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Date: 24 September 2017

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Warriors v Bafana in Harare-down memory lane

[Posted 15 Nov 2011]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Warriors v Bafana in Harare-down memory lane

Two matches stand out when one tries to remember the epic battles between Southern African soccer giants Zimbabwe and South Africa. One is ofcourse what every Zimbabwean fan would love to remember, the 4-1 victory for the home team in 1992. The second is what every South Africa fan would want to remember, the 2-0 victory at home, but a victory marred by death of 12 fans.

When South Africa made a much awaited return to international football, they were very unfortunate to meet a Zimbabwe squad that was going through a season in which their squad was dubbed the Dream Team.

That Dream Team was coached by a charismatic German national, Reinhardt Fabisch, and powered on by the refreshing talents of Peter Ndlovu, Moses Chunga, Henry McKop, Ephraim Chawanda, the late Mercedes "Rambo" Sibanda, the late Benjamin "Makanaky" Nkhonjera, John Phiri, Max "Scara" Makanza, Rahman Gumbo, Agent "Ajira" Sawu, Adam "Adamski" Ndlovu, Madinda Ndlovu, among other stars.

On 16 June 1992, at the National Sports Stadium, Bafana Bafana, who were famed for their shoe-shine-piano, what others liked to colloquially call "sexy" or "don't touch me" kind of football, were taught a footbaling lesson by their northern neighbours.

While the visitors started off with some neat passing football, they soon fell prey to the Warrior spirit of the home team, and by the end of the match, a 17-year old Peter Ndlovu had scored twice to inspire his side to a famous 4-1 drubbing of Bafana.

If the Zimbabweans thought that a trend of dominating the South Africans had started, they were given a good warning shot in the reverse fixture in Johannesburg at the FNB Stadium in the same year. A Warriors side that was inspired by substitute Madinda Ndlovu had to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw.

From then on, Bafana Bafana enjoyed some important victories against the Warriors and currently lead with six wins out of the eleven matches between the two sides to date, while Zimbabwe have won only four, and one match was drawn.

Both teams have enjoyed at least a win away from home. The Zimbabweans travelled to Johannesburg at the inauguration of Thabo Mbeki as South Africa's second democratically elected President, and beat Bafana with a well-taken strike by left-back Harlington Shereni on 16 June 1999, eventually triumphing 1-0.

Slightly more than a year later, Bafana Bafana turned the tables against the Warriors, and beat them in Harare in a World Cup qualifier on 9 July 2000, a defeat that carried not only the pain of loss of points, but the tragic loss of precious lives.

On that day, 12 fans died after Warriors supporters rioted at the National Sports Stadium following a 2-0 lead taken by Bafana Bafana through Delron Buckley in a World Cup qualifier which Zimbabwe badly needed to win inorder to qualify for the 2002 Fifa World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.


After Buckley's second goal, and with the fans sensing a defeat at home, something akin to traason in Zimbabwean football especially against rivals Bafana Bafana, started throwing bottles onto the pitch in reaction to their team's poor show on the day.

Police completely failed to deal with the situation, and reracted by firing numerous canisters of tergas into the near capacity 60 000 crowd at the giant stadium.

Through the stampede that ensued as fans ran for the nearest exits, 12 fans including minor children were killed in one of the worst stadium disasters to be ever experienced in Southern Africa.

Norman Mapeza, the current Warriors coach was captain of the Warriors team on the day.

It is hoped that none of those memories will haunt the Zimbabwean players when they face the same opponents in a friendly match tonight. The venue is not the giant National Sports Stadium tonight, but Rufaro Stadium where it is very difficult for any visiting team to win.

Yet, the Warriors should never underestimate a team of rookies with great potential who are dying to impress the coach. Playing away from home can only be good news for youngsters as it takes away the pressure of the home crowd.

George Lebese of Kaizer Chiefs is one youngster who is such a joy to watch when the ball is glued to his left leg. There is also Orlando Pirates Oupa Manyisa, a midfield magician who deserves to be playing in a good European league.

On paper, the Warriors, who boast youngsters of their own who have gained the much needed experience in the past AFCON campaign, are favourites to achieve a good result.

German-based Knowledge Musona, France-based Ovidy Karuru, then Khama Billiat and Nyasha Mushekwi who are both among leading goal scorers in the ABSA premiership in South Africa will surely give Bafana a torrid time.

 

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