Former Flames and Mighty Wanderers midfielder Hendrix ‘Nguli’ Banda, who died on Friday, will be buried today at his home in Dowa District.
According to Former Football Players Association (FFPA) chairperson Ojukwu Malunga, Banda passed on at Kasungu District Hospital after succumbing to kidney failure.
“He had been on-and-off for quite a while and last month his condition deteriorated,” said Malunga.
Banda, 45, rose to become one of the best midfielders to emerge on the domestic scene in the 1990s and at the peak of his career, he starred for South African outfit Jomo Cosmos.
He played in the Flames midfield, arguably one of the best on the continent, comprising Ernest ‘Wire’ Mtawali, Chance ‘Vinny’ Gondwe, Wilfred Nyalugwe and the late Dave Maleta.
A scorer of spectacular goals at both club and national duty, Banda is fondly remembered for his goal against Zimbabwe team that featured revered former Liverpool goalminder Bruce Globelaar in a 1994 Afcon qualifier which ended 1-all in Harare. The then Zimbabwe and Coventry forward Peter Ndlovu, scored for the hosts.
Apart from Wanderers, on the local scene, Banda’s career blossomed at Spearhead before he moved to MDC United. His brother Hacklin also had a stint with the Flames and Wanderers.
Mtawali paid an emotional tribute to the departed former midfielder describing him as a genius.
“He was a complete player, somebody who felt at ease with the ball and in my own humble analysis, I would compare him with (Austin) Jay Jay Okocha and Chance Gondwe.
“I am very saddened by his demise,” said the former Europe-based midfielder who is now coach of the junior Flames.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, who also played alongside Banda at Wanderers and in the national team, described his demise as a great loss.
“It’s a great loss not only to the soccer fraternity, but to the nation as well. He was an asset because even after his retirement from active football, he continued to contribute towards the development of the game by coaching upcoming talent. My thoughts are with his family during this trying period,” said Nyamilandu.
Cosmos local agent Ben Chiwaya, who facilitated Banda’s deal at Cosmos, also said he was shocked with the former soccer star’s demise.
“What a player he was! He was very committed and disciplined,” said Chiwaya.
And in this world of information technology, Google search engines testify ones’ greatness. That is why Banda’s name can still be found on international news website www.africa.upenn.edu in an article published in 1996.