HARARE – Seventeen years after losing the African Champions League final to ASEC Mimosas, former Dynamos captain Memory Mucherahowa is still disappointed by the bias displayed by Caf president Issa Hayatou. By Nigel Matongorere
After the first leg had ended goalless at the National Sports Stadium on November 28, DeMbare travelled to Ivory Coast for the second leg exactly 17 years ago today. The Glamour Boys lost the second leg 4-2 at the Stade Félix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan in a match which will always be remembered for the brawl before kick-off which left Mucherahowa unconscious after he was head-butted by one of the ASEC players. The midfield enforcer, who was the heartbeat and soul of the Glamour Boys, was rushed to hospital and missed the game which up until today still remains the most important match in Dynamos’ history since their formation in 1963.
Without their leader and inspirational captain, a rudderless Dynamos side conceded three first half goals in the 30th, 38th and 43rd minutes as a silky passing ASEC side led by the Ivorian midfield genius Tchiressoua Guel took full advantage.
Seven minutes after the restart, ASEC extended their lead to put the game beyond DeMbare’s reach.
Despite two goals from Makwinji Soma Phiri (60) and George Owusu (81), there was no Glamour Boys’ late comeback.
In reality, Dynamos were already beaten even before a ball was kicked after the players witnessed the attack on their captain which left him needing urgent medical attention and unable to play.
Mucherahowa’s umbrage with Hayatou arises from the fact that he was head-butted by the ASEC player right in front of the Caf supremo, who is now the acting Fifa president.
Even with their captain lying unconscious, the Glamour Boys were forced to play the match and there were no sanctions handed down to ASEC even though the brawl occurred right in front of Hayatou.
“I was head-butted on the pitch when we were warming up and in front of Hayatou who had just called me to tell my players to warm up using just the one half of the pitch,” Mucherahowa told the Daily News from his base in Reading, England this week.
“I have nothing against the referee (Lim Kee Chong of Mauritius) because he was not there but against Hayatou, of course. “He pretended as if he didn’t see me get head-butted yet he was standing on the touchline watching me going to tell the ASEC player to warm up in their own half.
“That shows a lot of bias and double standards according to me and I wasn’t surprised when I heard he is under investigation because a lot has been happening for a long time.”
Mucherahowa says his teammates were disoriented after the brawl and it affected their performance greatly.
“The thing is, I don’t know whether I was going to change the result but what I can say is after I was head-butted you could see that the team’s morale went down,” he says.
“Some of the players became unsettled; just imagine a ship without a captain when there are a lot of waves in the sea, honestly some of them panicked.”
That year, Dynamos had a strong and talented squad which featured some of the best players to grace the domestic league.
In goals, DeMbare coach back then, Sunday Chidzambwa had the choice of picking either Ernest Chirambadare or Gift Muzadzi; arguably the best glove-men of their generation.
Some of the defenders who marshalled the Glamour Boys’ backline included Vint Fulawo, Chamu Musanhu, Harlington Shereni, Ernest Masango and Masimba Dinyero.
In midfield, Dynamos had an abundance of talent in the form of Mucherahowa, Calisto Pasuwa, Lovemore “Magents” Ncube, Lloyd Mutasa and Desmond Maringwa.
Upfront, Chidzambwa could choose from Owusu, Soma Phiri, Tonderai Mutambikwa and a young Murape Murape.
Mucherahowa believes with such a good mix of youth and experience, Chidzambwa had the perfect ingredients to assemble a team which was only 90 minutes away from being crowned African champions.
“The main reason why we went all the way to the final was because we were playing for each other.
“We didn’t have any stars in that team but we played as a team from day one,” he says.
“The other reason was that we had the best and an experienced coach in (Sunday) Chidzambwa.
“We didn’t have key players as I said before but we played as a team and for each other although we had some experienced players who had been there for a long time.
“Players like myself, Chirambadare, Makwinji even the likes of Pasuwa and Musanhu as well.
“The other factor why we did well was that the club bosses had promised us a complete change of life but it didn’t happen.”
Since 1998, Dynamos have struggled to make an impact on the continental stage where they have found the going tough on many occasions. Under David Mandigora, the Glamour boys reached the semi-finals of the competition in 2008 but lost 5-1 on aggregate to Coton Sport Garoua of Cameroon.
Mucherahowa believes his former club still has the clout to reposition themselves as one of African club football giants but they need to get their house in order first.
The outspoken Dynamos legend took a swipe at the club’s president Kenny Mubaiwa’s management style.
“Dynamos is a big brand and yes, they can produce a talented and better team than us. They can reach or even win the Champions League that is if people who are running the club right now change their way of administration,” he says.
“Now we hear the team belongs to an individual who is benefitting from all the income from gate takings.
“Just imagine the players are being offered cars as signing-on fees; do the players’ families survive on cars?
“These players are breadwinners for their families. Give them money if they want cars they will buy for themselves.
“Who is benefitting from these cars? The so-called president?
“How he came into that position of president nobody knows. We had some better people there before who did a lot of good things better than him and were never called presidents.”
Mucherahowa also slammed the executive’s decision of refusing to renew Pasuwa’s contract at the end of the 2014 season after he had led the Glamour Boys to four straight league titles.
“Look at the way they chose a coach; they went for someone whom they knew would not challenge them because he did not play much for Dynamos,” he said.
“Why did they fire Pasuwa who was producing good results? They thought he was going to be powerful and challenge them so they thought the best way is to dismiss him and get somebody who has not won anything with Dynamos so they can control him.”