The agony of penalty shootouts

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By Chris Mutseyekwa

THE other day I was in Ligi Sports Bar in Mabelreign watching the French Open final between Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal when my attention was disturbed by two young men with vague memories of the 1975 Castle Cup final shootout between Dynamos and Wankie. These two football fans had just been watching the Warriors vs Mali game. They had wandered into the distant past following the twice-taken penalty by Knowledge Musona. Because of the tension and the great expectations among spectators, the more excited of the two said he feared that there might have been serious disturbances if Musona had failed to convert. He had dim memories of the Castle Cup final penalty shootout between Wankie and Dynamos which resulted in a fatal riot after the Glamour Boys had been beaten. This was the first cup final in Zimbabwe to be decided by the penalty shootout lottery. The two young men, who were obviously not tennis enthusiasts, innocently sought clarification from me. Briefly, I told them what I still remembered about the game and moved to another TV set where I could continue watching this fascinating battle between Nadal and Federer without more interruptions. I was disappointed with Federer’s loss. However, back home I had time to look back at that epic cup finals between Wankie and Dynamos. I remember on the eve of that game, I was kwaMike where all talk centred around the outcome of that final. KwaMike was a very wellknown shebeen in Kambuzuma Section 3. There were plenty of them in Section 3. Among the more popular were kwaKabvuu, kwaSister, kwaMbuya, kwaChikwanha and kwaSora. That time, shebeens were popular drinking places because of the availability of Chibuku beer which was illegal in Salisbury and its municipal beerhalls. However, the opaque beer provided in these beerhalls was very unpopular. Hence the presence of many shebeens in townships where both Chibuku and clear beer were sold. Frequently police would raid these shebeens and confiscate all the Chibuku. Patrons were not touched. There were attempts to stop Chibuku beer deliveries from getting into Salibury. But somehow, shebeens were always well supplied with this illegal brew. There was this story about this ambulance, which was stopped at a roadblock as it sounded its siren hysterically. No patient was found in the ambulance but instead scores of crates of Chibuku beer blue packs. No wonder they say where there is a will there is a way. This way, shebeens continued to flourish. One remarkable thing about these shebeens was the pleasant atmosphere that prevailed there. This was because people who frequented the same shebeen became a closely-knit group. After all, they didn’t have many options because at night they were not allowed to ‘loiter’ in town, the preserve of the whites then. Because patrons at each shebeen knew each other well, they became useful discussion centres. That is where stories about what was really happening on the war front were told. That’s where eyewitness accounts of helicopters that had been downed by liberation fighters were heard. On this particular evening, however, the topical issue was the Castle Cup final replay between Dynamos and Wankie. The first encounter had ended in a two-all draw. What still stands out in this game were the two wonder goals by Ernest Kamba of Dynamos. The first was a screamer from the left flank, which arrowed into the back of the net, leaving Posani Sibanda, the Wankie goalkeeper, hapless. The second was identical, only that this time he took aim from the right flank. It was the heroics of Barry Dhaka and Sibanda which saw Wankie equalise. I still remember how Sibanda twisted and turned in mid-air to punch out for a corner a shot which had changed direction when intercepted by George Shaya. This, plus the exploits of Dhaka, swayed a number of patrons at kwaMike to predict a Wankie victory in the replay. There was a lot of betting involving beer and substantial sums of money and a boom in sales was expected after the match. This time Wankie were the first to score and it looked like that goal was enough to see them through until the hero of the first game, Sibanda, made a costly blunder. He collected a loose ball and under no pressure at all, inexplicably threw it to a grateful Kamba, who slotted it into the back of the nets to leave the score at 1- all at full-time. The dreaded penalty shootout then followed. Both teams scored each of the first five penalties. Then came the sudden-death stage. Wankie scored their first one. In response, a Dynamos defender, I think he was called Phiri, blasted his effort well off target. Dynamos had lost the cup final. Since this was the first cup final shootout, many spectators were ignorant of the rules. Many thought there was going to be another replay. However, when they saw the Wankie captain lifting the Castle Cup they realised that Dynamos had lost. Pandemonium broke out. There was a riot in which one person died. Celebrations at kwaMike were subdued since most of the patrons were mourning the defeat of Dynamos. The next football season, Wankie coach Jack Meager left the colliery club to manage Chibuku Shumba, a new club formed after the dissolution of Highfield Tornadoes. Kizito Tembo and Posani Sibanda from Wankie formed the nucleus of this new great team together with Topsy Robertson and Peter ‘Thunderboots’ Nyama. Missing penalties has always been a source of agony for footballers. What comes immediately to mind is the penalty miss by Asamoah Gyan of Ghana in the game against Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. The whole of Africa was behind Ghana as they hoped the lastminute spot kick would see the continent’s first team to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals. Ghana were eventually eliminated in the subsequent penalty shootout.

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