Sharuko on Saturday
NINETEEN eight six was a very good year for football and you don’t have to be a fan of Moses Chunga to appreciate that in more ways than one, it was a landmark year for the beautiful game.
Of course, it’s the year Bambo, then known as Razorman, scored 46 goals, leading the line for Dynamos, in a way no one has ever done, 35 years down the line.
That he was just 21, carrying the weight of the biggest local football club on his shoulders, back in an age when Rufaro would be full to capacity by midday, put Chunga’s special exploits into perspective.
Ten times he grabbed a brace, on three occasions, he scored hat-tricks and, for someone who wasn’t a predominantly out-and-out number nine, in an era of tough defenders, this was a remarkable return.
In just three seasons, between the ages of 18 and 21, he had scored 87 goals, with 19 coming in 1984, 22 in 1985 and then the record-breaking mark of 46, coming in 1986.
It’s also widely considered the year football witnessed the greatest performance, by an individual, on the grand stage of the World Cup, when the immortal Diego Maradona, took the game to another level.
His vintage national service, for his beloved Argentina, in that Mexican summer, still needs to be seen, to be believed, exactly 35 years down the line.
Time has failed to dilute the purity of that performance, erase the beauty of its romance and wash away the golden images he left behind, for the football community to consume, for years to come.
One moment, in particular, will always remain embedded in football’s folklore.
It came when Maradona turned, just inside his own half and, using a mixture of amazing strength, athleticism, the ability to run at a forest of defenders, and leave them scrambling in his wake, before scoring what is widely considered the best World Cup goal.
What makes everything special, is the big stage where it was delivered, where others would have been swallowed by the occasion, blinded by the tension and crippled by history.
A World Cup quarter-final showdown, between Argentina and England, played against the backdrop of the Falklands War, had all the sub-plots, which made it the biggest game of that tournament.
Argentina, who had been defeated in the 1982 battle for the ownership of a group of Atlantic Ocean islands, which lie just 1500km from their shore, badly needed a superhero.
And, in Maradona, in that Mexican sunshine, they found an ultimate hero, who picked the right moment, the right game and the right opponents, to score the best goal, ever seen, at the World Cup finals.
In a way, it helped make up for the infamy, of his first goal, in which he conned goalkeeper Peter Shilton, and a Tunisian referee, to give his country the lead.
For a diminutive player like him, it was always going to be difficult, if not impossible, for Maradona to outjump Shilton, who had the privilege of using his arms in repelling the threat.
But Maradona had a trick up his sleeve, using the flick of his arm, which gave him an extended height and, it worked, with the Argentina captain, deceiving the officials, to push his team into the lead.
He even mischievously claimed it was the “Hand of God,’’ when this masterpiece of con artistry had possibly been scripted, by the “Hand of the Devil.’’
To then follow such an exhibition of dark arts, with a vintage individual show, in which he took on the entire English defence, before finishing with aplomb, is the kind of stuff which only a genius, like Maradona, could produce.
Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher, Terry Fenwick and Shilton all have told their stories over the years, of the way they were eliminated, by the sheer force of such incredible individual brilliance.
RAMOS, LIKE A BULLY FROM THE CLASS OF ’86, POURED OUT HIS SOUL
It’s difficult to argue that 1986 was not a real football year because something significant, in the game, appeared to happen all the time.
It was the year some of the game’s greatest players were also born.
Manuel Neuer, voted best goalkeeper in the world during the decade 2010 and 2020, a winner of nine Bundesliga titles, two Champions League titles and a World Cup title, was born in 1986.
Hugo Lloris, the Frenchman who captained his country to World Cup glory in Russia 2018, was also born in 1986.
And, so were Vincent Kompany, the legendary skipper of Manchester City, Diego Godin, the rock of the Uruguay defence and ageless Portuguese playmaker, Joao Moutinho.
Then, you have James Milner, who just keeps going, the excellent David Silva, Radamel Falcao, Edin Dzeko, Kasper Schmeichel, Olivier Giroud and Nani.
And, of course, there is the great Sergio Ramos.
For 16 years, he transformed himself into the heart and soul of Real Madrid, winning 22 major titles, with the Spanish giants, including five La Liga championships and four UEFA Champions League titles.
One of those titles included a headed equaliser by Ramos in the 93rd minute against Atletico Madrid, which took the 2014 Champions League final into extra-time, which Real won comfortably.
He has been named La Liga’s Best Defender, a record five times and after making his first appearance for Spain at the age of 18, Ramos became his country’s youngest player to reach 100 caps, in 2013.
He is his country’s most capped player and, amazingly, for a defender, he is Spain’s eighth highest all-time goal-scorer while, with the 131 victories, while playing for his national team, is a record.
Last month, Ramos’ 16-year stay at Real Madrid, came to an end.
But, rather than try and sugar-coat his ugly divorce, with the club where he spent 16 years of his life, Ramos chose honesty, rather than deception, reality rather than fantasy, the truth, rather a public relations jungle, meant to make him look good, within the club’s leadership,
“I would like to clarify that I never wanted to leave Real Madrid, I always wanted to continue here,” he said.
“The club offered me the chance to renew my contract, but with Covid, and everything, it kept being put off.
“Then in the last months the club made me an offer of one year, with a drop in salary.
“Money was never a problem, the president knew from my mouth that my issue was contract length — I wanted two years, for me and my family.
“I am never moved by money. It was about years — I wanted two, just to be relaxed, for my family. I felt I had earned it. But it was not to be. A new stage will begin now.
“I don’t know why this offer had an expiry date, without being told, while there was a negotiation. Maybe I misunderstood, but nobody had told me the offer could be withdrawn.’’
It never mattered to Ramos that Ream Madrid president, Florentino Perez, was the man who oversaw the €27 million deal, which brought him from Sevilla in 2005, providing him with the big stage, which transformed him into a superstar.
He was never purchased, as a tool, to serve Real Madrid, but as a human being who had played more than his part, in serving the interests of his club.
Ramos knew he wasn’t a slave, when he arrived at Real Madrid, but a partner who was brought in to add value to the club, something which he did, with honours, during his lengthy stay, at the team.
He felt there was a touch of disrespect, in the way Real Madrid refused to give him a two-year contract, as if he was just another ordinary player, in the team, as if he wasn’t the leader of the club.
So, he poured out his emotions and rather than pretend, everything was okay, Perez was the be-all-and-end-all of club football administration, Ramos told the world he had been handed an unfair deal.
KATSANDE APPEARS APOLOGETIC, WHY WE DON’T KNOW
Willard Katsande, just like Ramos, was also born in 1986, the two are just separated by just two months.
And, they both captained their clubs, and their countries during their illustrious careers.
Katsande spent the best 10 years of his career serving Kaizer Chiefs, a club which became, during the course of their partnership, more than just a football team, but a home.
He gave everything to serve the Amakhosi, winning two league titles in 2013 and 2014, the Nedbank Cup in 2013, the MTN8 in 2014, and helping them reach the final of the CAF Champions League for the first time in their history.
It’s an open secret Katsande didn’t want to leave Chiefs this season when he was called into the club’s offices and told that their 10-year relationship was over.
He is right to believe he still had a year or so at which he could play at the level expected of a Chiefs player, and he is not wrong.
After all, how do the club’s bosses suddenly believe someone who was good enough to start against Al Ahly a few weeks ago,can now be deemed not good enough to play for them, against Chippa United, the world’s most chaotic football club?
Or, against Sekhukhune, the very team which Katsande has somehow chosen, for the swansong of his career.
Or, against Marumo Giants, whose imitation of the New York Giants, would have been funny if this was comedy, and not a serious football industry?
They used to be known as Tshakhuma Tsha Mandivhandila, the last time they played a competitive game.
For me, what has been disappointing about Katsande has been hearing a broken man, who gave everything to serve a football club he loved and identified with, trying to sell the world a dummy that deep down in his soul, he was happy with how things have turned out.
The reality is that he is not and he was given a raw deal.
It has been about hearing him virtually apologise to Kaizer Chiefs for deciding to throw him out, even when he believed he deserved another year or so, in the colours of the Amakhosi.
He was almost like someone on his knees, trying to tell Chiefs this was a relationship, between master and servant, and not a business partnership, in which he delivered a service to the Amakhosi, for a decade.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must leave my beloved Kaizer Chiefs family,” he said.
“I am honoured and eternally grateful to the chairman of the club, Mr Kaizer Motaung, for granting me the opportunity to represent this great institution over the last decade.
“I am blessed beyond imagination, having represented my childhood club for over 320 games, lifted four trophies and participated in the Champions League. Kaizer Chiefs is my family and will always be in my heart.’’
Fair and fine, Chiefs became his home but, when you have given so much in service to a football club, I believe Katsande earned the right to tell the world the Amakhosi gave him a raw deal.
Of course, it comes with a cost, once you fall out with Chiefs in South African, it’s almost like you have fallen out with the whole football industry in that country.
But, there is a dividend which comes with principle, and the least one can do is pretend he is happy when he is not.
It’s the deceptive image which Katsande has been trying to project in recent days when in reality he feels he got a very raw deal.
Of course, Chiefs have a right to call time on any relationship they have with any of their employers, but it doesn’t mean their decision cannot be analysed, or criticised.
Somehow, the same Chiefs management, who felt Katsande was now excess to requirements, decided to retain someone who, like the Zimbabwean, was also born in 1986.
His name is Bernard Parker.
The man who scored his first goal, for the Amakhosi, in almost two years, in April this year, when they beat Wydad Casablanca 1-0, in a CAF Champions League match.
His last goal, for Chiefs, had come in 2019, in a 4-2 Nedbank Cup win over Chippa United, on April 20, that year.
If Katsande, as a defensive midfielder, scored more goals than Parker in the past three seasons, what is it, which the Amakhosi bosses can point out at, to suggest the Zimbabwean came short, to merit their sudden divorce?
And, Parker did well, to merit an extension of his contract?
Disappointingly, Katsande wants to give an impression he is okay with everything that has happened to him in the past few weeks.
For someone, who has never been known for selling opponents a dummy, it’s a very poor attempt.
He wasn’t a charity case at Chiefs, he earned his place at the club, and the way he was treated was wrong.
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 in the struggle.
Come on Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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