Zimbabwe: For Years, They Had the Best Keepers

Senior Sports Reporter

IT'S the season Dynamos should have been marking the 40th anniversary of the year a teenage 'keeper came of age, en-route to transforming himself, into a legend.

His name is Japhet M'parutsa.

Along the way, he became the first local 'keeper to be handed the ultimate honour of being voted Soccer Star of the Year.

He blazed a trail for the likes of Energy Murambadoro and Gift Muzadzi to also win the prestigious award.

It was in 1981 when M'parutsa enjoyed his first taste of international football, as an 18-year-old, when he kept goals for Dynamos in a Champions' Cup match against Shooting Stars, of Nigeria.

The following year, at the age of 19, he was crowned Soccer Star of the Year.

Today, M'parutsa, who now lives in England, remains a symbol of the time when the Glamour Boys had stars, in the last line of their defence.

These include Frank M'kanga, Laban Kandi, Matthew Mwale, Lucky Dube, Peter Fanwell, Gift Muzadzi, George Mandizvidza, Ernest Chirambadare, George Chigova and Washington Arubi.

While both Arubi and Chigova remain active, and are doing well, in South Africa, an area where DeMbare used to be well served, has become the club's Achiless Heel.

It's a department which was recently left thin after losing two experienced members -- Simba Chinani and Munyaradzi Diya.

The duo's contracts expired at the end of 2020 and were not renewed.

Chinani is said to be training at CAPS United.

This has left newboy Taimon Mvula, who joined the Glamour Boys during the lockdown period last year, as the only experienced goalkeeper, in the squad.

The Glamour Boys have roped in two unheralded goalkeepers, George Chitsumba and Wellington Mangena, to replace the old hands whose divorce came at a time tensions were rising at the club over a number of issues.

Club spokesperson, Yvonne Mangunda, told The Herald they had now sorted out the goalkeeping issue.

"We already had two goalkeepers in Taimon Mvula and George Chitsumba," she said.

"Mangena is the third.

"Chitsumba was part of our team that played the Independence Cup final recently.

"He has already signed with Dynamos and, as far as we are concerned, we are not looking for another goalkeeper."

Mvula, who turns 28 next month, is tipped to be the first-choice 'keeper this season.

The lanky goalkeeper spent most of his career at Hwange.

But, playing for Dynamos, is a different ball game.

It's a measure of how things have changed that, when national team goalkeepers are considered, no one from the Glamour Boys is ever mentioned.

This is a club which, throughout their history, produced successive goalkeepers who represented this country, with distinction.

DeMbare's latest acquisition, Mangena, is a 23-year old 'keeper who started his professional career as a teenager at ZIFA Central Region Division One side, Ivan Hoe.

That was between 2015 and 2017.

He made 30 appearances for the club and kept 18 clean sheets.

The Kwekwe-born goalkeeper then moved to South Africa, where he played for Lower division side, All Stars FC.

In 2018, he was signed by former South Africa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits' development side.

He clocked 30 games for the side and managed 19 clean sheets.

Mangena returned from South Africa recently.

He briefly trained with Highlanders before moving to join Dynamos.

"This is Dynamos, like I have said, it is the most difficult club to play for as a player and the most difficult to coach," DeMbare coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, noted.

"Just acquiring players is not good enough, you need to prepare them, to get into the right fitness levels and make sure that they are able to handle the pressure which comes with playing for such a big brand."

The Premier Soccer League is expected to get underway this month, with a cluster tournament after a year of inactivity, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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