trade mark booming shot against
at the 2004 African Cup of Nations winning him the goal of the tournament. Cameroon
But the 2011-2012 season, has not started well for him. He has been relegated to the bench by Surprise Moriri, a striker who has been converted into a defensive midfielder. But, full marks to him, he has refused to throw in the towel and has declared that he is going to fight it out to regain his place among the privileged 11.
The story is the same with the national team. He has lost the favour of Mapeza who now prefers Tinashe Nengomasha. What makes the situation worse is that the national team coaches have dropped him from the Warriors’ squad altogether.
Suddenly Nyandoro is not so quite convincing and the excuse used is that he is no longer able to cope with the pace of the game is his undoing. It is said he now comes up short against teams that play direct football.
His downward curve is hard to ignore because Nyandoro is a once in a lifetime player. Players like him are hard to find. It is not every day that a defensive midfielder is blessed with a crafty-deadly pass and a brutal eye for goals.
For many the demise of Nyandoro is a cataclysmic capitulation so bad that it still almost defies belief.
Thumps up to him for refusing to give up the ghost at the first sign that the end is near, the determination to linger on as long as possible and the defiance have always been synonymous with Nyandoro.
But he needs to realise and accept that he is now in the summit of his career and walk away from Sundowns if he still desires to play regularly and to be recalled to the national team. For if he stay there someone will put the old warrior out of his misery.
But there is still hope for the 31-year-old. By football standards he still has the legs to carry him for a few more years and the talent to silence his critics.
It is the fighting spirit of the man that has seen him rule out a move from Sundowns, he does not want it dictated to him; he will leave when he wants to leave, so Moriri must not rest on his laurels because Nyandoro still has it.
And he must use it ruthlessly because failure to shame his critics will see him reluctantly falling on his sword and Moriri making the holding position his own.
If Nyandoro unravels that pit in his gut, he is going to blow people away. The only obstacle in his way is his confidence, which was undone by being dropped from the Warriors and Moriri’s elevation. If he overcomes that psychological hurdle, he will certainly make his critics eat the proverbial humble pie.