The Sunday Mail
HIS remains now lie quietly in a cemetery on the outskirts of Harare, but there was a time when this gift kept on dishing out quality football on the field of play.
While very quiet off the field, Gift “Guava” Kamuriwo, who was buried at Glen Forest Memorial Park on Friday afternoon, did most of his talking on the pitch, especially during one fine season when he almost won the Soccer Star of the Year award.
Kamuriwo was pipped to the 2002 gong by former Highlanders centre-back Dazzy Kapenya, who revealed yesterday that back then, he felt “Guava” equally deserved the top accolade.
“Gift was a very creative player and I vividly recall the 2002 season, my brother, the guy was on top of his game.
“I think he played his best football that season and I feel he also deserved to be the Soccer Star of the Year,” Kapenya told The Sunday Mail Sport.
Kamuriwo came second, while Kapenya’s Bosso teammate, Johannes Ngodzo, was named the second runner-up.
“It’s unfortunate there had to be one winner. I got the award, but I was convinced Kamuriwo had done enough to win the top gong. In fact, it was a tight contest for the top award that season. Ngodzo (Johannes) was also hot.
“It’s sad we have lost Kamuriwo. May His Dear Soul rest in peace,” said Kapenya. Kamuriwo died at the age of 46, 18 years after rocking the local Premiership with his creativity and out-of-the-blue goals. Black Rhinos finished second on the log, 20 points behind Highlanders and that Class of 2002 has remained the second-best ever Rhinos team, behind the Class of 1984, which won the league title in their debut top-flight season.
Kamuriwo, who joined Black Rhinos from Air Zimbabwe Jets at the turn of the millennium, was the main actor in an era when Chauya Chipembere, then under the guidance of Droment Chirova, smashed a number of records.
He was part of the Black Rhinos team that beat Dynamos for the first time in 14 years in a league match at Rufaro on August 18, 2001.
Sifiso Mguni’s long-range strike helped Rhinos to a historical 1-0 victory over DeMbare.
“Gift (Kamuriwo) was influential in that game, although he didn’t score,” recalled Chirova. “Right from the start, Kamuriwo was a humble guy. He was a very quiet guy off the field, but he would do most of the talking on the field.
“I appointed him captain and he was part of a group of players I called the Big Five. Brighton Chandisaita, Lazarus Muhoni, Robson Chisango, and Geoffrey Ndlovu completed this Big Five. I would sit down with them before every match to hear their views and they would also act like commanders of their departments during the match.
“But Gift had the most influence. He would save us in many situations,” Chirova said. When Kamuriwo retired from the game, he took up coaching with Seven Flames, a Division Two side, before he was appointed assistant coach at Cranborne Bullets.
Kamuriwo returned to Black Rhinos, as team manager, until he was sacked in 2019, after being fingered in a match-fixing scam. He was serving a three-year ban from football at the time of his death.
“It’s sad to lose Kamuriwo, the Black Rhinos family is mourning and we are deeply hurt. Guava was a quiet guy, but very effective on the pitch,” said Chandisaita.
“He was also a unifier, especially whenever there were scuffles in the dressing room. He was captain of that 2002 team which finished second on the log and we always talked about that achievement.
“Hard work has always been the hallmark of Black Rhinos. We trained hard and we were a united team,” said Chandisaita, who is the current fitness trainer at Chauya Chipembere. Former Black Rhinos and Warriors keeper, Ephraim Mazarura, recalled how influential Kamuriwo was in moulding his career.
“To me, he was more than a brother because we came to Rhinos in the same year — 2000. I was very young then and Guava would always talk to me and this gave me confidence,” said Mazarura, who battled for the Black Rhinos number one jersey with Simba Manzungu. Lloyd Dematsika, Eddie Dube, Eddie Nyika, Nicholas Gora, Melody Wafawanaka, Menard Mupera, and Rowen Nenzou were also part of that star-studded Rhinos squad of the early 2000s.
Led by Kamuriwo, Black Rhinos reached the quarter-finals of the 2003 CAF Confederation Cup, losing 2-6 to eventual champions Raja Casablanca of Morocco.
“He (Kamuriwo) was a very inspirational captain who delivered even when the chips were down,” said Mazarura.
“Even when off form he would just score from nowhere. He always played his heart out and he didn’t want to lose.”
Black Rhinos secretary Edward Mutukwa also paid tribute to Kamuriwo.
“The Black Rhinos family cherishes the utmost contribution that Gift “Guava” Kamuriwo gave to the club as a player, captain, manager, and in different capacities. We are poorer without the 2002 Soccer Star of the Year runner-up. He was an inspiration to the young generation of players,” Mutukwa said.