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Their never-say-die spirit evoked the spirit of the Dream Team

By Charles Mabika

It surely was one of the, if not the greatest comeback, by the Warriors.

A HUMBLE PRINCE . . . Zimbabwe international midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, congratulates his Warriors teammate, Prince Dube, for scoring the goal which helped the senior national team snatch a point against Algeria at the National Sports Stadium on Monday
A HUMBLE PRINCE . . . Zimbabwe international midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, congratulates his Warriors teammate, Prince Dube, for scoring the goal which helped the senior national team snatch a point against Algeria at the National Sports Stadium on Monday

After going down 0-2 early in the first half, millions of their fans, who were following the match on radio, ZTV or other digital platforms, must have thought the die been cast.

Especially, after a gem of a goal for the Foxes, scored by their skipper and Manchester City forward, Riyad Mahrez.

But, after a masterstroke five-man substitution move by Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, the game was turned on its head at the National Sports Stadium on Monday.

The hosts had pulled one back, through a beauty of a free-kick, taken by Warriors captain Knowledge Musona, just before the break.

Then, a late equaliser from substitute Prince Dube, sealed the point and the belief that this class of Warriors could re-ignite the passion that existed between the nation and its Dream Team in the ‘90s.

Please, forgive me if I am daring to compare this new breed of fighters with the gritty class that came within one match of taking Zimbabwe to her debut appearance at the World Cup finals in 1994.

But, hey, don’t we all dream big, once in a while, or a couple of times, during our lives?

To illustrate just how far I have dared to dream, the following is a list of the 11 comparisons – or should I say similarities – of Monday’s gutsy performers with that great ‘90s Class that was coached by the late Reinhard Fabisch:

Goalkeeper Talbert Shumba confounded his critics, who thought he would be swallowed by the occasion, in his first full and competitive appearance for the Warriors.

The former Chapungu United goalminder made a great save, when the score was 2-1 in the visitors’ favour, when he dived full length to his left, to finger-tip a swerving free-kick from Reda Halaimia.

That moment was what we used to reserve for Bruce Grobbelaar.

Tendayi Darikwa was Mercedes Sibanda re-born.

The Nottingham Forest player (my man-of-the-match) in that encounter, never put a foot wrong as he blocked everything that came his way down his flank and found time to overlap, on a couple of occasions, to float in some crosses.

Divine Lunga became Henry McKop after he replaced Adam Chicksen, on the left wing, with some bullish, one-touch combinations with another substitute, Kuda Mahachi, during a number of moves.

Teenage Hadebe was another Rock of Gibralter as he replicated the prowess of Ephraim Chawanda used to diplay, at the heart of the Warriors defence, as he worked overtime to earn his wages.

Jimmy Dzingayi meted out instant justice — the same way Francis “Sandura” Shonhayi did way back — as he rose in the air, and slid on the surface, to excel in this crucial clash.

In the middle of the park, Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba, who had struggled with his game in the first half, suddenly found his form as he became something closer to arguably the Warriors finest-ever Trojan horse, Benjamin Nkonjera.

Where Nakamba had been flashing the unconvincing long ball, which had no takers before the break, he transformed himself into the neat, and deft, artist that Nkonjera was during those memorable days at the same venue.

Even without a club nowadays, the man whose inclusion had been questioned by some fans – Ovidy Karuru, also known as the Masvingo Mosquito — stung to become a clone of the industrious, John Phiri, after he was introduced in the second half.

Exciting wing wizard Mahachi, with his pace and darting runs, brought back memories of Madinda Ndlovu, as he combined beautifully with Lunga, to float in perfect crosses into the Algerian defence.

Tino Kadewere — who has been doing well in France at his new club Olympique Lyon — toiled tirelessly upfront, just like the great and bustling Agent “Ajira” Sawu did for the Dream Team.

Although Kadewere didn’t score on Monday, he came close on two occasions and kept the visitors’ defence on their toes.

Just like the great “Adamski” (Adam Ndlovu) used to do, after coming in from the bench, the Pretty Prince provided the killer punch that ensured the Warriors would share the spoils after a dominant second half performance.

And, now, enter the king of the Dream Team — Peter Ndlovu. Who was a bull terrier in the national colours.

That’s what his heir-apparent, Knowledge Musona, replicated this time, with a performance for the archives, to drag his men to a point they fully deserved.

Musona led his troops well, with his commanding body language and vocal orders, putting everyone else in check.

He smashed the crossbar with a ferocious free-kick, in the first-half, before curling in a free-kick which, in terms of its beauty, can be compared to any scored at the giant stadium.

What a day it was to be a Warriors fan! The Herald