Denver dazzled, DeMbare exploded
Robson Sharuko H-Metro Editor
IN a few weeks’ time, the clock will indicate that a dozen years have passed, a lot has changed and even Rufaro, itself, is now an empty shell.
A mockery of what used to be the spiritual home of domestic football.
An insult to the memory of what this grand cathedral used to represent, back in the days when it was the playground of some of the game’s finest.
It was at this arena where, on March 20, 2011, a rookie teenager, introduced himself to domestic football.
The team sheet showed his name was Denver Mukamba.
And, if his birth certificate wasn’t selling us the dummies, which would become a trademark of his game, then we had to believe he was 19.
The one with a lanky frame, which appeared more suited to high jumping than football, which helped provide a package which fooled defenders and confused opposing ‘keepers.
The boy from Highfield.
The latest gift to football from a family which had already provided the game with Clive Kawinga, a rickety forward who had a decent goal-scoring touch.
Twelve years have passed since Denver exploded onto the big stage, that afternoon at Rufaro, but not even the passage of time, and the changing of seasons, can wash away the memories.
This was his finest hour, which was quite surprising, because even by the standards of the wildest fairy-tales, they don’t come this big.
Denver was the star of the show, a weapon of mass destruction whose bag of skills crushed the defences of Algerian side MC Alger, as Dynamos powered to a 4-1 win.
He scored the best of the goals, cutting in from the flank, producing a series of feints, without breaking stride and then curling home a beauty, which floated into the top corner, in the 76th minute.
It was DeMbare’s third goal of the match, after strikes from Guthrie Zhokinyi and Rodreck Mutuma, before Farai Vimisai completed the rout.
However, two minutes from time, something happened, which should have warned us that, in this genius, there was a significant flaw, in terms of his character.
A needless challenge, in the box, won MC Alger a penalty, and the away goal they wanted, to take home where, using all the dirty tactics in the game, they won 3-0, sealed by a penalty, to take the contest on the away goals rule.
In just 90 minutes, the two extremes, which help to make Denver Mukamba such a unique box office attraction, were paraded in equal measure.
The genius, whose skills had destroyed the 1976 African champions, was also the moron, whose foolishness also provided the Algerians with the little window they needed to unleash their package of dirty tricks, at home, to win the contest.
This year, after a nomadic career that has taken him everywhere and nowhere, Denver returned to Dynamos.
It means they will be together again, the player and the club, when they mark the 12th anniversary of the day when they charmed the continent, with a blitzkrieg, which destroyed MC Alger.
But, it should also be a reminder of the fundamental flaws in Denver’s personality, which we should have picked, even as he celebrated his finest hour, that day at Rufaro, when he foolishly gave away that needless penalty.
Blinded by the ecstasy of the occasion, and the magical expression of his genius that afternoon, no one cared to take note.
And, naturally, all the focus was on the positive things he did.
It’s possible the reunion between Denver and DeMbare could work out because, in a domestic football landscape where mediocrity is now part of the game, this partnership could work out.
What is of concern, though, is that a dozen years after a teenage Denver announced his arrival at DeMbare, he still remains someone the Glamour Boys should be turning to for the provision of the X-Factor in their attack.
It’s an indictment of domestic football, whose structures have failed to produce a stream of replacements good enough to step into the shoes, which the likes of Denver should have left behind.
If anyone doubts that, the identity of the man, who won the Champions League Golden Boot, in 2011, should provide some good insight.
His name is Edward Sadomba.
He scored seven goals for Sudanese giants, Al Hilal, during that season as they reached the semi-finals, only to lose to eventual winners, Esperance of Tunisia.
Others will say domestic football was breathing back then, and it’s hard to argue otherwise.
The 12th anniversary of that afternoon, when Denver and DeMbare Dazzled in equal measure, will be a celebration of those good old days.
It should also be a reminder of how much domestic football has lost its way because, with all due respect, it’s an insult to the game itself that Denver still commands such box office attraction.
But, it isn’t his fault that the game hasn’t produced players good enough to replace him.
Neither is it his fault that Rufaro, the arena where he expressed his genius and weaknesses that day in March, 2011, is now an empty shell.