By Lot Chitakasha
Let me start this article by referring you dear reader to visit Youtube and enjoy Dennis Bergkamp’s best moments on a football pitch. I make this reference because the man redefined the meaning of the beautiful game, he simply summarised it to the beautiful goals. He was capable of the sublime, the outrageous, the audacious and indeed the unbelievable.
Many football legends have produced some brilliant moments on the pitch, Diego Maradona, Saeed Al-Owarain, Tony Yeboah, George Weah, David Beckham, Marco Van Basten, Zinedine Zidane among others but for me the “Non Flying Dutchman” had the ability to mesmerise all the time. And yes, beautiful goals have been scored in Zimbabwe too, this forms the basis of this article.
Without the benefit of videos, it is very difficul to come up with the best goals ever scored in the Zimbabwe football fraternity. What is universally accepted is that we have had some great players over the years and they scored great goals. Unfortunately the current generation of fans cannot enjoy some of these goals because they are not easily available. Whatever footages are there are the preserve of a few who guard them jealously and rarely share.
Allow me to share the best goals that I witnessed, heard or read about from our football world. It is a subjective view, an opinion so do not crucify me if my list does not satisfy your aesthetic views. A subject of this nature will open debate and it is that debate that I seek to encourage.
Here are mine in no order of preference.
1. Stanley “Samora” Chirambadare- In a match against Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium, Samora as he is known in football circles produced a moment of magic. It was a Zifa Cup final and Highlanders were leading 2-1 with time running out for Dembare.
Samora decided to go on an overlapping run from his left back position. It looked like one last throw of the dice by the bearded defender until he tried the audacious. He released a cross cum shot which caught Peter “Captain Oxo” Nkomo of his line and nestled into the roof of the nets.
The fans who were on their way out suddenly rushed back but they had missed Samora ‘s moment of magic. Fans still debate this goal, did he mean it, did he intend to score? I asked the legend about this goal and he simply said, “Chipo chaNyadenga…it is God’s gift..”
2. Peter Ndlovu- On 16 August 1992, Zimbabwe gave South Africa who were emerging from years of international isolation a football baptism of fire. They hammered them 4-1 and the pick of the goals was the one scored by Peter Ndlovu. It was a moment of magic which Zimbabweans will never forget, a moment which they should not be allowed to forget.
Peter received a pass from elder brother, the late Adam and found himself by the corner flag facing two defenders. It looked like a dead end, but this was Peter at his youthful best. He attacked the defenders who retreated, squeezed himself past them and suddenly found himself face to face with the goalkeeper. In a moment of genius, he did a double shuffle with the ball hitting one leg then the other leaving the keeper bemused and clutching thin air. The fans did not so much celebrate but turned to each other to ask, “Did you see that?”. It was phenomenal!
3. Peter Ndlovu- That man again, this time against Angola. He received the ball with his back to goal, chested it and quickly released it to John Phiri . He then went into space to receive the return pass. Before the Angolans could recover, Peter released a screamer into the far corner of the net. One magazine ran out of superlatives to describe the goal and simply provided a diagram of the move. It was a great goal worth of that illustration.
4. Samson “Sister” Choruwa- He was a star destined for the top but injury curtailed his progress. However, before cruel fate intervened, Samson showed us a glimpse of what he was capable of. In a match against Mhangura at Rufaro he produced moment which immortalised him in my mind. He gained possession deep in midfield and played a one two with a colleague.
He ran into space and received the ball once more. He was in a tight angle, but he still managed to bend the ball into the far post. It was a well crafted goal which revealed two qualities, a gifted footballer but also a thinking one. That move was deliberate but unfortunately such magical moments were denied us by fate. Curse that injury!
5. Moses “Razorman” Chunga– Mukoma Francis Nechironga , the former Caps United, Rio Dairiboard and Arcadia United described this one for me. In a match between Dynamos and Arcadia United, Moses Chunga scored one of the best goals ever seen at Rufaro Stadium. Garnet “Mutorashanga” Muchongwe , the Dynamos right back went on one of his overlapping runs.
He flighted the ball into the box where Moses was lurking. Razorman allowed the ball to drop over his shoulder and as he it dropped he hit it with such power that Nat Bismark in goals for Arcadia only dived when the ball had hit the nets. Picture Zidane scoring that Champions league goal against Bayern Leverkusen in 2002 and picture of that Razorman goal emerges. It was brilliant!
6. Archford “Chehuche” Chimutanda- “The control, the execution, the goal and the celebration.” This is how one paper described Chimutanda’s goal against Caps United in one cup final. A corner kick was flighted into the box and Duncan “Zico” Ellison came out to punch the ball.
The ball reached Archie who was just outside the 18 area box. In a moment of exquisite football skills, he chested the ball, cushioned it with his thigh before he released a delicate chip into the roof of the nets. The whole stadium rose to salute the midfield genius, for that was what he was was-a football genius.
7. Esrom “Yellow Man” Nyandoro – One of Zimbabwe ‘s best midfield anchor man did not score many goals but the one he scored against Cameroon will live long in the memory of all. He hit the ball with so much ferocity that if the keeper had not ducked, it would have taken his head off. For its sheer velocity, it was voted as one of the best goals of the tournament.
8. Paul Gundani- When he was introduced as a substitute in a game against Cameroon, the fans booed and whistled. To them, it was a tactical blunder, the team needed goals, why pull out a striker and introduce a defender. But they had not reckoned with what the “Iron man” could do. He picked the ball and went on a run, the opponents retreated and from 30 metres he unleashed a thunderbolt which beat the goalkeeper all systems out. It silenced the critics, it deflated the opponents and it launched the Warriors to a comprehensive 4-1 win over the Indomitable Lions.
9. Oliver Kateya- We called him “Bla Ole, Monitoring Force,Flying Saucer or simply Baba vaJoy”,”Mazita kupfekerana” as Mukoma Choga Tichatonga Gavhure would say. He was a cult hero and this status was cemented when he scored a ferocious free kick in a match against Kampala City Council. No goalkeeper could have saved that one.
10. Highlanders Football Club via Rodrick “The Prince” Mutuma- it would be unfair to just talk about a bygone era only as if football is dead. In the past season, Highlanders FC scored one of the best team goals that I have ever seen in our local league.
A total of ten players were involved in the move, the ball was switched to the wing. An inch perfect cross was delivered and Rodrick Mutuma obliged by planting a header into the nets. It left Triangle FC players bemused and it restored my faith in Zimbabwe football which has been on a downward spiral of late.
These dear reader are my best but I received a word of caution from Mukoma Francis Nechironga. “Do not forget Shaw “Kojak” Handriade’ s 40 metre screamer against Orlando Pirates, What about David ”Fembera Fembera” Muchineripi’s grass cutter against Cameroon, Maronga”The Bomber” Nyangela once scored one against Swaziland in an under 20 match, pity we were away, and yes George Rollo declared tell them that TnT is back after tearing the nets at Rufaro, they were great goals too.”
Well, I could not argue with the legend, he saw it all, but I only had space for ten. Indeed, coming up with a definitive list is near impossible but as earlier posited, the door remains wide open. Any additions are more than welcome and even subtractions.