|Cosmas 'Tsano' Zulu|
January 8, 1950
|Education||Gaths Mine Primary School|
|Alma mater||Mavuradonha Secondary School|
|Years active||1967 to Current|
|Employer||Ngezi Platinum F.C.|
Born in Masvingo on 8 January 1950, Zulu did his primary education in Gaths Mine where his father used to work and that is where he started playing football as a striker for the school team. After his father retired, the family moved to Mount Darwin in Mashonaland Central Province where Zulu did his secondary education at Mavuradonha Secondary School. It was, however, in Bulawayo, where Zulu’s fledgling football career flourished after relocating to the City of Kings in 1967 to stay with his sister.
A week or so in Bulawayo in 1967, his sister took him to Barbourfields Stadium and introduced him to the chairman of a team that was training there on one of the outside grounds. He played for that team for a year or so in the Bulawayo Amateur Football Association ranks before joining Bush Bucks where he played alongside [ex-Bulawayo Wanderers and Eagles FC player] Charles Wadawu (late).
From Bush Bucks he played for Eastern Midlands and later joined Eastlands in 1973 where he played alongside the late greats, Daniel “Dididi” Ncube and Tymon “The White Horse” Mabaleka. After leaving Eastlands, Zulu moved to Olympics in 1977, where he linked up with the likes of Barry Daka and Isaac Mafaro, who had quit Highlanders to form their own team. Two years later Zulu joined Mashonaland United, later known as Zimbabwe Saints Football Club, and played for one season before packing his bags to join Highlanders Football Club in 1980.
At Highlanders Zulu reunited with Mabaleka and played alongside the likes of Josiah Nxumalo and Mark Watson among a host of other yesteryear greats. It was while at Bosso that he was introduced to coaching by Scotsman Bobby Clark who took charge of Highlanders in 1983.
His relationship with Highlanders dates back to 1981 when he joined them as a player. He was then appointed an assistant coach before taking up the post of technical manager until 1995. He won everything with Highlanders and they also sent him to an advanced coaching course where he was attached to Coventry City (former club to Peter Ndlovu).
In 1983 Bobby Clark came in as Highlanders coach and the executive wanted Lawrence Phiri to assist Clark but there was a fracas during one of their games which led to Phiri being suspended and Clark chose Zulu to be his assistant. Having found a team that was largely made up of veterans, Clark introduced junior players who included the likes of the late Bosso and Warriors legend Willard Khumalo, Netsai Moyo and the late Nhamo Shambira. That move did not immediately bear fruit and the team struggled a lot and became relegation candidates.
“I remember one day after having played well but lost away to Rio Tinto in Kadoma, some of our supporters verbally attacked me and Bobby Clark in the team bus on our way back — as back in the day the supporters would travel in the same bus with the team — accusing us of being incompetent. The following day there was a protest by the fans at the club offices which were on Lobengula Street back then and I had to persuade Clark not to quit his position,” Zulu said.
Soon after that incident, the team’s fortunes improved and Highlanders went on to survive relegation. The following year after expatriate Clark had returned to Scotland, the Bosso leadership asked Zulu to take over as head coach but he declined and requested that Daka should be engaged as the new head coach.
“I was man enough to admit that I was inexperienced and although the leadership was reluctant to hire Barry, who they felt had turned his back on the team back in the late 70s, I convinced them to take him on board as he had had some experience in coaching as player/coach at Olympics,” Zulu said.
Using the drills that he learnt from Clark, Zulu and Daka went on to lift the Chibuku Trophy in 1984. Many more accolades were to follow and over the years Zulu went on to win everything on offer in the local game with Highlanders and later with other teams. In 1995 Zulu left Highlanders and went to coach AmaZulu, with whom he won the league title in 2003. He has also worked for Railstars, Zimbabwe Saints, Quelaton, Zim Leopards, Sizane and Talen Vision as a coach. He also coached in Botswana where he was in charge of Botswana Meat Commission.
“My biggest regret is that as much as I have accumulated so many medals; financially I never gained anything from football. Yes, when I was with AmaZulu I was earning good money but unfortunately you know what happened with the country’s economy,” Zulu said.
Exactly 19 years after parting ways with Highlanders, veteran coach Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu bounced back at the Bulawayo giants in 2014 as the technical advisor to the bench led by caretaker coach Mark Mathe after the departure of Kelvin Kaindu. His appointment was with immediate effect and he was to be part of the coaching structure that was to lead Highlanders in their Chibuku Super Cup semi-final against Harare City Football Club at Rufaro Stadium. Announcing the appointment of Zulu at a brief Press conference at the club offices at 50 Robert Mugabe Way on 14 October 2014, Highlanders chief executive, Ndumiso Gumede, said Zulu would also be in charge of the team’s disciplinary issues.
He came back into the Bosso fold again in 2015 alongside Amin Soma-Phiri after the Bulawayo giants parted ways with Bongani Mafu and Mandla Mpofu. In 2015 and 2016 Zulu doubled up as the technical director in charge of all teams and also as the Highlanders goalkeepers coach but this year his duties have been limited to coaching goalkeepers.
In 2017, Highlanders demoted him as goalkeepers' coach to the junior structures and replaced him with legendary Bosso keeper Peter Nkomo. Zulu was found guilty of misconduct and fined $700 following a disciplinary hearing conducted by a three-man tribunal. The club’s executive has however left the doors open for him to negotiate a downward review. His co-accused assistant coach Amini Soma-Phiri was spared. Zulu and Soma-Phiri had been on suspension with full pay for more than a month after their personal clashes were deemed poisonous, as most spats occurred in front of players. The Bosso leadership felt the gaffers’ unbecoming behaviour was badly affecting the team.
Former Highlanders Football Club Coach Cosmos Zulu has bemoaned the emergence of medical tourists whom he said are financially crippling the country. Speaking at a Zimpapers organised industry and commerce executive indaba in Bulawayo in October 2017, Zulu said the then finance minister Ignatius Chombo should urgently address medical tourism which he said is suffocating the national economy. "The new minister of finance should stop medical tourism which is killing our country. These days a lot of people including managing directors of companies shun local medical facilities and prefer to go overseas for treatment," said Zulu.
Zulu urged the government to pour more resources into the local health sector so that the country's facilities are affordable to the poor. "Some time my daughter was involved in an accident and developed a blood clot on her head. For ten years, I tried in vain to have her treated at local hospitals until I took her to South Africa where she was treated for R25 000," said the former Bosso gaffer. Zulu said he is saddened that poor people in this country continue to succumb to treatable diseases because of non-availability of good health facilities as well as inhibitive medical costs while the elite continue to seek treatment overseas.
Former Highlanders assistant coach Cosmas 'Tsano' Zulu has launched Cosmas Zulu Sanitary Pads Movement designed to help young women who have no access to sanitary pads.
- NetOne Easycall Cup
- Chibuku Trophy (1984)
- Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League winner (with Amazulu Football Club in 2003)
- 2019 Chibuku Super Cup Runner-Up (With Ngezi Platinum F.C.)
- Sikhumbuzo Moyo, , Chronicle, Published: 25 August, 2020, Accessed: 25 August, 2020
- Sakheleni Nxumalo, , The Standard, Published: 26 March, 2017, Accessed: 25 August, 2020
- Sikhumbuzo Moyo and Ricky Zililo, , The Herald, Published: 15 October, 2014, Accessed: 25 August, 2020
- Tawanda Tafirenyika, , Newsday, Published: 10 January, 2019, Accessed: 25 August, 2020
- , allAfrica, Published: 11 October, 2017, Accessed: 25 August, 2020
- , VOA Zimbabwe, Published: 20 December, 2017, Accessed: 25 August, 2020