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CONDOLENCES POUR IN FOR LATE TEXAN

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MBABANE – Condolences are pouring in for the late former Royal Leopard’s Zambian coach, Texan Phiri.
The experienced coach passed away on Wednesday in Livingstone, Zambia after a battle with an undisclosed illness.


At the time of his untimely demise, Phiri was attached to Eastlands Football Academy in his home country.
He has coached a number of local teams in the premier league including Leopard, Young Buffaloes, XI Men In Flight, Manzini Sundowns, Pigg’s Peak Black Swallows, Malanti Chiefs and Tambuti FC.


In a statement from Eastlands Football Academy Facebook page, the club is confirming the sad passing of Phiri.
“As Eastlands Football Academy, we are saddened and have learnt with shock and disbelief the passing on of our head coach Mr Texan Phiri.


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His last game before COVID-19 was a cup game against Livingstone Pirates, which we lost on penalties. As a club, we would like to convey our deepest condolences to the Phiri family, Eastlands family and all football stakeholders,” the statement reads in part.
After leaving his last job in the country which was at premier league outfit Tambuti FC, Phiri moved to the Botswana Premier Division, where he joined Ecco City Greens in 2016. Despite being a foreign coach, Phiri ranks among the few Zambian coaches who came into Eswatini football and left a big mark.


Other coaches of that country who have been put in the hall of fame in local football include the likes of Jani ‘Be Good’ Simulambo, George Shantumbu, Francis ‘Mkhulu’ Banda, Happy Simfukwe, Ben Bamfuchile and the now late Benjamin Chilongo.


Locally, it was at Leopard where he showed his true coaching mettle and won the hearts of local teams who never hesitated to line up for his services when available. He won a number of trophies with the police force side after joining them in August 2010, winning the EswatiniBank Cup the following year.


His other major achievement with Leopard was taking the runners-up medal for the MTN Premier League in 2011, which was won by Mbabane Swallows.
Leopard’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Frank Hurube was at a loss for words to describe their shock at the sudden demise of Phiri.


“We are still trying to come to terms with the news because Texan Phiri was more than family to Leopard. He worked diligently and applied great professionalism in his line of work. He hated losing with a passion and always worked hard to ensure that we won trophies. We are still to issue an official statement as a team on these sad news but we are deeply saddened that Texan Phiri is no more, it is hard to believe,” Hurube said, in a mourning tone.


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Black Swallows’ chairman Charles Matsebula said it was hard for him to come to terms with the news.
“We shared a strong bond with Texan Phiri and he came to Black Swallows at a time when I was still cutting my teeth in the football administration world. I learnt a lot from this man and the one thing I liked about him was his humility.


Respect was his middle name no matter the age difference and he was very good at coaching. He spent two seasons with Black Swallows and helped us avoid relegation from the premier league. He was a true professional and he will forever stay in our hearts. We pass our sincere condolences to his family and all those who knew him, we pray that God comfort them in such sad moments,” Matsebula said.


He added that they would have loved to attend his funeral in Zambia but lamented the fact that this was not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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