Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ONE of the finest footballers to ever emerge from Zimbabwe Moses “Bambo” Chunga’s national team career was ended by former Highlanders’ midfield kingpin Rahman Gumbo.
Chunga, a dribbling wizard who made defenders look stupid, went to Belgium where he still commands a lot of respect.
According to another Zimbabwean great Alois Bunjira, the Razorman’s national team dance was brought to an end by Gumbo in the early 1990s when the late German schemer Reinhard Fabisch was in charge of the Warriors.
In an extract from his upcoming book “Alois Bunjira, My Football Journey”, Bunjira says during the Dream Team era, there was a lot of pressure from Dynamos fans and some sections of the media for Fabisch to include the Razorman in his Dream Team squad.
“Fabisch was saying he knew about Chunga’s operation in Germany and the doctors had said Chunga could no longer play at the highest level with great intensity anymore. Chunga insisted he was fit and good enough to play,” writes Bunjira.
He says with the support of Dynamos fans and the press, pressure mounted on Fabisch, who, however, stood his ground arguing that Chunga’s position had young and energetic players like Peter Ndlovu and the late Benjamin Nkonjera.
“The pressure reached boiling point until the Premier Soccer League, Zifa and Fabisch came to an agreement that a match between the Dream Team and the PSL select had to be organised, for Chunga to show that he could still play and deserved a place in the national team. The match was duly organised and pencilled for a Wednesday night at Rufaro Stadium. We were in camp with the Dream Team preparing for a match against Zambia in Lusaka,” writes the former Daryn T and Caps United star player.
He says on the afternoon of the game, there was a pre-match meeting where the starting line-up was announced, but the European based stars, who included Peter Ndlovu, Henry McKop and Agent Sawu, had not yet arrived.
“After the team was announced, Fabisch then called out Rahman and said to him, ‘Rahman, today your job is to mark Moses. I don’t want him to play. This game was organised for him, but I don’t want him in my team. You will make sure he doesn’t touch the ball. Follow him everywhere. Even if he goes to the toilet, you go with him. He will cause trouble in my camp’.
The team then left for Rufaro Stadium, arriving earlier than the PSL select side,” writes Bunjira.
“The PSL select arrived much later when the Stadium was packed to the rafters. For me, that is the only other time I saw Rufaro Stadium so packed, other than during the All-Africa Games in 1995. The noise that greeted the PSL team and cheers for Chunga when he entered the field, one would have thought the Dream Team was a team from Mauritania. The PSL select had all the support and we were treated like an away team.”
He says the match started at a fast pace with the noise in the stadium unbearable as the majority were in solidarity with Chunga.
“Following instructions to the hilt, Gumbo stuck to Chunga like a leech. Bambo hardly played. On realising that Rush was following him everywhere, Chunga decided to play to the gallery to embarrass Rahman. He went to the Vietnam side touchline, and right by the centre flag, he just stood there and never moved while the game was on. Rahman Gumbo did as per instruction and went there to stand with him. The Vietnam fans were incensed and went crazy.”
“They made so much noise and started pelting Rahman with missiles (maize cobs, oranges, stones, zvigubhu etc). The match had to be stopped briefly for order to be restored. The half-time score was 0-0. The second half started with Rahman doing the same job. The temperatures were hotting up. I think the PSL select coaches realised that the tempers were flaring and eventually took off Chunga,” Bunjira writes.
The match finished 1-0 in favour of the Dream Team with Bunjira scoring the only goal, but after the match, says Bunjira, some fans were baying for Fabisch and Gumbo’s blood.
“We even had our bus pelted with missiles. Some of the fans even forgot that we were the Zimbabwe National team. After that match, calls for Chunga to be drafted into the team died a natural death. To this day, I don’t know how Fabisch and Chunga saw each other. It was one of those things in football,” he say.
Bunjira yesterday said he expects his book to be released sometime this year.