AT 17 years of age, Chemhanza High School’s towering goalkeeper Tatenda “Diara” Munditi has already written his own piece of history in an intriguing tale of hero to zero and back to hero, grabbing a lifetime opportunity by the throat in the process.
By Brian Nkiwane
Diara,who clinched a professional football contract with Mutare-based Division One side Mutare City, and his schoolmate, Tatenda Elvis Tumba, will be going to Brazil for a week-long Coca Cola training camp.
The episode of his story started when he played for his school in the Copa Coca Cola Under-16 football tournament in Mutare last year.
The gangling goalkeeper had done everything right, keeping a clean sheet in all the group stage matches that Chemhanza had played — only to concede a “silly” goal in a grudge match against Churchill Boys High in movie style.
After a spectacular showing throughout the entire match against Churchill, the goalie got hold of the ball under pressure from a Churchill Boys High School player, but moved one step back into his goal areas, subsiquently over his goal line, for which the far side assistant referee judged that the ball had crossed the line.
This was an easy equaliser for Churchill Boys who were trailing by a goal.
What followed were spectacular saves from the tall goal minder, denying Churchill three penalties in a row, leading to Chemhanza High School winning 5-3 on penalties to proceed to the finals.
Apart from that “silly” goal, Munditi conceded just one goal in the finals when they beat Howard Mission 3-1 to lift the 25th edition of the tournament.
This performance saw him winning the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award with Tumba being voted Player of the Tournament despite scoring only one goal during the entire tournament.
The two became part of the national select team that went to South Africa where Munditi kept a clean sheet in all the matches that he played while Tumba ran riot, scoring six goals.
The two were then selected to be part of a Coca Cola training camp that will be held in Sao Paolo, Brazil and taking place during the World Cup. The training camp will run from June 10 to 15.
The two will join 160 other Copa Coca Cola players from 60 countries during the training camp.
Speaking to Standardsport on the sidelines of the launch of the 26th edition of the Copa Coca Cola tournament, the two boys could not hide their joy, saying they could not wait to mix and mingle with other top junior footballers from other countries.
“This came as a surprise and I will use the opportunity to learn more things in goalkeeping. I know we are going to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. What we need to do is learn more and try to bring the experiences back home for the development of football,” Munditi said.
Munditi and Tumba are rewriting the history set by current Dynamos second choice goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi and CAPS United talisman Leonard Fiyado who after being voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament and Player of the Tournament respectively in 2008, were also presented the lifetime opportunity to be in Brazil for the training camp.
During the sendoff ceremony held during the launch of this year’s edition of the Copa Coca Cola football tournament, the two players received words of wisdom from three football stars that graced the event, Mukandi, Fiyado and Chiredzi FC skipper Norman Maroto, who is also a product of the tournament.
Meanwhile, this year’s draw for both boys and girls was conducted with heavyweights avoiding each other in the preliminary stages. The defending champions in both categories and the hosting schools were seeded with other provinces being drawn from the pot.
Chemhanza, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo
Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands
Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North, Manicaland
Churchill, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South
Roosevelt High, Matabeleland South, Mashonaland West
Masvingo, Bulawayo Mashonaland East
Midlands, Matabeleland North, Chidyamakono
Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland West