CUTHBERT MALAJILA spent only FIVE minutes on the field in the just-ended South African Premiership campaign, but that was still good enough to win him a FIFTH Super Diski championship medal, in what has been an extraordinary personal collection of titles.
The Zimbabwe international forward, who turns 34 on October 3, this year, has now won FIVE of the last SIX championship titles in the South African Premiership, and got a runners-up medal in the season his team were not crowned champions four years ago.
Every team he has played for, since leaving Maritzburg United six years ago to join Sundowns, has been crowned champions of the South African top-flight league, except the 2014-2015 season.
In that campaign, Kaizer Chiefs took the honours and the Brazilians finished in second place.
Given he won the domestic league championship in his final season with Dynamos, in 2011, Malajila has now won six titles, on both sides of the Limpopo River, in the past nine seasons.
His barren spell, when he didn’t collect a championship medal, came in the two years he spent at Maritzburg United and when Sundowns finished second in 2015.
The five championship medals in South Africa have made Malajila the most decorated Zimbabwean footballer in Super Diski but questions keep being asked about where this will place him, in terms of greatness, among the locals who plied their trade in that country.
‘’Thanks and praise to God, you made it possible Father God,’’ he tweeted. ‘’I’m grateful for the talent, grateful for your works, you made me believe in myself, Glory to You.
‘’Story of my life, fought so many battles, some I won, some I lost but you won’t understand, am grateful Papa God, (I) give thanks and praise to you My provider, Father God.
‘’God, it’s only because of you, thank you for (that), wherever you send me, we win. Five PSL championships, we give thanks to the Almighty for it’s only because of you Father God.’’
However, for Malajila, there are many who question his legacy despite the huge collection of league title medals at his house which shows the success story he has written in the South African Premiership.
In a game where securing the championship is the be-all-and-end-all, in the quest for greatness, Malajila finds himself confronted by a number of hostile questions about whether he can really be called a truly Zimbabwean football great among the locals who played in Super Diski?
And, after securing his fifth championship medal on Saturday when Sundowns edged Free State Stars, a number of questions started circulating on social media about how his latest success story should be celebrated?
Some fans even wondered how Malajila could be handed a league championship medal at Sundowns this season given the limited time he was involved in the campaign. And, an analysis of his campaign in Super Diski, tells an interesting story:
Malajila featured in just five minutes of action for Sundowns, in the just-ended league campaign, with four of those minutes coming in time added on.
The veteran forward was thrown into the only game he featured in, with just a minute of regulation time remaining, on January 22, this year, at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa during the league match between Sundowns and Highlands Park.
Malajila was introduced in the 89th minute of that game, for Thapelo Morena, with Sundowns leading Highlands Park 2-1, which was the eventual score at the end of the game, and he played in the four minutes of time added on during that match.
It’s the only action, in the league, which Malajila saw in the 30 league matches which the Brazilians played during the season in which they won the league by two points.
Six days before that match, Malajila was an unused substitute in the 1-0 win over Maritzburg United at Loftus on January 16, 2019, with captain Hlompo Kekana scoring the priceless goal.
Last season, Malajila also picked the league championship medal with Sundowns but after having made only two league appearances for the Brazilians and without a goal, just like this campaign, for the Brazilians.
The time spent on the pitch, last season, by the striker amounted to 36 minutes, which means that, in the past two seasons, he has played 41 minutes for Sundowns and picked two championship-winners medals.
And, there are some voices, who have been questioning that since Saturday.
‘’He has medals but we never see him playing,’’ said Tinashe Evis Magama, on Twitter. ‘’In terms of the club, if it’s winning, then it means that’s the greatest.’’
But, Malajila is adamant he deserves his medals.
‘’The medals, how many are you talking (about) my (brother)?’’ he asked in response to Magama’s tweet. ‘’I never contributed (this season), by the way, I played one game and (was) on the bench once.
‘’All my medals, I have contributed but, if you say for this season, maybe you will understand but if you check all my accolades I have contributed more than 70 percent of the games.’’
And the striker has many fans, like Jeranyika Tambaoga, also fighting in his corner.
‘’There are people, whose only source of Diski news is Zimbabwe newspapers, who are trashing your performances over the years,’’ tweeted Tambaoga.
‘’Your performance might not have been recorded there but those that hand these titles know that you have put in a minimum level of effort to get one.’’
And Zimbabwe Newspapers journalist, Makomborero Mutimukulu, has also been singing in Malajila’s corner.
‘’If medals measure greatness, then Carzola is a legend,’’ he tweeted. ‘’How he got to that table is inconsequential. He was part of the Sundowns team that won the title and no one can dispute that.
‘’Debate on what he contributed and did not contribute is extras only.’’
And, another fan, Freedom Mutepe, agrees. ‘’Ten years from now, with the medals on his cupboard, there won’t be anyone to tell the new generation that he was not playing,’’ he tweeted.
‘’Okocha, he was so good but his medals do not speak volumes about his performance.’’
Malajila arrived at Sundowns on July 1, 2013, and made 22 league appearances that season, scored six goals, provided three assists and spent 1 188 minutes on the pitch and, the following season, he made 26 appearances, scored 10 goals, provided five assists and provided 1766 minutes of contribution to the team’s cause.
In the 2015-2016 season, he made 13 appearances, scored two goals in 513 minutes and was loaned to Bidvest Wits where he made 25 appearances and scored four goals as this team also won the championship.
However, in the last two seasons, he has made two appearances in the 2017-2018 campaign and one substitute appearance, in the just-ended campaign, and on both occasions he collected a league championship-winners medal.