Trickery and a few audacious attempts here and there to amuse the crowd is usually the hallmark of such a light spar. It’s a game designed for the proficient and it’s usually the defenders and goalkeepers’ nightmare.
This is a game where the skills of, for instance, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha comes into play and the former Super Eagles star usually does not disappoint — he talks to the ball and it obeys.
He treated us to some of his bewildering dexterity the last time he came into this stadium, but that time it was a full throttled punch-up in a World Cup qualifier.
It is one match many would love to forget because the Warriors were hammered 3-0 under the guidance of Rahman Gumbo, but it is also a match where Okocha’s mesmerising trickery with the ball lingers in the minds of many.
That the now retired former Nigeria skipper is one of the many stars of the continent lined up for some fun in the park, adds glitter to this event set for Saturday. This time he is back to entertain and, importantly, help a colleague and one of Zimbabwe’s best football exports, Benjani Mwaruwari, in his bid to raise funds for his trust which seeks to kick off with the establishment of a football academy.
Mwaruwari’s best friend, Nwanko Kanu, is another prime suspect for the show-off. Mwaruwari is officially bowing out of international football, and what a way to say good-bye with all former stars and those still in the game helping him as he kicks the ball for the last time as a Warrior.
This is the first time that a football son is receiving such a tribute in this country, yet it’s sad that Mwaruwari decided to honour himself as opposed to the football administrators taking the initiative.
He might not be the best talent this country has produced, but his contribution to the Warriors’ cause in varying degrees deserves such an exit. So many stars have come and gone and despite very little success on the continent or global stage, many played their part for the game to be where it is.
Peter Ndlovu instantly comes to mind, Moses Chunga features in that aspect, Bruce Grobelaar’s contribution cannot be over emphasised and the same can be said about the late Shacky Tauro to mention but these few.
Such honour was deserved and should have been bestowed. Honour for a player like Peter Ndlovu, whose decade-long service in England and the Warriors thrust Zimbabwe on the map, is still important.
Ndlovu was known everywhere by almost everyone who cares about the game, and if such players as those coming into the country tomorrow were asked to help honour “The flying elephant,” they would certainly oblige.
It’s time Zimbabweans made it a habit of thanking the people who entertained them and more importantly helped give them joy and glory. Zifa will soon attempt something of this sort for the Mighty Warriors ex-stars Rosemary Mugadza, Nomsa Moyo and Sithethelelwe Sibanda whom many will remember as “Kwinji 15” and the move should be applauded.
Even clubs should do the same and not wait until a player is dead before organising a match in honour. We thank Benjani for setting the tone and we hope we will see a truly world-class football academy that will produce future stars for this country.
For now thank you for your efforts to bring in man of the moment, Didier Drogba, allowing us to catch a glimpse of Yaya Toure, affording us what may be a life time opportunity to see Emmanuel Adebayor in person. In these and others you have brought the Barclays Premier League to the National Sports Stadium.
Thank you again for those goals, those assists and telling them in France that there is football in Zimbabwe. We will fondly remember your roles in deciding one of the fiercest derbies in the world, the Manchester derby.
And again, thank you for your attempt to roll the years by bringing back Okocha. We will be there to see you make your Warriors bow and hope to see you one day in the dugout.