By Simbarashe Musaki
Memory Mucherahowa hung his football boots in 2001, after the realization that his legs could no longer sustain his explosive acceleration, which made him the daring and dashing tormentor of opponents in more than a decade of a stellar football career which saw Zimbabwe legendary gaffer Sunday Chidzambwa handing him the Dynamos captain’s armband for a good eight years, as Dembare conquered African football.
The former Warriors and Dynamos FC midfield maestro’s rich, epic and spanning history cannot be simply erased from our football vault.
Having in mind the responsibility to ensure the history of the country’s genuine football stars is not distorted, this publication traced Mucherahowa to his United Kingdom base to exhume a great deal of information on how the former ‘Dembare’ skipper rose to become a household name, not only in Zimbabwe but the African continent, at large, as he led his charges to unimaginable heights by reaching the 1998 Africa Champions League finals – a feat no local club has achieved to this day.
Mucherahowa, who was affectionately known by his totem Mwendamberi or Gwenzi was born on June 19, 1968.
He attributed his success to his late mother who wanted him to follow his uncles’ footsteps, who were famous footballers in Mhondoro, his rural home, including then division one outfit Sunlight FC former player Charles Jonga, who played alongside Henry ‘Beefy’ Chari in that lower league club.
Mucherahowa, like everyone else started by playing plastic balls known in vernacular language as ‘chikweshe’ when he was a young boy.
1n 1979, while in grade five (5) at Gwinyiro Primary School, he played for the Under 11 team, elevated to second team the following year and played for first team while in grade seven (7) in 1981.
“I was born on 19 June 1968 and started playing plastic balls as a young boy. At primary school while in grade 5, I started playing for under 11s team and promoted to second and first team while in grade 6 and 7 respectively. My late mother was my source of inspiration and wanted me to play football just like my uncles, although they failed to make it into limelight except for Charles Jonga who once turned for Sunlight FC then in Division 1,” said Mucherahowa.
Surprisingly, Mucherahowa did not play football at secondary school, which he attended (Mufakose 1 High), due to pride and alleged favouritism given to aged boys, therefore, opted to join Dynamos FC juniors.
Due to his eye-catching performance, he made it into the Glamour Boys’ juniors team then coached by Daniel Ncube and Kuda Muchemeyi in 1983, playing alongside Lloyd ‘Samaita’ Mutasa, the late Walter Kaseke, Simon Chuma ‘The Hot Property’ and the late Tonderai ‘Nyaro’ Mangwiro.
The phenomenal Mucherahowa turned professional in 1985 while in form 4 when he was elevated into Dynamos FC senior team, playing occasionally as a substitute.
Chidzambwa, who felt Mucherahowa was immature for premiership play was influenced by Steve Kwashi to uplift him to first-team or risk losing him to other clubs after he featured for a social team called George Shaya 11, mainly composed of yesteryear footballers.
His career continued to flourish in 1987 when he was trusted by former Dynamos coaches Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa and Obadiah ‘Wasu’ Sarupinda at the approval of then captain Moses Chunga to play in the starting line-up ahead of Reuben Musambudzi in a league game against Hwange FC ‘Chipangano’ at Colliery Stadium.
His first league start proved memorable, scoring his first-ever goal in their 5-0 victory, joining Moses ‘Razorman’ Chunga and David ‘Yogi’ Mandigora who had earlier scored.
He said, “I didn’t play football at secondary school because the play was below my standard and there was also favouritism given to old boys who were disturbed their education by the Chimurenga Liberation War. I joined Dynamos FC juniors in 1983 and I was promoted to senior team in 1985 while in form 4 playing here and there as a substitute. My first starting game was against Hwange FC, I scored a header after Moses Chunga and David Mandigora who had earlier scored and we won 5-0. Chunga, who was captain there chose me to be in the first 11 after he was asked by the coaches to choose between me and Reuben Musambudzi. ”
Mucherahowa, who was an influential player on the pitch and also a respected voice in the dressing room was made Dynamos captain in 1994 till his retirement, taking over the armband from Angirai Chapo ‘The Durawall’.
His outstanding performance would not go unnoticed during the 1994 season and was a deserving recipient of the Soccer Star of the Year award – that same season – scoring seven goals for his club.
Despite his successful career and consistent play in the domestic league, clinching six league titles with Dynamos and dozens of medals, he failed to make it to the European clubs.
He went for trials in Belgium and Argentina in 1991 and 1995 respectively but luck was not on his side.
“I became the record breaker by being Dynamos’ longest-serving captain after taking over from Angirai Chapo in 1994 till 2001. In 1994, I was voted soccer star of the year, I wasn’t a good goal scorer but that season I scored seven goals. With Dynamos, I won six league championships and I have over 100 medals, but I failed to make it to foreign clubs despite being called for trials in Belgian and Argentine clubs,” added Mucherahowa.
Blessed with scintillating technical ability, he is considered the best midfielder to ever don the Dynamos jersey and was a national team regular player since 1989; serve for the Reinhard Fabisch’s coached Dream Team era.
Mucherahowa’s national team debut was against Algeria in 1989 under the mentorship of Ben Kofi and his last prior to his retirement in 2001 was against Cameron in 2000 at National Sports Stadium.
Playing for the national team, he went toe to toe with some of the best footballers to grace our domestic league such as Japhet ‘Short Cat’ Mparutsa, the late Mercedes ‘Rambo’ Sibanda, Ephraim ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ Chawanda and the late Joel ‘Jubilee’ Shambo.
He was part of the 1990 Warriors team, which won the SADCC tournament played in Botswana and that game was Peter Ndlovu’s debut.
“Despite that Reinhard Fabisch snubbed me during his mentorship, I played for the national team before and after Fabisch era. My national team debut was in 1989, an away match against Algeria in a team coached by Ben Kofi and my last game was against Cameroon in 2000 at National Sports Stadium. In 1990, we won the SADCC Tournament played in Botswana and that game was Peter Ndlovu’s debut.
Mucherahowa has acquired several coaching certificates both in Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom and is yet to bounce back in the football world as a coach or administrator.
A person who doesn’t have a dream is a dead person; Mucherahowa’s dream is to take a leading role in football development in the country and at his beloved club, Dynamos FC.
By Simbarashe Musaki