BY MICHAEL KARIATI
IN 1996 a classy CAPS United side under the coaching guidance of Steven Kwashi arrived on the scene and swept all that stood before them including the BAT Premier Soccer League title and the BP League Cup— then the biggest knockout tournament in the land.
To add more gloss to the season, the Cup Kings went on to add the Charity Shield and the Independence Trophy to their silverware haul for the season.
That trailblazing Green Machine side was flooded with exceptional talent in the form of Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Farai Mbidzo, Morgan Nkatazo, Edelbert Dinha, Silver Chigwenje and Lloyd Chitembwe, among others.
But it was the midfielder from the high-density suburb of Mabvuku called Joe Mugabe, who was the major driving force behind CAPS United’s dominant run.
Kode — as he was also affectionately known— was the heart and soul of the Green Machine and a joy to watch as he waved off opponents’ attacks, and launched CAPS United’s own forays from the midfield with that exciting
Mugabe went on to take over the CAPS United captaincy from Chigwenje and for years, became the rock upon, which the Green Machine was built.
“I have achieved everything I dreamt of in football. I played for a very big club in the country and won every trophy there was. I also played for the national team, not once or twice, but on many occasions,” reflects Mugabe.
Mugabe has now relocated to the United Kingdom, but the former Zimbabwe international has a burning desire to one day come back home and help steer Zimbabwe to international football glory.
Whether it would be as coach of the Warriors or a member of the Zimbabwe Football Association, one thing he knows, is that he has a role to play in ensuring a good future for the Zimbabwean game.
Mugabe says right now his focus is on building his life in the UK and then afterwards, he will return home and use the experience garnered at home and abroad to help Zimbabwean football reach greater heights on the international scene.
“I owe Zimbabwean football and I need to pay that debt. I know, for sure, that one day, I will do something for our football. I will come back whether as a coach or in another capacity. It’s just a matter of time before that happens,” said Mugabe.
Mugabe is laying down the foundation for that future in football and this time not as a player. In the UK, he is chairman of the CAPS United Legends, a number of whom have also relocated to that country.
“I am the chairman of the CAPS United Legends. We hold fund-raising activities to acquire football equipment for academies and rural schools back home. We have been doing this for over five years now,” said Mugabe.
Mugabe loves the Warriors and he follows them closely. He warns the Zimbabwean team not to look down upon any team in the Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
“There are no small teams anymore in world football. If we are to qualify for the Nations Cup or the World Cup, then we need to treat every team the same, be it Algeria, Botswana or Ethiopia,” said Mugabe.
The former Sporting Lions coach said if the Warriors were to make the trip to Cameroon and Qatar, then there was need for thorough preparations in the build-up to the qualifiers.
He added that the players should also be willing to sacrifice and represent their country even if they are not happy with the financial rewards on offer.
However, he believes that Zimbabwe is not picking its best players for national team engagements, contending that coaches were recycling the same old players.
The former CAPS United skipper reckons Zimbabwe has vast football talent in all the four corners of the globe which the country has failed to make use of.
Mugabe, who is a son of former Mabvuku constituency Member of Parliament Irene Mugabe, is married to Jennifer and the couple has three children, Irene, Ashley and Alvin.