Sharuko on Saturday
PREDICTABLY, even in that wave of ecstasy that swept across domestic football as we celebrated Chicken Inn’s stunning victory last Saturday, there were some Zimbabwean voices who tried their best to spoil our glorious hour in the sunshine.
Rather than join the celebrations, they chose to try and dampen our spirits with tales of Armageddon, turning themselves into self-styled prophets who told us our Gamecocks were going to be slaughtered in Pretoria and their victory, on Saturday, was just one of those fluke results that football gives out once in a while.
Conveniently, they forgot, or rather deliberately chose to ignore, their wild pre-match predictions, ahead of the game in the City of Kings, when they kept telling us the Gamecocks were set for a thorough beating, in their backyard, at a hands of a team, if you listened to them, which was an awesome steam-rolling machine.
Now that their wild predictions had not come to pass, with Chicken Inn turning on the show to win the first leg courtesy of a superb goal from Michelle Katsvairo, as good a goal as we will see in the CAF Champions League this season, these Doomsday Prophets decided to suddenly borrow comfort from the future.
The real show, they repeatedly told us, would be in Pretoria where class was going to be separated from junk, where boys were going to be separated from men, where superiority was going to be separated from inferiority, where the light — which they say Mamelodi Sundowns represent — would be separated from the darkness that they claim the Gamecocks represent.
They didn’t want us to even enjoy the spoils of our victory at Barbourfields, as if we hadn’t won that match, as if that match was never played, as if Katsvairo’s goal was never scored, as if all those beautiful sights and deafening sounds from Emagumeni were just a mirage, something we collectively created in our sleep.
They wanted to turn us into non-believers, a community of latter-day Doubting Thomases, for us to say that “unless we see bruises on the thighs of the Sundowns’ defender, who was left stranded on the floor as Katsvairo skipped through and charged forward, and we put our fingers where the bruises are, and we put our hands onto those marks, we will not believe that it happened.”
How, in that tsunami of denial, did some of us wish, just like our Lord Jesus Christ all those years back, we could have told them, “BECAUSE WE SAW IT, WE BELIEVED, BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO DIDN’T SEE IT AND YET HAVE BELIEVED.”
Come on guys, Pretoria and your Armageddon can wait, that’s the stuff for another day, a challenge for another week, a battle for another venue, a fight in another country, a showdown in another city, a duel for another stadium whose fate is only known by the football gods and not mere mortals like you and me.
For now, please, just allow us to enjoy our victory at Barbourfields, allow the 10 000 plus Zimbabweans who believed, and converged at Babourfields to support a team that was flying their national flag, who refused to be imprisoned by the club barriers that make the Gamecocks an enemy on the domestic front and who saw value in the virtues of supporting a club that was standing for their motherland, to enjoy their moment.
Whether the 1-0 victory might, or might not be enough, to keep Chicken Inn in the Champions League, when the referee ends the second leg in Pretoria is, irrelevant right now — that can wait for another week — because what matters now is celebrating the events at Barbourfields last Saturday because that was quite special.
Our little team whose entire monthly salary bill for its players and coaching staff might just be less than what Teko Modise takes home every month at Sundowns, our coach outwitting a man who was part of the Bafana Bafana coaching crew at the 2010 World Cup, before taking over as the team’s head coach after the tournament, our ‘keeper, keeping a clean sheet in an attack that featured a man hired from Colombia to get goals for these Brazilians.
A coach who said Nyasha Mushekwi was not good enough for them, frustrating him so much he ended up joining the bandwagon to play in China, a coach who said that Kuda Mahachi was not good enough for him, a coach who is slowly dumping Cuthbert Malajila, destroying his confidence with each passing week that he stays either on that bench or out of the side.
A coach who, after finally playing a proper opponent and not the circus that he meets, and defeats, week-in-and-week-out in the strange world of Supa Diski, which had — since September last year, in a period spanning over 19 games — failed to beat him, decides to blame it all on the turf of Barbourfields when the one at Orlando Stadium, where his men won their last battle before the trip to Bulawayo, is in a worse state.
Yes, chairman Killer T, rovai ngoma, nokuti tinoda kumbofarawo kani, hatingapedze gore rese tichichema, and boy, oh boy, we loved it all, just seeing our team, playing their first game in the CAF Champions League, defeating a side that reached the final of this tournament in 2001.
WHY DO WE REALLY HATE
OURSELVES SO MUCH?
I can understand if it’s the South Africans mocking us, from telling us that Chicken Inn is a strange name for a football club to warning us that, come next weekend, the real Warriors from Mamelodi will rise to the occasion and destroy our Champions League debutantes.
What I can’t understand is my fellow Zimbabweans feeling hurt by the result from Barbourfields, feeling disappointed that Chicken Inn beat a team that has been setting Supa Diski alight and leads the championship race by nine points, feeling distressed that Sundowns were beaten by Chicken Inn and questioning why we are celebrating wildly when, in their analysis, the Gamecocks are going to be hammered next weekend.
Why do we really hate ourselves so much?
Yes, even if Chicken Inn are massacred in Pretoria, so what?
Should that stop us from enjoying our moment in the sunshine to celebrate this young club’s finest hour when they beat the team deemed the best in the seventh richest league in the world, the league where all our players who show a decent touch end up plying their trade, beating a team ranked as the Most Valuable Football Club in that country, beating a team that leads Supa Diski by nine points and which, until their met the Gamecocks, had not tasted defeat in 19 games spread over five months?
For goodness sake, that’s why the football world is celebrating Danish lightweights Midtylland’s stunning 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday night, it’s the reason why that result has sent Twitter into a frenzy and why is it being hailed as a triumph for football’s free-spirited challengers over the game’s establishment, the very tales that make this game such a beautiful one?
That these Danish upstarts, formed in 1999, the year that Manchester United — in this club’s previous life when it was under the guidance of a proper Scottish coach and not a hopeless clipboard-obsessed Dutchman who is an insult to what this job is all about — won the Treble of the Champions League, English championship and the FA Cup, can beat the Red Devils, is something special, worth celebrating.
And the fact that Midtylland have only two professional footballers, with the rest being part-timers, made their success story on Thursday night such an incredible tale that needed to be celebrated.
It doesn’t matter whether Midtylland will be beaten in the second leg at Old Trafford, that can wait for another day, another week, another time because all that matters now is the fact that this little Danish club, just 17 years old, beat Manchester United and it’s a story that is worth celebrating.
Why, then, should we act differently when one of our lightweight clubs beat a heavyweight like Sundowns, why should some of us, our countrymen and women, find it offensive that we are celebrating that victory, why should we talk about the future when what we have right now is the present and, whether you like it or not, Chicken Inn — who had not played a competitive game since December — beat the so-called mighty Brazilians.
If Goliath had defeated David, their battle would not have provided an enduring story that still fascinates us to this day but, simply because the underdog destroyed the heavyweight, the tale remains alive today, remains inspirational today.
But, instead of celebrating Chicken Inn’s victory, some of us choose to live in denial to the extent of even apologising to Sundowns that it was just a fluke, because they have always told us that our top-flight league is useless and cannot produce a team that can beat any team in Super Diski, let alone that league’s champions-in-waiting.
Their stinking inferiority complex is so strong that if you listen to them, discussing the events at Barboourfields on Saturday, you will hear all sorts of foolish excuses, telling you that it was Sundowns who lost rather than Chicken Inn who won.
THAT’S WHY THEY EVEN DON’T CELEBRATE SOME OF OUR GRAND ACHIEVEMENTS
I have seen it for some time now that there is a huge community among us who think that Dynamos’ march into the Champions League final in 1998 was not a special story and, when you say those Glamour Boys were something special, they refer you to Orlando Pirates, telling you that the Buccaneers — unlike DeMbare — actually won the tournament in 1995.
They quickly tell you that only fools celebrate the achievements of a team that reaches the final and loses it, even when that tournament is the toughest and biggest inter-club tourney on the continent, and others even have the audacity to tell you that it was a fluke even when the very same team, 10 years later, marched into the semi-finals of the same tournament.
Their blinkers don’t allow them to see that it’s special for a team without the financial backing, which the clubs in South Africa take for granted, a team without its training ground, let alone its own stadium like Pirates, a team without any immovable asset, which uses rented offices and whose messenger doesn’t even have a bicycle, to make it into the CAF Champions League final and semi-final, in a period of 10 years.
While we try hard not to see the special nature of these Glamour Boys achievements, simply because we hate ourselves so much, foreign football writers like Paul Doyle of The Guardian newspaper of England, are quick to see what we are pretending not to see.
“Dynamos FC are nicknamed the Glamour Boys because they’re the country’s most popular club. But in the wider world of African, let alone global, football, that sobriquet could easily be seen as sarcastic,” he wrote after DeMbare qualified for the 2008 CAF Champions League semi-final.
“For financially Dynamos are in dire straits even though they can sell out their 45,000-capacity stadium, where at the start of this season the cheapest tickets cost . . . one hundred million dollars.
“Now here’s the story of the greatest football achievement of the season. It’s a story without an end as yet, but if what’s happened so far is anything to go by it will culminate with Dynamos being crowned the most unlikely continental champions ever.
“Last Saturday, Dynamos beat Zamalek to reach the semi-finals of the African Champions League. Zamalek, the Egyptians, who’ve won the tournament five times, boast a slew of internationals and are flush enough to employ an expensive German coach and pay Amr Zaky’s replacement, Junior Agogo, some £300,000 per year.
“The other teams in Dynamos’ group were no less daunting than Zamalek. There were the other Cairo giants — and also five-times African champions — Al Ahly, plus old chums ASEC Mimosa who, as one of the most consistent clubs on the continent, have reached the group stages in nine of the last 12 seasons.
“Even getting to the group stages was an astonishing feat for Dynamos, particularly as it entailed shocking reigning champions Etoile du Sahel.”
We mock Moses Chunga for having been only good enough for “a modest Belgian club” but we are quick to hail Kalusha Bwalya as a special breed of footballer even though his Belgian club, back then, was finishing in 10th and 11th place in that country’s top-flight league.
And when the entire Aalst town comes to a standstill, fetes Chunga like a King and gives him five-star treatment when the former Zimbabwe skipper is invited for a reunion with the club and their fans, 20 years after he left, we dismiss all this as a non-event.
Even when Chunga is accorded the honour of putting his signature, alongside that of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the Golden Book of the City of Aalst at a function to honour him at Town House, the highest civic honour that an individual can ever get in that town, they still dismiss it as a non-event because it’s Chunga.
Because we hate ourselves, and belittle our achievements so much, no one cared to remember that the last UEFA Champions League marked the 20th anniversary of the edition in which one of our own, Norman Mapeza, became the first Zimbabwean in-field footballer to play in this tournament when he starred for Turkish giants Galatasaray in the 1994-1995 edition of the world’s premier inter-club tourney.
We rush to embrace Pep Guardiola as a former great player, and a super coach, and ignore the fact that Mapeza is also a former great player, who is on the path of becoming a super coach, and the two battled twice, in their UEFA Champions League showdown, with Pep and his men winning the game in Barcelona 2-1 and Nomara and his men winning the game in Istanbul 2-1.
We rush to embrace Romario as a football superstar while we are quick to belittle the talent of Mapeza even though, about 20 years ago, they were playing at the same level, in the same competition with our man even lasting the entire 90 minutes of all these matches.
Because we hate ourselves so much we have no respect for our own man who battled against the likes of Hristo Stoichkov, Ronald Koeman, Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Nicky Butt, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Mark Hughes and the likes, on the grand stage of the UEFA Champions League, while we are quick to acknowledge and celebrate the talents of those whom he battled against simply because they are foreigners.
We acknowledge and celebrate the talents of Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Gary Neville even though these guys were then considered not good enough, to make the first team of the Manchester United that battled a Galatasary side where Mapeza was one of the first players on the coach’s team card, in that Champions League showdown.
We don’t celebrate that Peter Ndlovu was the first African player to play in the English Premiership, after it changed from the old First Division in the ‘90s, and that he was the first player, in 30 years, to score a hat-trick at Anfield, the home of Liverpool.
When Charles Mabika tells us that George Shaya and Kuda Muchemeyi executed the “Passed Penalty” move against Rio Tinto at Gwanzura in 1979, 37 years before Lionel Messi and Suarez did it, we throw all sorts of bricks towards Charlie, even challenging him to produce video evidence to back that because, in our little world, it’s something we think can only be done by the Messis and Suarezs of this world.
Somehow we don’t demand video footage to believe that Pele, indeed, scored 1 281 goals in 1363 games.
BANNER OF THE WEEK (AS SEEN AT BARBOURFIELDS ON SATURDAY)
Mamelodi Sundowns are just like the Rand, very strong in South Africa, BUT very weak in Zimbabwe.
To God Be The Glory!
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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