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Somewhere, along the line, we lost the magicians

19 Feb 2021 at 06:46hrs | Views
WHEN we mourn the dearth of quality players, standards and coaching methods, we are perennially accused of being too obsessed with the past. The ''Know-it-all" brigade of nostalgic, and disgruntled former players, or pundits.

Charles "CNN" Mabika's recent observation, on the quality of offensive play, especially the tactical role of the wide players, has steered the hornet's nest.

Every time I look back at our past generations of footballers, there's a distinct emotional attachment to the most gifted footballers, we followed and watched. We kept watching them display their dribbling artistry, or offensive architectural skills, which illuminated our top league's encounters.  

A weekend fixture of Dynamos v Black Aces at Gwanzura was a blockbuster game that raised every expectation.

Game changers were in abundance, the likes of Edward Katsvere, George Shaya and July "Jujuju" Sharara, were always a handful.

Aces had the likes of Benard and George Kuwana, Benard "Machipisa" Dzingai and Archieford "Chehuchi" Chimutanda.

Who will forget the day when Japhet "Short Cat" M'parutsa made his debut at Gwanzura against Black Aces?  

We saw it, the delicate passing, an amazing goal, as the sprawling Dynamos defence of brothers (Misheck and Sunday Chidzambwa) and M'parutsa, in one corner of the goal, as the ball went home to the delight of the Aces fans.

Not to be outdone, Katsvere intervened with a wicked dribbling mazy run at Fresh Chamarenga, to score a brilliant goal, and settle matters, with a streak of genius arrogance.  

Mabika's observation is valid, contemporary and a fair introspection of a collapsed game.

Our vivid memories, of how the best dribblers in the past performed, is not some imaginary stuff. It is the reality of the nightmare of how our football has been destroyed by charlatans, and deranged opportunists, who have invaded the game with impunity.

Nearly every game I watched at Gwanzura, Rufaro, Rimuka, the hallmarks of offensive tactics, and play, were engrossing.

Wonder Chaka, Nkulumo Donga and Onias Musana, of the defunct Bata Power, were some top architects of the dribbling wizardry. With Tanny Banda, Madinda and Peter Ndlovu, the Bosso machinery had all the arsenals to create goals, through dribbling, and creative intelligent offensive play.  

CAPS United had Stanley Ndunduma, Stanford "Stix" Mutizwa, Joel "Jubilee" Shambo, Oscar "Simbimbino" Motsi, Edwin Farayi and Gift Mudangwe.  

Great coaches always learn new methods, they always reflect on the past, and seek to make things better by adapting to new trends.  This scenario is in direct contrast with our local settings of coaching.

Former Zimbabwean footballers are known for their reluctance to engage the educational route, of re-learning the game, from other successful programmes abroad.  

This not an attack on those that do not have the resources to do so. But, judging by the number of our former players, who have managed to play in decent leagues abroad, just ask them how far they have gone with advanced coaching modules?

Or, getting any attachments with their former top clubs and the answer is usually a sad NO.  I have been to many different professional clubs in Europe, and one thing that you see, is that most former players, from different countries, always stay behind, to engage in learning new systems.

They gain experience, and expand their horizons, as they go forward.

Back in the day, we had good coaches, who could teach dribbling skills, and I remember very well the likes of John Rugg, Edgar Ricardo (former Black Aces owner and Benfica player), Majuta Mpofu, Alois Patsika, Peter Nyama, Freddy Mkwesha, Jimmy "Daddy" Finch.

Then, there was  Obadiah Sarupinda, Charles "Dissa" Mandizvidza and Steven "The Dude" Kwashi. These are coaches who encouraged dribbling. What we are seeing today is shoddy coaching with our coaches using methods that are outdated, sterile, and not fit for the purpose.

Imitating what we watch on live games, when passing is highly applied, does not mean that all coaching manuals are indexed on one aspect. Neither does that qualify as a the perfect module of coaching about pass, pass, as is the case with our football.

It will take a very strong-minded generation, and leadership, to redeem ourselves from this mess.  Bravo to Mabika, for being proactive and progressive, in reminding our football folks that we once had some dribbling wizards, whose skills were second to none.  

I fondly remember our Under-20 team, which went to play in Moscow, Russia, just after Independence in 1980. Shambo, Ndunduma, Chimutanda, Stanford Ntini, and others, impressed against the likes of Claudio Cannigia, and a young Diego Maradona then, when we lost in the quarter-finals of the World Coca-Cola Youth Tournament.  

What we witness today is a tragedy of how the game, on the domestic front, has lost its magic. We are all to blame and that is why, now, we don't know where to find the next generation of dribbling wizards.

In the past, when some of us used to play and watch our top-flight league, there were a lot of these beautiful artists. Those who died must durely be turning in their graves right now.

Source - the herald
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