By Don Makanyanga
The most talked-about local football transfers have for years largely centred on those that dared to cross the great divide between Dynamos and Highlanders, or between CAPS United and DeMbare.
There was one shock move, however, that sent tongues wagging in the 2003 Premiership season when Bosso star defender Dazzy Kapenya dumped the Bulawayo giants to join lowly Sporting Lions.
Kapenya had reached his crowning moment at the end of the 2002 season when he was named the Soccer Star of the Year.
He had also inspired Highlanders to a fourth successive championship title under the guidance of the late Eddie May, as the Bosso juggernaut became the talk of town.
Kapenya was an integral member of the Warriors side that was chasing a maiden appearance at the African Cup of Nations.
But at the start of the 2003 Premier League season, the former Highlanders defender had other ideas.
It was a rare move that many thought was driven by the allure of lucrative financial rewards, but the 44-year-old former defender insists to this day that is was “purely a football decision”.
“My move to Sporting Lions was not inspired by anything. My contract had expired and they were willing to have me on board, and I could have gone to any team. It was a choice that I made and sometimes not everyone is happy with choices that we make,” said Kapenya.
As fate would have it, after moving from the dizzy heights that Bosso had scaled, Kapenya found himself in unfamiliar territory as Sporting Lions were to fight relegation.
From a fan-filled Barbourfields Stadium to virtually empty Harare stadia, Kapenya describes the change of environment as an exciting experience that he had to get used to.
“From winning the championship to fighting relegation was an exciting experience. I gave it my best even though I was not used to playing in empty stadiums, but the good thing is that we managed to avoid relegation that same year at Sporting Lions, and the demands at Sporting Lions compared to Highlanders were very different,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say I have regrets or disappointments that I would wish to correct in my football career. Whatever happened was supposed to happen, life is a learning curve and a teacher in itself, so I learnt a lot through my football career. I have no regrets.”
Having been part of the history-making Highlanders that scooped four consecutive league titles, Kapenya is the last player from Highlanders to be crowned Soccer Star of the Year. Since then, the top gong has eluded Bosso players.
Kapenya, however, believes the former champions are on course to re-assert their dominance.
“We made history for ourselves and Highlanders as an institution . . . It was an honour to be part of that team and we all still cherish those moments.
“I am aware that I am the last Highlanders player to win the Soccer Star Award, but I am very positive there are many more Bosso sons who will win it in the near future. It is every player’s dream to win medals as a team and as an individual, and it is just a matter of time.”
With Highlanders still to win a league championship since 2006, Kapenya has backed the current crop of Bosso players to deliver the championship, as they understand the pressure that comes with playing for the Bulawayo giants.
“It is obviously not good for a team like Bosso to go for such a long period without winning the championship, but I hope and believe that the current players understand the pressure on their shoulders and they will deliver.”
For someone who switched from being an attacking midfielder to a central defender, being crowned Soccer Star of the Year came as a surprise, given the bias towards attacking players.
“Most of the time the credit is given to the strikers and midfielders because they complete the final phase of the game, which is scoring, and I appeal to those with the privilege to select the Soccer Star that they must not overlook our defenders because they are doing a great job at the back.
“It’s very rare for defenders to win the Soccer Star (of the Year Award) but I believe defending is a skill, just like scoring and creating goal-scoring opportunities.”
He also spoke about some of the strikers who gave him a torrid time in his career, singling out former Dynamos forward Tauya Murewa and Joseph Kabwe, who plied his trade with Amazulu.
“There a couple of strikers who used to give me a torrid time but there are two who quickly come to mind — Tauya Murewa and (Joseph) Kabwe from Amazulu,” he said.
Kapenya’s experience as a midfielder would also come in handy in the role that he was given by legendary coach Sunday Chidzambwa in a 3-5-2 formation the former Warriors coach preferred for the national team.
“I used to play as a sweeper under Sunday Chidzambwa in the 3-5-2 formation and I was very much comfortable with the ball; the reason being that I was once an attacking link before I was converted into a defender, so my style of play did not change that much.”
As he reflects on his career, Kapenya revels in being part of the first batch of Warriors to represent the country at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004.
“It was a great experience and honour to represent my country at our first AFCON in Tunisia, rubbing shoulders with some of the finest players in Africa and the world. We learnt a lot and enjoyed the moment.
“It is also good to represent your country at major regional and continental tournaments. I was privileged I did all that,” Kapenya said. The Sunday Mail