Magaya brings down the house

Magaya brings down the house DEFT TOUCH . . . Walter Magaya (right) passes the ball with his outfoot while Ronald Sibanda watches during the exhibition match at the National Sports Stadium yesterday
DEFT TOUCH . . . Walter Magaya (right) passes the ball with his outfoot while Ronald Sibanda watches during the exhibition match at the National Sports Stadium yesterday

DEFT TOUCH . . . Walter Magaya (right) passes the ball with his outfoot while Ronald Sibanda watches during the exhibition match at the National Sports Stadium yesterday

Sports Reporters
PROPHETIC Healing and Deliverance Ministry founder Prophet Walter Magaya might not have previously played for the Warriors but he lived his dream yesterday as he literally brought the house down after receiving vociferous applause when he featured in a Zimbabwe against Barcelona Legends exhibition tie at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.

The soccer-mad prophet was introduced as a second half substitute late on but even the visiting former Barcelona stars could not resist but marvel at his iconic status as very touch he made was greeted with huge cheers from the terraces.

Magaya, who has been ZIFA’s all-weather friend with his benevolence benefiting the association especially with the national teams, was invited to play as a guest of the association in the match which featured former Warriors stars and the Barcelona counterparts.

The prophet had earlier been appointed liaison officer of the team when the squad was being assembled before being invited to be part of the team.

On his part Magaya offered the two teams in the exhibition match, accommodation facilities and transport to the match venue.

The prophet might not have turned up for the national team but he used to feature for his Yadah Stars when they were still a Division One side.

Yesterday he not only lined up together with some of the players he idolised while growing up but also brought the house down, initially capturing attention when the Warriors legends were warming up before the decibels hit the roof, the moment he was about to be introduced late on in the second half.

A host of Magaya’s PHD congregants skipped the church’s afternoon service to join thousands of Zimbabweans drawn from different sectors and races who thronged the National Sports Stadium to watch yesterday’s match.

Although ZIFA’s critics, some of whom appear more obsessed with negativity, might have been quick to out that Magaya should not have been included in the squad, it is a trend the world over that gust players can be invited for exhibition matches.

More importantly it is ZIFA who are entrusted with running the Warriors brand and that they decided to repay one of their major benefactors with an invitation to feature in an exhibition was as good a decision as they come as the prophet also lured with him hordes of his followers to the stadium.

The 34-year-old prophet, who was introduced as a 75th minute substitute for Johannes Ngodzo and the crowd erupting into a frenzy when the public address system announcer confirmed that he was coming on for the former Highlanders man.

Magaya did not disappoint either, making some deft touches and fine passes in a game that also featured former greats like Edgar Davids, Ludovic Giuly, Francesco Coco, Gianluca Zambrotta, Frederick Degu and Giovanni Silva.

His first touch, an out-footer to Edward Sadomba which was followed by a string of fine passes from the middle where he played alongside the likes of Tinashe Nengomasha, Ronald Sibanda, Harlington Shereni and Desmond Maringwa silenced some doubting Thomases.

In the end many in the crowd were left calling on ZIFA to arrange more of such games. Such sentiments were also echoed by skipper Peter Ndlovu who said the Warriors Legends need to maintain the tradition of playing such matches regularly and paid tribute to the backing by the thousands who braved the persistent threat of an afternoon shower to watch their yesteryear heroes.

“We hope this is not the only time the supporters come just because this is Barcelona. Even if we play South Africa Legends or Namibia Legends these are the kinds of things that keep us together as a country.

“You know there is a lot that’s going on at the moment in our country but football will always unite us.

“Even the Vice-President came here to watch football. So this is the place where people should be holding hands.

“Of course when called and as long as it really doesn’t clash with work but for our country it’s always important that it comes first.

“I had to ask from Mamelodi Sundowns personally and we also have coaches here.

“Kaitano Tembo is at SuperSport and preparing for a cup final (CAF Confederation Cup) but when Zimbabwe calls in he puts it first,” said Ndlovu.

The visitors got their first goal when Davids sent in an inviting cross that was headed home from close range by Kluivert five minutes into the game.

The Dutchman returned three minutes later with another crisp header that gave goalkeeper Brenna Msiska no chance after Davids was brought down on the edge of the box by Dinha.

Rivaldo stepped up and curled in a quality delivery from the dead ball.

They could have made it three on the 23rd minute when Rivaldo threaded a neat pass through the middle and William Mugeyi had to make a desperate clearance after Kluivert had beaten the goalkeeper with a slight touch.

But the finest moment of the afternoon was when Zenzo Moyo’s big frame defied gravity and met a cross flighted in from the right by Ronald Sibanda in the 54th minute with a bicycle kick that was rich in quality. Another second half substitute Sadomba also weighed in with a beautiful strike that beat the keeper Angoy from a distance.

Warriors Legends coach Sunday Chidzambwa said they drew a lot of lessons from the high level of organisation of Barcelona Legends who were coming from another exhibition match against Mozambique on Saturday.

“This was a good outing for the fans and all of us. We saw some former players playing very good football. As coaches we also learnt one or two things from the Barcelona Legends. They are old but they can still play football.

“I think we need more of these games. It’s entirely up to the mother body. Players like Ronald Sibanda, Desmond Maringwa are still able to entertain people and I think we need a bit of sponsorship so that we have more of these kind of games,” said Chidzambwa.

Barcelona Legends spokesperson Rayco Garcia said the visit by the legends was worthwhile.

“We are very happy. It was a very competitive match. We gave a nice spectacle. I think all the people enjoyed with us.

They had an opportunity to come to the stadium where they saw the local stars and the international stars of Barcelona. For us it’s a pleasure to be in this country, to see and feel the passion of the local people,” said Garcia.

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