Pass Masters – the best from Zimbabwe.

Kevin De Bruyne pass master!
“Chehuche” in full flow!

There was a pass, it was a beautiful pass. That one pass took half the Leicester team out the game allowing Raheem Sterling to run through and square the ball to Jesus who accepted the birthday present and tucked the ball home. The man who gave that pass, Kevin De Bruyne had commentators running out of superlatives to describe his abilities.

Jamie Redknapp, the Sky Sports Pundit said, ” He is the best passer of the ball i have seen in the EPL!” he gushed. His fellow pundit, Micah Richards , the man with the throaty laugh concurred, ” He has to be the best midfielder playing in Europe at the moment !” Hyperbole ? Maybe, because i think players like David Beckham, Dimtri Berbatov and even Mesut Ozil deserve to be considered when this discussion of great passers is put on the table. Having said that, it is difficult to argue against the qualities of the ginger haired maestro, he is a man on top of his game, the ace in the pack of a well oiled Manchester City Team . And he can give a pass!

It is worth mentioning also the Youri Tielemans pass which nearly broke the back of Brighton and Hove defender Lewis Dunk in a match against Leicester. That was as sublime a pass as one would see in a very long time and it allowed Nigerian international, Kelechi Iheanacho to score a great goal. The young man is a player on the rise, one who plays with a maturity beyond his years. I just hope he does not overplay which can lead to a burn out. He has played so many games for Leicester and Belgium. For Brendon Rodgers, he is usually the first name on the team sheet.

But let me say, i am the lizard of the homestead and if the lizard of the homestead stops doing the things that it is known for, it will be mistaken for the lizard of the fields. So let me do what i do best, turn to the history of Zimbabwe football and look for the pass masters who have graced our football arenas.

Way back in 1981 when i started watching football , i became familiar with one term among others, ” defence splitting pass!” among others. Many legends’ passing abilities were associated with this term and let me talk about a few.

  • Achford ” Chehuche ” Chimutanda – His passing abilities are well documented. Archie was capable of moments of genius which set him apart from his peers. It was universally accepted that Chimutanda was the pass master of the 80’s era. The man himself did not shy away from lauding his own abilities. According to one legend Stix Mtizwa, Archie would say ” Vana Kembo, garai makagadzirira, hamuzivi kuti tichakupai ne papi. loosely translated to , Kembo { former Dynamos striker }. be ready a good pass is on the way.. !” Indeed, Archie walked the talk, his passes were sublime. He played for Black Aces, Dynamos and Arcadia United in between short stints with other clubs. He was a rolling stone.
  • Stanford “Stix” Mtizwa – Often described as ” evergreen ” because he rarely lost form, the midfield maestro had a pass in his right foot. During his heydays at Caps United, he formed a deadly midfield partnership with Joel “Jubileee” Shambo. Together they created many scoring chances for goal machine Shacky “Mr. Goals” Tauro. Mtizwa’s passes were a joy to watch and “defence splitting” seemed to be a term tailor made for his passing abilities. Mtizwa also played for Black Rhinos.
  • Joel “Jubilee /Mwalimu” Shambo – The Caps United long serving captain, fans also called him the “The Headmaster” and on his day, he bossed the midfield department and reduced fellow midfielders to mere students. In one match against fierce rivals Dynamos, he created five goals in a seven nil demolition of the old enemy. Some of the passes he gave to the goal hungry Shacky Tauro were the stuff of dreams. What a midfielder and what a great passer of the ball he was!
  • Mike “Dread” Madzivanyika – An introvert who let his feet do the talking, Madzivanyika who played for Black Aces and Arcadia was a passer par excellence. What i liked about the legend he is that he was capable of a variety of passes, he would mix both short and long passes. Legend Francis Nechironga who played with ” Mikey Dread ” as the legend is known in football circles said, ” He was a dream midfielder for any striker, if you made a run behind the defence, a pass would come and a clean one too !” He could not have said it any better, Madzivanyika passed the ball early and passed well.
  • Lloyd ” Samaita ” Mutasa – The Dynamos legend, was well known for his exquisite ball control and the dummy but it is important to remember that the maestro was also a master passer of note. Mutasa was so confident of his abilities he would actually point where he intended to place the pass. He always gave directions when playing, a sign of his confidence.
  • Isaac Riyano – Clever passes were his remit but unfortunately he played for a small club, Shu Shine. Only keen followers of Zimbabwe football might know him as one of the best passers of the ball.
  • Moses ” Razorman ” Chunga – When he retreated into midfield and became a number 10 so to speak, Chunga became a master passer of note. He was capable of the long range diagonal pass which took defenders unaware allowing free passage for the striker to score. Chunga is a respected Dynamos legend who also spend five fruitful years in Belgium.
  • Ronald ” Gidiza ” Sibanda – His lack of mobility in midfield was often cited as a weakness but he more than compensated for that with sublime accurate passes. Ronald is another of those midfielders who preferred the long diagonal passes. He definitely deserves to sit on the high table of master passers of the Zimbabwe football story. A product of the prolific Zimbabwe Saints junior production line, Gidiza also played for Amazulu and Dynamos.
  • Hamid “Muzukuru” Dhana – A master of the 360 degrees turn, Dhana relied on the pace of Maronga Nyangela and Jerry Chidawa at Black Rhinos to release those through balls. Such passes often left defenders trailing and strikers clean on goal.
  • Farai “Mr. Perfect” Mbidzo – Fans called him ” Mr. Perfect ” and that was for his perfect passing range. His pinpoint passes often allowed pacey forwards like Alois Bunjira and Stewart Murisa in that all conquering 1996 Caps United to break free and score many goals.

This is just a brief summary and many more legends can be added to this list. Legends such as Cephas Chimedza, Mtshumayeli Moyo, Siza Khosa, Nkulumo Donga, Misheck Mapika, Edwin Farai before injury derailed his career, Clayton Munemo and Tutani ” Toots “Moyo before tragedy struck. Many indeed made football such a joy to watch with their passing abilities.

I have not watched a lot of local football recently so you will forgive me for not mentioning anyone post 2010 era, is not out of disrespect.

I salute the Kevin De Bruyne pass, it was sublime but back in the days when I started watching football, these kind of passes were food and drink for many of our legends. Anyone who watched Archford Chimutanda will attest. That is why they called him ” Chehuche “, the one as sweet as honey!

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