from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – AFTER a horrendous spell, characterised by a mysterious groin injury that has kept him out for ten months and the closure of borders that saw him “stuck” in Zimbabwe, Ronald Pfumbidzai has bounced back.
The first-choice Bloemfontein Celtic left back is eager to make up for lost time.
This as he has returned to South Africa following the reopening of borders and fully recovering from his lengthy injury setback, ahead of the new season.
The 25-year-old flying fullback has not kicked a ball in a competitive match since sustaining what later emerged as sportsman hernia in December, after a game against then-log leaders, Kaizer Chiefs.
Phunya Sele Sele, as Bloemfontein Celtic is widely known in football circles eventually lost the league’s joint-highest goal scoring fixture of the season 3-5 but Pfumbidzai paid the price for playing through the pain.
It would turn out to be his last game for the campaign (he was yellow-carded late into the encounter).
In an interview with CAJ News Africa, the man from Harare relived the pain, which looks highly probable was a result of a packed schedule for club and country, including the 20019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.
The groin strain worsened in November.
“It (the groin strain) was on and off but I was now feeling sharp pain on that area (groin). Even when I coughed or sneezed, I would feel sharp pain. The pain was too much, even when sleeping,” Pfumbidzai said.
Against Chiefs, the groin caved in, forcing the player to undergo surgery.
The sealing of the Beitbridge border post and airspaces by South Africa and Zimbabwe in March, to curb the coronavirus (COVID-19) eruption, meant the player could not return to Celtic to complete his rehabilitation.
He recently travelled back after South Africa eased the border restrictions under Level One in October.
“It was tough but thank God, I’m back,” Pfumbidzai said relievedly.
His return is a boost ahead of Celtic’s MTN 8 encounter away to treble holders, Mamelodi Sundowns, on Sunday and the opening DStv Premiership fixture against Golden Arrows next Saturday.
He would like to see Celtic “finishing in better position than last season and win a trophy” this campaign.
Finishing eighth, reaching the Nedbank Cup final and recording the biggest home victory across the entire league (5-0 against Arrows) was somewhat an overachievement given Celtic’s off-field crises.
Pfumbidzai is aware he will not stroll straight back into the starting XI but retains confidence. Sifiso Ngobeni, and to a less extent, Sello Matjila, filled the left back slot in his absence.
“Winning back the position is not an issue,” he assured.
“Football is all about competition. So, for each and every game, to play, I have to train well. As long as I’m fit, I will take care of everything,” Pfumbidzai said.
He is also itching to don the Zimbabwe national team jersey again now that international fixtures have resumed.
Coincidentally, South Africa and Zimbabwe are in the same World Cup 2022 qualifying group, alongside Ethiopia and Ghana.
“I think its always every player’s dream to represent his country. I am blessed I have managed to. I just want to help my nation to keep improving,” Pfumbidzai concluded.
– CAJ News