. Rhinos were the champions,Rambo was the soccer star
Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
WHEN President Mnangagwa was sworn in as the second Executive President of Zimbabwe at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, a football game between the country’s biggest clubs – Dynamos and Highlanders — provided the closing soundtrack to the events of that day.
It marked the beginning of a new era, and the end of another, which began 30 years ago when former President Mugabe was sworn in as the country’s first Executive President, at the same giant stadium, after some constitutional amendments effected towards the end of 1987.
It’s been quite a journey, for both the country and its national game, in between, the two monumental periods in its history.
Of course, a lot has changed, for the country and for the game, in those years because, back then:
Black Rhinos were the champions of the domestic Premiership, the army side’s second title in three years, after they won their first championship in 1984 to bring to an end the ruthless domination of a Dynamos side that had won four titles on the bounce since Independence.
Dynamos, who were part of the show on Sunday when they beat Highlanders to bring the curtain down on the day’s events, had — just as was the case in 1984 when Rhinos won their first league championship — had also finished as runners-up in 1987 with CAPS United in third place.
Incredibly, the Glamour Boys, winners of the league championship in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1986, and the army side, who were champions in 1984 and 1987, had been the only two clubs to win the domestic championship since Independence.
Bosso, who lost Sunday’s match to DeMbare, had not won a league championship, back then, but there was a reason for them to believe that they would end their lengthy wait for success, sooner rather than later, with a number of their players touching the heavens.
For it was in 1987 that the late Mercedes ‘’Rambo’’ Sibanda, one of the finest players of his generation, blazed a trail as he became the first Bosso star to win the Soccer Star of the Year award, leading the way for a number of others, from the country’s oldest team, to follow his path.
Peter Ndlovu, who would later transform himself into the greatest Warrior of all-time, won the Soccer Star of the Year in back-to-back seasons in 1990 and 1991, in the colours of Bosso, while Zenzo Moyo followed suit in 2000 and Dazzy Kapenya in 2002.
Back then, in 1987, Zimbabwe Saints were quite a formidable outfit in the domestic Premiership and ensured that the City of Kings would get one of the major pieces of silverware as they won the Castle Cup, then the country’s biggest knock-out football tournament.
That triumph in that knock-out tournament was just the warning in 1987, if the other teams needed, from Saints that they were good enough to become champions again, something which they achieved the following year in style, powered by one of the finest teams ever assembled on the domestic scene.
Chauya Chikwata, guided by coach Roy Baretto, went on a 22-match unbeaten run that season as they became the first club from outside the capital to win the league championship, since Independence, ending Harare clubs’ dominance of the marathon.
Last year, FC Platinum, a football club that is from President Mnangagwa’s home province, also made history when they became the first team, from outside Harare and Bulawayo, to be crowned league champions since Independence.
The Zvishavane miners also became only the second side, in more than half-a-century, from outside the country’s two main cities, to be crowned champions after St Paul’s Musami did it in 1966.
In between the two milestone political events, in the last 30 years, the domestic top-flight league has seen Highlanders winning their first league championship in 1990 and also winning the first title race in the era of the modern Premiership three years later.
CAPS United, the country’s third biggest football franchise, also won their first league championship, since Independence, in 1996 where their success story was powered by a mean machine which had been assembled by coach Steve Kwashi.
The league has also seen a number of clubs, who were good enough to be crowned champions, disbanding along the way — Black Aces in 1992, Amazulu in 2003, Monomotapa in 2008, Gunners in 2009 and Motor Acting in 2010.
Thirty years ago, the Warriors had not even qualified for the AFCON finals and now, ahead of their trip to Brazzaville for a battle against Congo next month, they find themselves top of their group and having dined with the aristocrats of African football three times.
Back then, the stars of the national team were the likes of the late Stanley ‘’Sinyo’’ Ndunduma, the late Shackman Tauro, the late Mashinkila-Khumalo, the late Sibanda and the late David Mwanza.
Max Makanza, who is now based in Germany, was also part of that national team and, 30 years later, his son could have been playing for the Warriors in Brazzaville if his passport issue had been sorted out in time.
The Warriors Results in 1987
23/12/1987 Zanzibar (neutral) won 1-0 — CECAFA semi-final 20/12/1987 Zambia (neutral) draw 2-2 — CECAFA Round One 16/12/1987 Uganda (neutral) draw 0-0 — CECAFA Round One 13/12/1987 Malawi (neutral) draw 1-1 — CECAFA Round One 17/10/1987 Nigeria (away) lost 0-2 04/10/1987 Nigeria (home) draw 0-0
18/07/1987 KENYA (away) draw 0-0 — AFCON
05/07/1987 KENYA (home) draw 1-1 AFCON (Ndunduma 76) 21/06/1987 Swaziland (home won 6-1 (Tauro, Mashinkila-Khumalo x2, Chunga x2, Makanza)
14/06/1987 Malawi (away) lost 1-2 — Friendly
13/06/1987 Malawi (away) won 4-1 — Friendly
07/06/1987 Swaziland (away) won 2-0 (Tauro, Ndunduma) 26/04/1987 Zambia (home) lost 0-1 Friendly
12/04/1987 MOZAMBIQUE (home) won 3-2 —AFCON (Ndunduma 39, Tauro 63, Chawanda 75)
29/03/1987 MOZAMBIQUE (away) draw 1-1 —AFCON (Chunga 12)
The Warriors Results in 1988
9/11/1988 Kenya (neutral) draw 0-0 (2-3penalties) — CECAFA 17/11/1988 Malawi (away) lost 0-2 — CECAFA
16/11/1988 Malawi (away) draw 0-0 — CECAFA
13/11/1988 Ethiopia (neutral) won 2-1 — CECAFA (Ndunduma, Sibanda)
11/11/1988 Zambia (neutral) draw 1-1 — CECAFA (Gumbo) 08/11/1988 Uganda [neutral] draw 0-0 — CECAFA 07/08/1988 Zambia (away) lost 0-2 — Friendly
04/06/1988 Zambia (away) lost 2-3 — Friendly