The Sunday Mail
EPHRAIM CHAWANDA almost captained the national team to the 1994 African Cup of Nations but the dream went up in smoke as Reinhard Fabisch’s side fell at the last hurdle.
Chawanda and his Dream Team suffered the ignominy of failing at the last hurdle back on July 25, 1993 when Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya extinguished Zimbabwe’s hopes of qualifying for the 1994 finals with an 80th minute header that cancelled out Henry Mckop’s opener in front of 60 000 people at the National Sports Stadium.
It was double jeopardy for the skipper who also missed that game through injury.
“I was the captain of the Dream Team but missed that Zambia game due to an Achilles rapture. It was painful watching the game from the sidelines.
“We put in a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices and we never lost a match in that group. What pains me most even up to this day is that we were on the doorstep of qualifying,” revealed Chawanda.
Zimbabwe are once again on the verge of qualifying for the Afcon finals and the setting is again the National Sports Stadium.
The Warriors, who have eight points from five Group G matches, host Congo Brazzaville in the final qualifier next Sunday needing just a point to qualify for the 2019 finals.
This crucial game got Chawanda thinking about the “curses” of the last hurdle, although the 1988 Soccer Star of the Year winner, is very optimistic the Warriors have the 2019 ticket firmly in their hands.
“To the current crop I say believe in yourselves, take this game as just another ordinary game and don’t put yourselves under a lot of pressure. Just play to win,” Chawanda said.
The former Zimbabwe Saints star defender was back in the country last week to meet Zifa officials, alongside another former Warriors skipper Moses Chunga, through an initiative by the football mother body to rope in football legends in their operations.
Chawanda and Chunga met Zifa board member marketing Sugar Chagonda in Harare last Tuesday to discuss Zimbabwean football at large and the Warriors in particular.