Sharuko on Saturday

HIS official first name was Charles.

A significant number of people called him Eddie Nyatanga.

Just about everyone else simply called him MBOMA.

And, that’s what we called him, long before a Cameroonian footballer called Patrick Mboma, emerged on the scene.

He used to call himself Tiger Woods, bragging that he had the good looks of the American golf superstar, and we used to give him the benefit of doubt.

On Tuesday, Charles Nyatanga, widely known as Mboma, died at his home in Borrowdale Brooke, after suffering a heart attack.

It had to take the power of death for Mboma to be silenced because, as far as I can remember, he wasn’t a fellow who would shut his mouth even for a minute.

The last friend of ours who had lunch with him in Harare told us a story about Mboma speaking endlessly, for about two hours, during that lunch date.

He was full of life, he was colourful, he was maverick, he was controversial, he was talkative, he was hilarious, he was passionate, he was loyal, he was comical, he was a good man.

He loved his beer and was so loyal to his Heineken lager that he would even go to the extraordinary length of somehow smuggling it onto his flights.

How he did it I will never know but he had this little cooler bag, which he used to pack with his cold Heineken lagers, which would be taken onto his flight.

He loved his football, from his lifelong romance with CAPS United to his well-documented love affair with the Warriors.

He was also an Arsenal fan, just like Moses Chunga, a man who became one of his closest buddies in a friendship which became even stronger than a brotherhood.

But Mboma is one of those guys you can’t attach to one particular team because he was a true child of the game and, during the ‘80s, he even ran a colourful social football club.

It was called BMC Bombers.

And, it was ahead of its time because while the traditional clubs like Dynamos and CAPS United were clocking hundreds of kilometres to fulfil matches in Bulawayo, the players of BMC Bombers were flying to the City of Kings to play their social matches.

There was something about Mboma that was different and special.

During the days when his offices were at 20 Lanark Road in Belgravia, Mboma would order his workers to prepare lunch for at least 30 people, from Monday to Friday.

And, many of his friends would come every day for the free lunch, which usually was followed by free beers, and a lot of discussion on football matters.

It was his love affair with football which made him come up with the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association and gave the ceremonial leadership role to his mentor Coleman Majaya.

He gave himself the strange title of life vice-president at the organisation, which was later changed to life president, when Majaya died.

But we all knew, even during the days when he called himself the life vice-president, that he was the real power behind the throne at ZNSSA, a post which gave him quite an influential role to play in our football.

He was quite a bold and fearless character.

And, one incident I will never forget was when he told the late former President Mugabe that the time had come for his nephew, Leo, to step aside and give others a chance to run the game.

Leo was the ZIFA boss at that time.

He was quite a very strong man in the game and it needed a fearless man to take him head on let alone take such a powerful message to the most powerful man in the country.

But, for those of us who knew Mboma very well, this wasn’t a surprise but this was typical Eddie Nyatanga, the man who either did not know the meaning of fear or was allergic to it.

Mboma’s gamble was that since the former President was Leo’s uncle, he was likely to counsel him, and make him change his ways, better than anyone else.

Whether it worked or not we will never know but the reality is that Leo didn’t last long as ZIFA boss after that.


Mboma knew this would complicate his relationship with those who were in charge of the game in this country but he said it was a price he was ready to pay for the sake of helping the game he loved.

It’s the kind of bold characters we are missing in our football today and that explains the silence when Lincoln Mutasa and his colleagues are dragging the game to its grave with their monumental blunders.

 Instead, we now have guys who prefer to keep their silence or pretend they are not seeing the rot because they want to be included in a trip to watch the Warriors play in a foreign country.

The guys who will tell you there is nothing wrong with this ZIFA leadership having four different Warriors coaches in the last NINE MONTHS.

They started with Sunday Chidzambwa for the Presidential Inauguration Cup against Namibia at the National Sports Stadium in September last year.

Then, Brito came along and took charge of the World Cup qualifiers against Rwanda and Nigeria before the baton was passed to Norman Mapeza for the Four Nations tournament in Malawi.

Jairos Tapera became the fourth coach when he took charge of the World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and South Africa.

The guys who will tell you there is nothing wrong with the Warriors, thanks to this kamikaze approach by Mutasa and his blundering ZIFA colleagues, failing to win any of the matches since this group of administrators came on board.

The first game last September ended in a 2-2 draw before Sunday’s men won in a penalty shootout.

Brito’s two assignments ended in draws while Tapera lost his two matches, including a shock defeat to Lesotho, a country which had long forgotten that a World Cup qualifier can be won.

The guys who will tell you that there is nothing wrong with the same ZIFA choosing players for the coach and then expecting the same coach to get the best out of guys he didn’t pick.

The guys who will tell you there is nothing wrong with choosing a coach who will embarrass Jordan Zemura by throwing him into the fray with two minutes remaining in a game we are already losing 1-3.

The guys who will tell you there is nothing wrong with a goalkeeper, who has never played at any national team level, being thrown into the deep end to make his debut in a derby against Bafana Bafana in the hostile environment of Bloemfontein.

The guys who will tell you there is nothing wrong with picking the goalkeepers’ coach of a team, which has conceded the most goals among the top eight clubs in the domestic Premiership, to play the same role for the Warriors.

And, when the specialist department he is supposed to take care of produces the weakest link with his goalkeepers conceding five goals, in two games, and making a lot of blunders, these guys expect us not to ask questions.

The guys who will tell you there is nothing wrong with ZIFA forgetting they had a team manager and only remembering his existence when they were in South Africa and then asking him to follow the team.

The guys who will tell you everything is fine, and we should trust the process, even when we are bottom of the table, with just two points out of a possible 12, and we have just scored twice in 360 minutes.

That is SIX hours of football and we have scored two goals, at an average of a goal every THREE hours.

We will miss men like Mboma who would fight for the cause of their national game no matter the consequences.

Somehow, fate had to decide that Mboma should die on the day the Warriors were well beaten by Bafana Bafana in Bloemfontein.

He had to die on the very day that those nine Dynamos fans also perished, on June 11, 2016, when their kombi crashed on their way to Ascot for a game against Chapungu.

He had to die on the very day the first World Cup finals game was played in Africa on June 11, 2010, when Bafana Bafana took on Mexico at Soccer City with Tshabalala scoring the goal of the tournament.

Mboma had to die at the age of 63.

In 1963, Dynamos was formed.

Charles Nyatanga, the guy we called Mboma, was a CAPS United fan and a football lover.

The last time I met him, he was having his roasted brisket, his youngest son Tafi was in tow and he was, as usual, talking about everything that would just come into his head.

Finally, Mboma has gone quiet.

It even sounds strange to write that.

To God Be The Glory!

Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.

Come on Chegutu Pirates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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E-mail: [email protected]

You can also interact with me on the ZTV football programme, Game Plan, where I join the legendary Charles “CNN” Mabika on Wednesdays

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