Where have the Zim free-kick specialists gone?
Charles Mabika Correspondent
“BEND It Like Beckham” is a 2002 British fictional football comedy movie production that derived its title from the unbelievably exceptional free-kick “bending” techniques into the back of the net by former England international superstar, David Beckham.
The film’s plot is about two young girls who chase careers in professional football despite their parents’ wishes as they aspire to play like Beckham on the football pitch.
Beckham, nicknamed “Becks”, also starred for European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain and scored a whopping 65 free-kicks in a career spanning almost two decades from set-pieces before he retired in 2013.
In this country, there were some expert free- kick specialists soon after Independence like Moses “Bambo” Chunga (Dynamos), Archieford “Chehuchi” Chimutanda (Black Aces), Mercedes “Rambo” Sibanda (Highlanders), Misheck “Nyere” Makota (Shabanie Mine) and Mpumelelo “Era Muna” Dzowa (CAPS United).
Any player will tell you that scoring a goal from a free-kick in just one match is a lifelong ambition. But how about scoring two free-kicks in the same match? Well, that feat has been achieved by only four players since 1980 on our local pitches. And before you exclaim “what?” wait for this: All those matches somehow involved Dynamos!
The players who have achieved this incredible feat are former Black Rhinos left winger, Leslie “Muchinda” Kamuyoyo; ex-Eagles and Dynamos’ prolific midfielder Elvis “Chuchu” Chiweshe; 2001 Soccer Star of the Year and former Chapungu and DeMbare stocky winger, Maxwell “MaRhino” Dube, and current Lusaka Dynamos (Zambia) and ex-Dynamos left-wingback, Ocean “Ngoda” Mushure.
Kamuyoyo started it all back in 1982 when he beat former Warriors and then Glamour Boys’ ‘keeper, Japhet “Short Cat” Mparutsa, in a Castle Cup first round match pitting the latter against then Division One side BAT Ramblers, where “Muchinda” was plying his trade at Gwanzura.
DeMbare, who were the pre-tournament favourites, had raced into a 2-0 lead at half-time through strikes by their forwards, Edward “Madhobha” Katsvere and David “Broom Boy” George and everyone expected an onslaught by the end of the match.
But Kamuyoyo, the lead striker for Ramblers, had other ideas when he struck with chilling accuracy just outside the box after a foul on him by the Glamour Boys’ left wing back, Oliver “Monitoring Force” Kateya. The latter beat a hapless Mparutsa with a rising bullet that hit the top left hand corner of the net.
Ten minutes later, Kamuyoyo made it 2-2, again from a deceptive free-kick from almost the same spot to stun the Glamour Boys’ fans at the 20 000-seater stadium in Highfield.
Dynamos then restored their lead with a quarter of an hour to go through hard-working midfielder, David “Yogi” Mandigora, who beat Ramblers’ ‘keeper Everson Juwa with a rising shot after a neat build-up from the back.
But with only two minutes remaining, Kamuyoyo completed his fairy tale when he latched onto a cross by his right winger, Arthur “Sugar Malaga” Mushangazhike, to head the ball past “The Short Cat” and force the match into a replay.
In the replay, a week later at the same venue, the Dynamos’ defence, brilliantly marshalled by their centre-back pairing of brothers Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa and Misheck “Scania” Chidzambwa, kept Kamuyoyo under lock and key before they massacred the minnows 4-0 to advance to the next round.
The DeMbare head coach then, Shepherd “Shepidho” Murape, had seen enough of “Muchinda’s” prowess that when he (Murape) moved to newly-formed Black Rhinos at the end of that season, he promptly signed Kamuyoyo from the cigarette manufacturing side to form a deadly combination upfront with the likes of Stanley “Sinyo” Ndunduma, Maronga “The Bomber” Nyangela and Jerry “Dzungu” Chidawa at the army side.
Exciting midfielder Chiweshe burst his way into the local history books when he starred for Bulawayo-based side, Eagles, who are still renowned for their sleek, one-touch passing game when they met Dynamos at Rufaro in a league encounter in 1987.
Again, the Glamour Boys, now under the mentorship of “Mhofu” (Sunday Chidzambwa), flew into a 2-0 lead after the hour but were stunned by Chiweshe’s two-goal free-kick heroics in a space of 12 minutes after he beat agile ‘keeper Lucky “Dhubz” Dube and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
The following season, the Harare giants secured “Chuchu’s” signature from Eagles and he continued with his free-kick scoring exploits… but this time only scoring at least once in a match at spaced intervals.
Over a decade later in 2001, marauding Chapungu winger and hit man, Dube, once stunned the Dynamos faithful at Rufaro in a league encounter after he led “Waru Waru” to a shock 2-0 lead with almost 20 minutes to go with his double, blistering two-goal salvo, both from free-kicks past seasoned campaigner and Warriors’ goalminder, Gift “Umbro” Muzadzi.
Unfortunately, “MaRhino” could only watch helplessly as his team failed to hold on as Dynamos scored two goals through Lenny “Ninja” Gwata and Callisto “Manabhunu” Pasuwa to force a draw.
That was also the year that “MaRhino” stood head and shoulders above the rest after he was voted as the country’s top football artist and scooped the Soccer Star of the Year award.
Two years later, he was wearing the blue and white strip of DeMbare but his two-year stay there was not a fruitful one and he returned to the Thornhill-based Air Force of Zimbabwe side.
The “last man standing” in the double free-kick heroics tale is current Zambia’s Lusaka Dynamos’ left wing back Mushure, who had joined DeMbare from 2010 league champions Motor Action in 2012. He struck his exceptional brace from dead ball situations a year after his arrival against Hwange in a league encounter at the Colliery. The coalminers had dominated play and went to the interval leading 2-0. They hit another one after the break to take a commanding 3-0 advantage into the 70th minute. Then Mushure curled home with his immaculate left foot from an acute angled set-piece to beat “Chipangano’s” ‘keeper, Anthony Sibanda, and light up a flicker of hope for the travelling DeMbare fans.
Before the Dynamos’ fans had finished talking about the awesome execution, “Ngoda” struck again to make it 3-2 but any hopes of restoring parity were dashed after Hwange scored their fourth and final goal of the match to win 4-2.
In recent times, we have witnessed some awesome free-kicks finding the target from the likes of former Warriors’ majestic duo of Knowledge “Smiling Assassin” Musona and Khama “Khamaldinho” Billiat, ex-CAPS United left-wingback Ronald “MaRho” Pfumbidzai, Dynamos midfielder Godknows “Zizou” Murwira, Ngezi Platinum’s pair of Denver “Mundikumbuke” Mukamba and Qadir “Museve” Amini, FC Platinum’s Walter “Walaza” Musona and Juan “Jean-Smith” Mutudza but none of them are yet to “Bend It Like Beckham” twice in the same match!