If you are the only surviving Malawian player in European football’s rough terrain, you need a thick skin; Flames midfielder Tawonga Chimodzi has that at Greece second-tier side Iraklis Psachna.
Tawonga, 26, should have this season been playing for a bigger Greece second-division outfit Olympiacos Volos. But a failed medical test had the midfielder not only returning to Psachna but also refunding the signing -on fee. He refused to disclose the signing-on fee, but it could be in millions.
“I had a two-year contract with Iraklis and was actually sold to that other team and signed everything until the medical doctor said I had to do an operation, so we had to terminate the contract and automatically my team got me back, so I am in my last year,” he explained in an interview from Psachna City.
For the prayerful and pragmatic Tawonga there is no room for pity about a missed lucrative deal in the July international transfer window. Volos are bigger and also missed promotion to the main league by a whisker from the second-tier league, which is called the Football League.
“Don’t mind the figure [signing-on fee], but yeah I had to return it all. I don’t know the transfer fee. It was between the teams and its okay man. I have actually learned a lot in this period and I am thankful of it. Hindrances are always there for our benefit,” he noted.
He is out for many months with right leg ligaments he tore during last season’s promotion play-offs to the main Greece League. Tawonga expects a return to action next month.
“It makes sense because nobody would buy something that they will use in six months or eight months later,” said Tawonga, who added that his future with the Flames was up to the coaches, who include his father Young Chimodzi and Jack Chamangwana.
Young confirmed that the injury put pain to his son’s prospects of joining Volos. Tawonga’s strength is his pace, passing vision and dribbling. He stands at 1.85 metres and last received a Flames call-up under Tom Saintfiet last September.
Recently, Young admitted that he was in a tight spot on his sons, including Young Chimodzi Junior of Silver Strikers, fearing he could be seen as favouring them. However, the Flames coaches insist the door is open to all eligible Malawian players abroad.
Stephen Constantine, who handed Tawonga Flames a debut while the Englishman was in charge of the national team in 2006, travelled to Greece last season to watch the midfielder in action for Psachna. Constantine told the international press that he was impressed with Tawonga’s form.
Tawonga is little known in Malawi as he hardly lasted a season in the TNM Super League before signing for Santos FC of South Africa First Division from Silver Strikers. In South Africa, where he spent six seasons, he is rated highly.
He made Santos’ debut in September 2007 in a 1-0 defeat away to Orlando Pirates, prompting the then Santos coach Jean Marc Ithier to wax lyrical about him. Tawonga has some 10 caps and he scored thrice in 26 appearances in Greece last season, according to Wikipedia.
“This boy is technically correct and has a great future with the club. He showed a kind of maturity against Pirates seldom seen in boys of his age and that augers well for his survival in the top flight league. He has the ability to make things happen further forward,” Ithier was quoted as saying on www.iol.co.za/sport/santos-hopes-at-feet-of-chimodzi.
There is no other Malawian playing competitive football in Europe with Dan Chitsulo playing football part-time with a regional fourth-tier team, in Germany. The rest Russel Mwafulirwa, Esau Kanyenda, Clement Kafwafwa and Robin Ngalande either returned to Africa or retired.