By Phillip Zulu
The raging debate about who is the GOAT in Zimbabwean football has always been such an intense and sensitive subject.
What is so fascinating is how fans passionately respond with opinions that reflect their partisan standing over rational interactions based on longevity, contribution and achievements.
The qualities that an athlete possess, exhibit and execute, locally and internationally on a measured spectrum of consistency, at their peak performance, gives insight to every judgment posted in favour or against.
Football fans have always shown their partisan feelings during such debates.
It highlights their intrinsic feelings of glorifying their heroes and, without adding more fuel to the troubled waters of this discourse, brings heated arguments and extreme parallels of blind allegiance to their yesteryear heroes.
The fact that longevity is the key, in any serious attempt to scrutinise, analyse and critique one’s performance over a given time, galvanises all informed opinions that interact with this debate.
The debate about Moses “Bambo” Chunga and Peter “Nsukuzonke” Ndlovu is a welcome platform to engage our thought processes of how our football knowledge is indexed, on the divide and on the broader scale.
These two fine footballers represent a huge divide in terms of opinions, basic understanding and a refined analytical framework that always tilts in favour of Peter Ndlovu at every turn.
I have never engaged in this debate on partisanship lines, neither have I ever entered the fray on tribal politics nor dislike of any individual.
I sought to review their performances over a given timeframe, right up to the top world football leagues and international tournaments.
There’s a huge gap between Chunga and Peter which most people ignorantly, and arrogantly sideline, which is the key to a more amicable informed outcome.
Chunga burst onto the local scene as a player eyeing maturity, despite being young, he sent the DeMbare fans into frenzy with his deft touches, dribbles and goal-scoring prowess.
He had a good run in local football and on the continent and inspired Dynamos to some success stories.
He terrorised defenders with great artistry of both feet and there are two such games I will never forget — one was the Chibuku Cup final in 1985 against Highlanders.
His pin-point passes, free-kicks and corner kicks from both flanks, using the left foot on the right flank and the right foot on the left, were something special.
I also remember one of his very last of his games, before he left for Belgium, against RioDairibord at Rimuka.
He brought Kadoma to a standstill as he tormented our defence of Jonah Chivhima, Abraham Mwanza, Gilbert Phiri and Abel Kolowa with his unpredictable twists and turns en-route to scoring a brace.
Max Lunga got the other goal.
Dynamos fans have been waiting for another Chunga.
In about five years, he provided memories for the DeMbare supporters, which can last a life-time. He always seemed at his best in the big games, especially against the North African giants of that time.
Peter played for a short period on the local scene but showed glimpses of the magical left-footed speedy winger whose fearless instincts tore defences apart.
For a 16-year-old youngster, to enter the local football league with such an imposing ability, was unbelievable.
His trickery against established English players, while turning out for Coventry City, was something special.
Aged just 17, he became the first African footballer, in the English Premiership, something that has never been repeated by any other foreign player.
As a practicing coach in England, I have never seen such an extraordinary achievement being equated.
It’s historic, incredible and the stuff of talismen, which explains his hat-trick against Liverpool at Anfield.
Peter and Moses are two opposite sides of the same coin we have in our football treasury, the kind of players we sorely miss in this day and age, as our football sinks into mediocrity.
My only disappointment with Peter is that he didn’t play inter-club continental football for a European club, that should have been the spice on the cake.
Knowledge Musona, Benjani Mwaruwari, Khama Billiat, Freddy Mkwesha, well, they are totally different in many ways and also depict the underlying issues that are highly overlooked.
Musona went to German at a very youthful age of 19 and struggled to make an impact, that alone signals his pedigree compared to the two perennial contenders (Peter and Moses).
He even took a soft option when he trekked back to South Africa, which halted his progress. Mkwesha played in a league that was less highlighted in Zimbabwe.
I am privileged to be related to one football legend who also played with him in Portugal, Ferrando Duarte, who came from Maputo.
Peter’s pedigree at the highest levels of top European football gives him the edge, but talent wise, he and Moses had it in abundance.
They are the best to have come from our local game.
However, I always wonder if Archieford Chimutanda, Joel Shambo, Stanley Ndunduma, Edward Katsvere or Tanny Banda, would have made a similar impact if they had been afforded the same chances like Peter and Moses.
Because, I still believe, in terms of rare and raw talent, Archieford Chimutanda was the best but again, he didn’t have the longevity in the game for a proper introspection.
Injuries ravaged his career while a mixture of high-profile disciplinary issues ended his adventure and quest for greatness. The Herald