The first-ever Zimbabwe soccer legends team to be assembled is ready to roll back the years as they take on their famed tiki-taka counterparts, Barcelona legends, in a historic exhibition match set for the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
A cloud of uncertainty had been cast over the Zimbabwe legends’ turn-out to participate in this friendly encounter after former Warriors defender Ephraim Chawanda snubbed the invitation.
Reports had also suggested that one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated footballers and captain of the team, Peter Ndlovu, would be absent, but the Flying Elephant has since linked up with his peers.
Zimbabwe’s most successful coach, Sunday Chidzambwa — who has been tasked with guiding the country’s icons — described the union of former Warriors as extremely emotional.
“This is a very exciting and emotional experience for all the players who are present. It has made us reminisce on the good old days and everyone is geared up to roll back the years for the Zimbabwe football fans today,” Chidzambwa told Standardsport.
“I think Zifa and the Ministry of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture have done a good thing and for once, we feel honoured as football legends in this country. Training has been so much fun and you realise that some of the players have not lost the touch after so long.”
Chidzambwa admitted to having been charmed by players such as Johannes Ngodzo, Ndlovu, Ronald “Gidiza” Sibanda and Benjani Mwaruwari, among others.
“You look at a player like Ngodzo; he has put on a lot of weight but still does most of the tricks he used to do when he was young. Gidiza still passes the ball the same way he did 15 years ago, while Peter and Benjani look sharp in front of goal,” Chidzambwa said.
“Basically, we have 28 players that make up at least two teams. So, we are going to start with a team of players who are much older and replace them with the younger ones as the match progresses. We are looking forward to a very entertaining afternoon for the players as well as fans. And obviously, the Barcelona legends would bring their tiki-taka football, but I think we are ready for it.”
A surprise omission on the Zimbabwe legends line-up is former defensive stalwart John Phiri, one of the most capped players.
The Barcelona legends were expected to arrive in the country last night from Mozambique, where they played another exhibition match against the Mambas yesterday.
The visitors were expected to bring a delegation of 30 members that included 20 players and 10 officials. The cheapest ticket for the game is pegged at $2.
The match will be broadcast live on Kwesé Free Sports Africa and ZBC.