I had a discussion with legend Memory Mucherahowa and he said something very insightful. He talked about Ernest Masango , a player who many Dynamos fans derogatively referred to as ” Tsano “. This nickname was a slur and it was suggesting that Masango was in the team because he was related to coach Sunday ” Mhofu ” through marriage. Tsano can loosely be translated to ” in law .” The sarcasm was too obvious to ignore.
Said the former long serving captain, ” I am surprised by the lack of appreciation of Ernest. The fans did not seem to understand his contributions to the team. They thought that he was in the team because coach Sunday had a soft spot for him. Nothing can be further from the truth!”
Describing Ernest as a utility player, the legend gave a lot of credit to Ernest for his full commitment to the Dembare cause. ” Ernest was a utility player, in 1994 when i won the Soccer Star of the year, Ernest together with Hope Chihota helped me a lot in midfield. They were young and they did all the dirty work, they were like young eager terriers and sometimes i had to tell them to take it easy. I remember in one match when Joe Mugabe came to me and complained that the two were being too hard on him. That was how committed the two were. The good thing about Ernest was that he was able to play in a number of roles. He was a utility player.”
With such a ringing endorsement from the captain, why then did the fans seem less appreciative to the extent of giving him that derogatory moniker? The former captain had as simple response to this , ” Fans look at football with different eyes. As players, we have a closer understanding of how a teammate is contributing. That was the case with Ernest, he was an important member of the team ”
I agree with the former captain’s views. Masango played in some really talented Dynamos teams and for him to make it in those teams meant that he was a good player. I have posted a picture of Dynamos in 1994, what a team that was. It had the creme de la creme of Zimbabwe football and Masango fitted in seamlessly in that team. He also played in the Champions League final proving once more that he was good enough.
The case of Ernest is not unique. There are many such players in the our football narrative who can earn the trust of the coach but get only the ire of the fans. Coach Sunday Chidzambwa had another favourite, Lazarus Muhoni nicknamed Mali. The fans did not fancy him and when asked why he picked him, Mhofu said, ” Muhoni is a two in one, he is useful in both boxes. ” He was implying that Muhoni could defend and also chip in with some goals. However , the fans were far from impressed and demanded that he be dropped from the National Team. This clearly shows that the fans and the coaches views on certain players are not always in tandem.
However as coach Sunday ” Mhofu ” Marimo was often fond of saying, ” Team yemasapota haidyiwe because haitambi !”. When it comes to understanding the qualities of a player , it is best to leave it to the coach. The coaches know better. And yes, teammates can also give a more reliable verdict. On the Ernest Masango issue, i will go with the former captain’s verdict.