By Lovemore Dube
Shuttling between Prince Edward High School and the senior national team camp was life for two exciting football prospects of the 1990s.The mention of Stewart Murisa and partner in crime Alois Bunjira sent shivers down the spines of opponents. There were just irresistible not to note in any match where they played together.
It was a combination brewed in the streets of Zengeza Section in Chitungwiza, Harare’s dormitory city. The two lads came from the same neighbourhood and were afflicted to the soccer bud at an early age. A compromise was struck where their antagonist sides only played against each other provided either was available for the opponents.
Murisa would not be allowed to play as an infield player. He would play as a goalkeeper with the opposition wary of the damage if allowed to play infield.
“I started playing football at an early age. I joined club football early with Alois Bunjira developing together from Darryn T juniors’ Under-14s after being identified by Never Gombera (late).
“I did not stay long on the development and was lucky to stumble on equally gifted peers like Lloyd Chitembwe, Felix Antonio, Bunjira and Gift Muzadzi so much that we were promoted from the Under-16 side straight into the Darryn T reserve team.
“I remember winning the Bonar Industries Cup against a Highlanders team coached by Ali Dube boasting of Wayne Albertyn and Thabani Moyo, very talented guys,” said Murisa.
After a few matches weeks after Chitembwe had debuted for Darryn T, Murisa got his turn against Tanganda.
“It was a good afternoon’s performance where senior players welcomed me and guided me on the field of play. After the match Wieslaw Grawboski was full of praise for me,” said Murisa, one of a few players capped at Under-17, 20, 23 and senior side.
His breakthrough season was 1991 and the following year he won his first major accolade, the Castle Cup.
He stayed with the club up to 1994, earning a move to Poland facilitated by Grawboski. After a few months he was back in the country in the books of Blackpool who were to have a stellar run in the Cup Winners Cup with the likes of Collins Kabote, Masimba Dinyero, Ernest Chirambadare and Joseph Dube. He recalls with nostalgia some of his teammates at Darryn T, players like Chitembwe, Antonio, Japhet Mparutsa, Forbes Ndaba and Mpumelelo who would later move to Caps United.
In 1996 Murisa made a move that would define his football career. By then he was already an established star who had even won the Cosafa Under-20 title and been called up to the Warriors set up. He was part of the famed Dream Team side regarded as having been one of the best national teams ever assembled.
“We had a good introduction to the national team. Alois and I were schoolboys. You can imagine being called up to a side with great players like the late Francis Shonhayi, Mercedes Sibanda, Willard Khumalo, Rahman Gumbo, Madinda Ndlovu and Ephraim Chawanda. We trained with the team and joined our classmates at school. It was quite an experience we went through and enjoyed.
“The guys, a majority of them were absolute professionals. They guided us in camp and gave us tips on how to conduct ourselves and work on improving on the field,” said Murisa.
The year 1996 goes down as one of the best for Caps United and Murisa.
“I think we won everything there was to win on the domestic scene except the Castle Cup. I had a telepathic combination with Alois drawn from our junior days with Marisa FC and Hotspurs in Chitungwiza. I was crowned Soccer Star of the Year in 1996.
I had a season to remember and we grabbed the championship with a squad that was terrific. Those were our best years, I remember the pulsating displays we dished out which were good enough to earn me a move to AmaZulu in South Africa.
I scored 10 goals in my debut season and two years later I was with Seven Stars who were to disband after joining forces with Cape Town Spurs to form Ajax Cape Town,” he said.
He praised John Comitis of Ajax Cape Town for his good stay there which was hit by two knee operations that forced him to return home.
“After two operations I came to recuperate at home. That was the agreement with the club. It must have been around early 2001 that Comitis allowed me to come back home, take a back seat and then try to return to the game.
“I trained at the gym with Muzadzi and would accompany him to training until this other day Chunga advised me to train with them and that my injury was now stuck in the mind. I played for the reserve side and Callisto Pasuwa would be on my flank and give me an easy stroll trying to understand that I was an injured player.
I continued to impress Chunga who eventually persuaded me to sign. I signed and played so well. I looked forward to another season but in the first weeks of 2002 I was suspended with the likes of Memory Mucherahowa for a strike,” said Murisa.
The strike saw him get an offer to join AmaZulu. Muzadzi and Murisa drove to Bulawayo on a Saturday and were booked by AmaZulu at Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel.
“We did not see club President, Delma Lupepe. We were gutted by that and we decided to drive back to Harare. The following day Ernest Maphepha Sibanda called and we were both wanted.
“Muzadzi decided not to come and compete with his good friend Tapuwa Kapini. So I decided to come alone to join Bosso,” said Murisa.
Murisa remembers fondly his 10 goals scored in 2002 up to mid-season that earned him a move to Bidvest Wits.
“Playing alongside Adam Ndlovu was one of my best times. The understanding was one of the best I ever had in my career. The atmosphere at Barbourfields Stadium was something else. The stadium in Bulawayo was always packed to the brim and we enjoyed ourselves. Highlanders supporters are very passionate,” said Murisa.
He said in one match while turning for Darryn T, they beat Highlanders 1-0 at Barbourfields through a late Derby Makinka goal. He said even at the end of the match one would have thought Bosso had won the game with fans happy with what they had seen of the visitors’ performance, especially the Zambian, Makinka and the young boys.
In another match, a 4-1 win Bosso scored late to make it 3-1 but the applause from the fans would have left one feeling Bosso were in the lead. Murisa played for three seasons at Wits and joined City Pillars. He returned home in 2014 after coaching stints in South Africa. The Caf C Level One holder is unattached and has previously been player/ coach and coach at Lake Harvest. He bemoaned lack of sharp shooters.
“We no longer have natural goalscorers. There are a few goals scored and we need to address that as a country,” Murisa said.
The 45-year-old former footie believes former players should be allowed to give back to the sport with appointments at clubs. Sunday News.