Charles Mabika-Special Correspondent
THE high-density suburb of Mbare has been, until recently, the most fertile breeding field of football giants Dynamos since its formation in 1963.
The finest ever footballer produced in the country — the late George “Mastermind” Shaya — was born and bred in Zimbabwe’s oldest suburb and laid the green path for many others to follow.
Even after Independence, other top-flight and lower division sides like CAPS United, Black Rhinos, Triangle United, Tabex, Herentals, Fire Batteries, Harare City, BAT Ramblers, Darryn Textiles, ProNutro, Glens Strikers, Motor Action and Wightmans were home to many skillful players who hailed from the sprawling and famous suburb.
So it was an arduous task trying to select a Mbare Finest XI outfit since 1980 because I had to sift through a voluminous collection of brilliant players who have paraded their skills in and outside Zimbabwe with their roots in the dusty streets of Mbare.
In the four decades gone by, some of the Mbare-born illustrious artists, some of whom have also played for the nation’s junior and senior sides include the likes of :
Boniface “Keegan” Makuruzo, Moses “Gweje Gweje” Chasweka, Moses “Osso” Kalembela, Alex ‘’Chola’’ Chasweka, Leon “Tingo” Linyama (all Black Aces); Lloyd “Lodza” Katsvere, Garnet “Ganza” Muchongwe, Eric “Fashish” Aisam, Boniface “Achimwene” Kabwe, Henry “Beefy” Chari, Leo “Tawaz” Ntawantawa, Stanley “Chola” Manyati, Hope “Zviyo” Chihota, Benjamin “Mbare Arrow” Marere, Tanaka “TC” Chidhobha, Trevor “Yaya” Mavhunga (all Dynamos); Bapton “Katsi” Nchenyela, Beaven Gwamure (all Chapungu); Silas “Majuta” Chihota, Leonard “Wagga Wagga” Sande, Gift “Skabonya” Roseman, Ian “Papa” Mharapara, Dickson “Dhickela” Mapia, Tau “Fit” Pachirera (all Darryn Textiles); Lewis Mangezha” Kutinyu, Mike “Dutchman” Maringa (all Fire Batteries); Moses “Jah” Muchenje, Munyaradzi Diro-Nyenye (all Harare City); Arnold “Simbi” Chivheya, Walter “Yaya” Sande (all Triangle United); Valentine “Vhale” Musarurwa (CAPS United) and many more.
The following is my “very painful” list of Mbare’s Finest XI since 1980:
1. Stanford Mutizwa (Midfielder) — Arguably the second most skillful player to come out of Mbare after the mercurial Shaya. A creative genius who was a dribbling wizard who earned the nickname “Stix” at a very early age at Chirodzo Primary School because of the way the ball seemed to “stick” to his legs once he gained possession before dribbling past the entire opposition! A rare master of the chest ball control and a perfect spot-kick specialist and could use both feet with amazing nonchalance. Starred for Glens Strikers, CAPS United and Black Rhinos; and also captained the Warriors during an illustrious career that would have seen him have a dance with European football but somehow missed the opportunity when a strong offer from Swiss giants FC Grasshoppers came through. Currently the first assistant coach to Herbert “Jompano” Maruwa at Black Rhinos.
2. Japhet Mparutsa (Goalkeeper) — Widely regarded as the second finest pair of hands so far in local football after Bruce “Jungleman” Grobbelaar. Nicknamed “Short Cat” because of his height and elastic reach. Rose to prominence at Dynamos where he became the first ‘keeper to win the Soccer Star of the Year award in 1982. Was a marvel to watch when he springs airborne to intercept high crosses to safety and is still rated as the finest ball distributor from goal. Still holds the record of being the only ‘keeper to feature as the first-choice goalminder for the national Under-20, Under-23 and senior sides at the same time. Also starred for Black Rhinos and South African top-flight outfit Bloemfontein Celtic.
3. Ernest Mutano (Defender) — Perhaps the most intelligent centreback ever seen on our local fields because of his remarkable anticipation against opposing strikes where he would outwit them with a deceptive swerve, or his customary “cool” back header to Mparutsa both at Rhinos and the Warriors in seemingly tight positions, earning himself the nickname “Mr Cool”. An artist who loved to join in the attack and always roared his team on when the chips were down. Started his career with the Dynamos juniors before journeying to the Lowveld where he starred for then lower division side Triangle United before returning “home” and then later joined army side Black Rhinos.
4. Edward Muchongwe (Defender) — A tough-tackling and uncompromising centre-back who was equally at home as a left wing back. Broke into the Dynamos first team at a young age where he quickly earned the nickname “Major Murefu” because the Glamour Boys fans reckoned “he was like a tall and gangly disciplinarian army major and took care of business”. A steely artist who rarely came out second best in an aerial tussle. One of the few players to cross the Great Divide then when he moved to CAPS United before hanging up his boots.
5. Charles Yohane (Defender) — The late, former Warriors left wing-back was a shy, unassuming character on and off the pitch and let his feet do the talking on it. A swashbuckling operator down the wing who earned the nickname “Madzibaba” because of his smooth-shaven hairstyle. Loved to send in perfect crosses to his forwards when his side was on the offensive. Started his journey at Fire Batteries and later moved to South Africa where he had successful stints at a few clubs and took up coaching there after retirement before a horrific shooting incident claimed his life.
6. Edward Katsvere (Forward) — A little, tricky left winger who was a master dribbler that earned him the two nicknames: “Madhobha” and “Twinkle toes”. Cut his teeth in the DeMbare junior ranks before graduating to stardom there. Deceptive and cunning, he would tear any defence apart with his flamboyant footwork before setting up many finishes for his front runners. Was also a regular goalscorer for the Glamour Boys and had a short stint at State House Tornados before rejoining his boyhood club.
7. Maronga Nyangela (Forward) — One of the most devastating finishers ever produced in the country. Fast, decisive and slippery, he was nicknamed “The Bomber” when he arrived at Black Rhinos from Black Aces because of his red-hot tenacity both inside and just outside the box. Was part of the blistering Chipembere 80s history-making outfit. Thrice crowned the country’s Golden Boot winner, he was every defender’s and ‘keeper’s nightmare.
8. Leonard Tsipa (Forward) — One of the most menacing finishers ever seen in our local game. Strong as an ox and mobile, he was a favourite of the CAPS United fans and they were left shell-shocked after he made a brief stopover at their fiercest rivals Dynamos before returning “home”. One of the Top 10 goalscorers in Makepekepe’s history and earned the nickname “Aghahowa” after his somersault goal celebration emulation of ex-Nigerian forward Julius Aghahowa.
9. Gilbert Mushangazhike (Forward) — The self-styled “Ghetto Fabulous”, he was both at home down the flanks or in the centre forward positions. Graduated into the big time from Fire Batteries and ventured into the Super Diski where he picked up various awards before flying out to China for more glory. A fancy dribbler, he was also a member of the AFCON 2006 Warriors side. Currently head coach at Northern Region Division One side Golden Eagles.
10. Edward Sadomba (Forward) — A right-sided flying winger who terrorised defenders down that flank, using his ferocious speed as his main “weapon of destruction” hence the nickname “Dhudhuza”. Graduated from the Mbare-based Agatha Sheneti Academy and waltzed straight into the Dynamos first team with aplomb. He then struck it rich after he ventured into Asia and Central/North Africa, picking up many awards and scoring more goals in that devastating wake. Finally hung up his boots at his beloved Dynamos at the end of the 2018 season.
11. Qadir Amini (Defender) — An exciting and tough-tackling left wing-back who packs a wallop with his left boot especially from free-kicks. Now the skipper at top flight side Ngezi Platinum, “Museve” defied fate by miraculously recovering from a near career-ending knee injury three seasons ago and shot back into the limelight to continue with his rampaging trait. Can manoeuvre raids with so much finesse and flair from the back and sometimes end up at the finishing point of attack where he can hit the back of the net. He also featured for Dynamos, FC Platinum and the Warriors.
** Watch out for my Mufakose Finest XI next week.