By Anesu Chakanetsa
WHEN the Warriors play Bafana Bafana of South Africa this afternoon at the gigantic National Sports Stadium (NSS), they should play with their hearts beating to the rhythm: ‘The song of the lost legends’.
Maybe they should pass though Gwanzura and Rufaro Stadia where the great George ‘Mastermind’ Shaya used to dazzle, where Joe ‘Kode’ Mugabe used to roam the midfield and where Misheck Chidzambwa (then Marimo) and David Mandigora used to shine in Dynamos colours.
Unfortunately due to COVID-19 protocols, Dynamos and CAPS United, Shaya and Mugabe’s respective clubs, have not played competitive soccer since May.
Football clubs in Harare have lost a lot this year.
In fact, football has been left poorer this year, considering the losses of some prominent soccer giants (Chidzambwa, Mandigora, Simon Sachiti of Dynamos, Shepherd Bwanya, Anthony Kambani, ex-midfielder Butler Masango, Steve Kwashi and Mugabe).
The scourge of COVID-19 has brought so many heartaches, not only in Zimbabwe but worldwide.
Bayern Munich gave a great send-off to arguably Germany’s all time football great, Gerd Muller, the German Bomber.
Muller died last month and had his minutes of honour when Bayern Munich played Schalke in the opening match of this season’s Bundesliga.
Muller’s Bundesliga scoring record was broken by the Polish ace Robert Lewandowski in May.
But no-one has so far broken George ‘Mastermind’ Shaya’s record of being Zimbabwe’s all time greatest footballer by virtue of being the only player to be a Soccer Star-of-the-Year five times.
Scenes at his funeral in Glen Norah were somber yet refreshing. Somber because no-one could come to terms with what had happened — loosing a legend, but refreshing because great stories where told about the same.
The scenes just revealed how Shaya was a respected cadre in society.
In his 2019 interview with sportscaster Ashley Tekiwa on one of Zimbabwe’s radio stations, Shaya said football is not all about individual brilliance.
Asked if he thought he was Zimbabwe’s all time greatest footballer, he said: “I don’t put that in mind, in football we have 11 players and we all play complementing each other.”
Nowadays, there are many who do not admit that their brilliance is complemented by others.
Shaya’s football skills went on to catch the attention of the then Rhodesia Prime Minister Ian Smith.
And then came Mugabe (Joe) in the 1980s and 1990s.
He died in the UK last month and was recently laid to rest.
He is survived by his wife Jennifer and three children.
Mugabe, who relocated to the UK at the turn of the millennium, was just a few weeks shy of his 53rd birthday.
He was co-captain of CAPS United when they won their first league championship post-independence in 1996.
Mugabe had a stellar career in the Green Machine (CAPS United) colours which saw him being nominated Soccer Star-of -the-Year finalist four times in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2001.
The former midfield kingpin was also the CAPS United Players’ Player-of-the-Season, a record four times in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2001.
Fortunately, his body came back home before the Warriors World Cup qualifier against South Africa.
Zimbabwe has never qualified for any World Cup tournament, even during the Shaya and Mugabe era.
Qualifying for the World Cup should be a great honour to the legends who have passed on during this COVID-19 era.