By Robson Sharuko
STEWART Murisa brought the curtain down on a career spanning more than two decades, in style with a double strike, but his feat was overshadowed by a superb goal by a prophet whose love for football knows no boundaries.
On a day when Zimbabwe football was crowning its latest league champion, as Chicken lnn became the first domestic club with roots in the corporate world to become champions in 19 years, Murisa decided to call time on his illustrious playing career.
Nineteen years to the year he led CAPS United to their first league title since Independence, and was crowned Soccer Star of the Year for his exploits, the man fans called Shutto felt it was time to end his playing days.
That CAPS United success story in 1996 marked the last time a club that was directly owned by a company were crowned champions of Zimbabwe football.
By the time the Green Machine won the league championship again, in 2004 and 2005, CAPS United had long been weaned from the direct ownership of their pharmaceutical fathers and the club was now owned by Twine Phiri.
But even as Shutto said goodbye, by scoring twice in his final official match in the colours of Division One side Lake Harvest of Kariba, his exploits were overshadowed by a sensational goal scored by prophet Walter Magaya for Gunners in the same match.
Introduced at the beginning of the second half in his team’s final ZIFA Northern Region Division One campaign this year, and accorded respect by his players by being given the captain’s armband, Magaya struck with the final kick of the game in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
In the game played in the stadium that the prophet is building at his complex in Waterfalls, whose lush green turf makes a mockery of many Premiership stadiums like Lafarge and Sakubva, Magaya had delighted the partisan home crowd with some touches playing simple pass one-touch football operating wide on the left channel of the midfield.
His team had been leading 1-0 at the time of his introduction, just at the start of the second half, but the 42-year-old Murisa appeared to have grabbed all the headlines with his double strike. His first, the equaliser, came directly from a free-kick, the former Zimbabwe international rolling back the years with a beauty, hit with both power and precision, which whistled past ‘keeper Edmore “ZiKeeper” Sibanda.
His second duly arrived shortly after when he timed his run to perfection and, like the old gunslinger that he has always been, found a pocket of space between the central defenders to drill the ball home from close range.
“I’m done with playing and it was good to score in my last competitive game,” said Murisa, the player/coach who managed to keep his team in Division One.
“I’m happy to have managed to keep the team in the league despite all the challenges that we faced. “We had our financial challenges but even though times were hard for us, l chose not to desert the team because l always felt that l needed the experience that will come in handy when l face bigger challenges in the future.
“I pay tribute to my boys for the way they kept going even when times were tough.” But not even the magic of a retiring Shutto would help him grab the headlines on an afternoon whose storyline will be defined by a sumptuous goal by Magaya, the owner of Gunners who decided in the past few weeks to play the game he loves with a passion.
With Lake Harvest looking to have done enough to secure victory, Magaya had the final say in the game with a lovely last-gasp goal.
The prophet controlled the ball with his right, having drifted to play wide on the right flank, and from an angle just outside the penalty area, turned to pick his spot. He then curled a beauty, with his left foot, towards goal and as the ball floated in the air, time appeared to stand still as the stadium held its breath in anticipation.
Then, as the ball found its target in the far corner, there was an explosion of joy as the partisan crowd invaded the pitch and ran towards the prophet.
For good measure, Magaya even sprinted the entire length of the pitch, with scores of his team’s fans in pursuit, in wild celebrations. And when the madness finally died, the referee blew his whistle to end an extraordinary afternoon.
“It was a good refreshing exercise for me, just having fun with the boys, and I enjoyed the goal, no doubt about that,” Magaya told The Herald after the match.
There could be a fine for the pitch invasion that followed the prophet’s goal but, as his trusted lieutenant, pastor Admire Mhango, later said, there are some fines that are worth paying given that this was a golden moment for them.
There was even time for him to pose for a group picture with the Lake Harvest players, including some who asked him to bless them. The Herald