The Sunday Mail
FORMER national team goalkeeper Peter “Chops” Fanwell has sensationally claimed that a senior Government official forced Armando Ferreira into starting John Sibanda in goal for a swim or sink Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in 1991.
Fanwell’s bombshell may go some way in explaining how the national team blew a chance to book a ticket to the 1992 Afcon finals.
Needing a win to secure a maiden dance at the biennial showcase, Zimbabwe led twice but ended up drawing 2-all with Congo on a day Sibanda produced an error prone show.
The late goalie had to be escorted out of the National Sports Stadium by police officers as angry fans called for his head.
Over the past 28 years, questions have been asked as to why Ferreira relegated Fanwell, who was the regular first choice goalie to the bench and opted for Sibanda.
So many theories have been proffered but it is Fanwell’s interjection that provides a more riveting twist to the narrative.
“The 1992 Afcon qualifier against Congo is now a faded memory,” said the former Warriors and Dynamos goalie in an interview last week.
“But going back to that day I remember being surprised that I was not in the starting lineup. But I felt it was not the coaches’ decision…there was some outside influence.”
Outside influence from where? Zifa?
“The influence came not from Zifa but some individual who at that time was linked to the national team. I can’t give a name but it was someone high in Government.”
Fanwell’s revelations further confirm claims that Ferreira was not sure about which goalkeeper to give the nod to on the morning of the match.
In our last edition, the man who captained the team on that fateful day, Moses “Bambo” Chunga, revealed that Ferreira had sought his advice about a possible change in goalkeepers.
“Back in 1991 Peter Fanwell was the first choice and I remember very well discussing the line up with then coach Armando Ferreira when he accompanied me to put flowers on my mother’s grave at a Harare cemetery in the morning of the match.
“Ferreira wanted to hear my thoughts as the captain and I was of the opinion that as usual “Chops” (Fanwell) should start but it turned out to be Sibanda,” revealed Chunga.
The late Willard Khumalo once famously said he “saw fear” in Sibanda’s eyes when the former Zimbabwe Saints goalkeeper was told that he would start the crunch qualifier.
Fanwell concurs that mentally Sibanda was not ready for the game.
“John Sibanda himself was surprised that he was in goal.
Although physically he was prepared for the match he was not mentally prepared which showed in the match.
“After the match his face told it all. I just consoled him and told him not to worry as it was part of the game.”
Meanwhile, just like all the other members of the Class of 91,Fanwell is backing the Warriors do to the business when Congo visits for another Afcon qualifier on March 24.
“In Sunday (Chidzambwa), the current generation have one of the best coaches I have ever worked with.
“I worked with Sunday for a number of years and I can only speak highly of him. He is dedicated to his football and doesn’t like losing.
“The boys just need to follow his instructions and the team will be off to Afcon again.
“The memories of 1991 should not weigh the team down, instead they should be spurred on by the need to do it for themselves, us who failed in 1991 and the nation at large,” said Fanwell.