SEVENTY-THREE minutes of the Harare Derby had unfolded and the “wow, did he just do that?” moment was yet to arrive.
There were genuine fears that it would never come.
Yes, Dynamos were 1-0 up thanks to Hardlife Zvirekwi’s generous defending, Cleopas Kapupurika’s use of after burners and Christian Epoupa’s conversion, but there was still something missing from this much-hyped game.
Everyone at the National Sports Stadium knew it. Those who followed the tie on television knew it too.
And the magical moment was impossible to miss too when it finally arrived in the 74th minute.
With Caps United throwing everything – including the kitchen sink – at their city rivals in search of an equaliser, DeMbare went a gear up and substitute Tawanda Macheke got possession in the centre circle.
The pair of Epoupa and Ocean Mushure gave Macheke options but with Makepekepe central defenders Steven Makatuka and Carlton Munzambwa having their lines all mixed up, it was the Cameroonian who had the freedom of Harare.
However, with Macheke right-footed and facing the left, finding Epoupa was always going to be a difficult task. The angles were just not on.
Unless he were to pull of something exquisite. Which he did.
Macheke illuminated the Harare Derby with a rabona, swiftly wrapping his right leg around the left and releasing Epoupa whose shot was parried back into play by Edmore Sibanda.
Finally. The moment had arrived. The applause was deafening, cutting across the green and blue divide.
Lloyd Chitembwe was the master of the rabona during his playing days and although he did not applaud, the Caps United coach must have been impressed with the execution of a skill reportedly first unleashed by Argentine Ricardo Infante during a clash between Estudiantes de la Plata and Rosario Central in 1948.
Modern players who have the rabona as part of their artillery include Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria, Paul Pogba and Neymar.
Now we can add Macheke to that list.
“It was actually my first time to do that in a game,” revealed the 21-year-old Midlands State University Development Studies student.
“When the ball came to me I realised that both the Caps United defenders were paying attention to Ocean who had drifted leftwards while Christian was free, hence I decided to try what I always do at training.”
Macheke’s audacity to pull a rabona in such a high stakes game speaks volumes of Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa’s management style and the confidence he has instilled in his players.
DeMbare have often been accused of being heavy on the eye, going about business like artisans rather than artistes.
And it hurts the fans more because they know Mutasa is a football romantic, the type of coach who believes in dressing a win.
“The coach always tells us to come out of our shells and show what we are made of. He tells us that stars are born in big games and urges us not to be afraid of making mistakes. He wants us to express our skills freely and that is exactly what I did against Caps United.
“We were leading 1-0, the game was winding down and I said to myself ‘why not. The Okochas, Ronaldos do it so I can do it too’,” said Macheke.
Dynamos face a Highlanders outfit seeking their seventh consecutive Castle Lager Premier Soccer League win and a double over their eternal rivals at Rufaro today, and Mutasa wants his youngsters to enjoy this moment too.
“This Class of 2017 is made up of youngsters and the trick when dealing with the youngsters is to give them room to flourish, give them room to express themselves.
“The ultimate goal is always to win but there is no harm in winning in style as well,” said the DeMbare gaffer.
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