By Charles Mabika
After Black Rhinos’ breathtaking 4-0 victory over Triangle United in the Chibuku Super Cup quarter-finals at Ascot last Monday, I received the following e-mail from the army side’s staunch supporter, 23-year-old Malvern “Mario” Mbofana, who also says he’s a big fan of Liverpool and their new striker Mario Balotelli.
“I just love this column, CNN and never miss a copy of my favourite Sunday Mail to find out “what’s cooking” as far as football is concerned!
“I have loved “Chauya Chipembere” since I was eight years old and was at Ascot earlier today where I was just swept into dreamland by the performance of the boys!
“The way we chopped off the sugar-cane to stumps was just unbelievable, Charle. You should have been there! And my best goal was the third one by Lot Chiwunga.
“Now, here is my question: my elder brother Nyasha, who stays in Chitungwiza, tells me that the current Rhinos side is a pale shadow of the great side of the 80s. Is that true CNN?
“I don’t agree with him because what this current side is displaying, especially after the arrival of coach Jostein Mathuthu, is just fantastic. Surely there couldn’t have been a better Rhinos side!
Please, Charle, tell me which is the better side in your opinion.”
Wow! Malvern, you really love “Chauya Chipembere,” hey! For sure, the current side is undoubtedly the most exciting side in the Castle Lager Premiership these days.
Players like Wilson Chakanyuka, Brian “Mabundles” Muzanenhamo, Nesbert Padzarondora, Lot Chiwunga and Milton Kurewa are simply irresistible.
I have much admiration for Jostein Mathuthu and the Rhinos team nowadays, but to compare them with the great 80s side would be folly.
So, sadly, “Mario,” I have to disappoint you and agree with your brother that the Rhinos side that won the top-flight league’s title in their first year (1984) is the finest-ever army side. It’s a record they still hold.
On their way to winning the Northern Region Division One title in 1983, which saw them being promoted into the Super League, they only lost once (1-2 to Proton Stars) in that entire season.
Rhinos were also the first local side to reach the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Club Champions (now known as the African Champions League) in 1985, where they were, unfortunately, knocked out by US Goree of Senegal after winning the first leg 2-0 at Rufaro before losing 0-3 in the return leg in Dakar.
They had shockingly eliminated one of the competition’s pre-tournament favourites, Power Dynamos of Zambia, on their way to the quarter-finals.
The Zambian giants had the likes of the great Alex Chola (late), Peter Kaumba and Michael Musonda in their line-up when they fell to Rhinos in the second round.
Here is a list of that great squad, Malvern, which ruled supreme in the country until the early 90s:
Goalkeepers: Japhet “Short Cat” M’parutsa, Charles Ndebele, Marvellous Munemo (late), Lazarus “Socks” Pararayi
Defenders: Simon “AK” Mugabe (late), Edward Matsika, Lovemore Chikunha (late), Ernest “Mr Cool” Mutano, William “Weeds” Chikauro, Gift “Shaft” Makoni, Edward Mukucha, Fanuel Nyamukapa, Droment Chirova, Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera, Portipher Munhenga, Jack Mutandagai
Midfielders: Hamid “Muzukuru” Dhana, Stanford “Stix” M’tizwa, Langton “Govender” M’timba, Collins Dube, Edward Dube, Bernard “Bhenza” Timbenawo, Paul Nyama, Johannes Madhiri.
Forwards: Jerry “Dzungu” Chadawa (late), Maronga “The Bomber” Nyangela, Stanley “Sinyo” Ndunduma, Simon Machorani (late), Mike “Mabhurukwa” Abrahams, Lesley “Muchinda” Kamuyoyo, Gift Madzeka, David Mukahanana (late), Peter “Nyama” Sanderson, William “Cooler” Greene (late), “Ginger” Smith, Sebastian Tambo, Stewart “Jomo” Kembo (late).
Coaches: Shepherd Murape, Ashton “Papa” Nyazika (late)
Manager: Adam Laher
That, in simple terms, Malvern, was an awesome squad!
Till next week, remember to take care of your loved ones and each other. It’s bye bye for now.
Please, send your feedback to [email protected] or WhatsApp: 0714665478. The Sunday Mail