BY Kevin Mapasure
FORMER Warriors striker and Caps United legend Alois Bunjira has revealed how Moses Chunga’s senior national team career was ended spectacularly by Rahman Gumbo in a book that he is set publish before the end of the year.
Bunjira, who has revealed plans to run for the Zifa presidency, is following in the footsteps of former Dynamos skipper Memory Mucherahowa who authored Seven Million Souls, chronicling his football career.
The 46-year-old, whose 13-year career saw him play professional football for 14 teams in Africa and Europe, is writing a book titled Alois Bunjira, My Football Journey, where he reveals some intriguing dressing room stories during his time at various clubs that included Darryn T, Blackpool and Caps before his move to South Africa where he played for Qwaqwa Stars, Wits, Sundowns, Jomo Cosmos and FC AK.
He also played in Poland and Slovakia.
In the national team, he played for the Under-10, Under-17, Under-23 and the senior side, winning 31 caps for the Warriors.
He broke into the senior national team at the age of 17 and at one time shuttled between the Under-20, Under-23 and the Warriors.
He starred when the Under-23 team clinched silver at the All-Africa Games in 1995 hosted by Zimbabwe after losing to Egypt in the final.
At club level, he won the league title with Caps as well as various cup competitions, including the BP League Cup.
One of the interesting chapters in the book chronicles how former Warriors coach Reinhard Fabisch plotted to shut out legend Chunga from his Dream Team in 1993.
He shared excerpts of the book with NewsDay Sport, saying that he expects the book to be on the market before the end of the year.
The Dream Team remains the most popular Warriors group since independence, but why Chunga, one of the finest footballers to be produced in the country was not part of it, with the late Fabisch resisting pressure, especially from the Dynamos fans, to include the former national captain.
“Fabisch was saying he knew about Chunga’s operation in Germany and the doctors had said Chunga could no longer play at the highest level with great intensity anymore. Chunga insisted he was fit and good enough to play,” Bunjira writes.
“The pressure reached boiling point until the Premier Soccer League (PSL), Zifa and Fabisch came to an agreement that a match between the Dream Team and the PSL select had to be organised, for Chunga to show that he could still play and deserved a place in the national team. The match was duly organised and pencilled for a Wednesday night at Rufaro Stadium. We were in camp with the Dream Team preparing for a match against Zambia in Lusaka,”
Fabisch is said to have named the starting line-up, but he had special instructions for Gumbo.
“After the team was announced, Fabisch then called out Rahman and said to him, ‘Rahman, today your job is to mark Moses. I don’t want him to play. This game was organised for him, but I don’t want him in my team. You will make sure he doesn’t touch the ball. Follow him everywhere. Even if he goes to the toilet, you go with him. He will cause trouble in my camp”.
Bunjira, then 17 years old, recalls that the stadium was packed with supporters rooting for Chunga and his team.
“The stadium was packed to the rafters. For me, that is the only other time I saw Rufaro Stadium so packed, other than during the All-Africa Games in 1995. The noise that greeted the PSL team and cheers for Chunga when he entered the field, one would have thought the Dream Team was a team from Mauritania. The PSL select had all the support and we were treated like an away team.”
When the match finally got off, Gumbo, as per instruction stalked Chunga.
“Following instructions to the hilt, Gumbo stuck to Chunga like a leech. Bambo hardly played. On realising that Rush was following him everywhere, Chunga decided to play to the gallery to embarrass Rahman. He went to the Vietnam side touchline, and right by the centre flag, he just stood there and never moved while the game was on. Gumbo did as per instruction and went there to stand with him. The Vietnam fans were incensed and went crazy.”
Despite being targeted by the Chunga sympathisers, Gumbo stuck to Chunga in the second half and eventually won the battle much to the delight of his German mentor.
“They made so much noise and started pelting Rahman with missiles. The match had to be stopped briefly for order to be restored. The half-time score was 0-0. The second half started with Rahman doing the same job. The temperatures were rising. I think the PSL Select coaches realised that the tempers were flaring and eventually took off Chunga.”
Bunjira scored for the Warriors, who won the match 1-0, but the fans knowing fully well that Chunga had lost the battle to break into the Dream Team had the last say.
“We even had our bus pelted with missiles. Some of the fans even forgot that we were the national team. After that match, calls for Chunga to be drafted into the team died a natural death. To this day, I don’t know how Fabisch and Chunga associated. It was one of those things in football.”
The Warriors under the Fabisch era are still regarded as the best team to have been assembled at national level even though they failed to qualify for any major tournament.
In his book, Bunjira touches on his career at Darryn T where he developed under Polish coach Wieslaw Grabowski after he had been plucked from Black Rhinos.
He reveals how what started off as a rivalry in Chitungwiza later turned out to be a special combination on the pitch and friendship off it with Stewart Murisa especially at Caps and the junior national teams.
The book will clarify how he moved to the US and quickly returned to come and pursue a football career.
“My book should be out before the end of the year. It will touch on my career from pre-primary school days until retirement. It will have so many interesting stories, some of which I have shared before, but a lot that I have not told. But I trust it will be a good, honest read.”