'Black Aces gave me fame'

HARARE - There was a time when Black Aces was a household name in the Zimbabwe Premiership.

Many teams used to dread travelling to Gwanzura Stadium to take on the Highfield-based side as they would leave the venue empty handed on most occasions.

The now defunct club’s outstanding record at Gwanzura would earn the club the moniker of “Shaisa Mufaro”, which loosely translates to “Party Spoilers”.

Even the traditional giants of local football CAPS United, Highlanders and Dynamos never found it easy playing against Black Aces during those days.

One prominent player, who featured for Black Aces during those golden days was midfielder Boniface Makuruza.

Born 55 years ago, Makuruza began his career with in the Dynamos junior ranks as a teenage boy in the 1970s.

With limited playing opportunities at Glamour Boys, the young Makuruza left the Harare giants before breaking into the first team to join Monomotapa Royals in 1980 where he distinguished himself.

After making an impression at Royals, in 1982 Black Aces came calling and the left-footed Makuruza did not hesitate to make the switch.

Makuruza quickly established himself and became a vital cog in Aces’ midfield together with the likes of David Muchineripi, Archiford Chimutanda, Maronga Nyangela, Edward Katsvere and Sunday Masauso among others.

“It was at Black Aces where I announced my arrival on the big stage,” Makuruza tells the Daily News.

“I had a remarkable season with Aces. There was stiff competition in the team but I was fortunate to make it in the team. I was very creative and I enjoyed my role in the team.

“We tormented the so-called big teams like Dynamos, CAPS United, Highlanders and Black Rhinos every time we met them. We played the game to enjoy as there was not too much money involved like now, yet competition was very high.”

Makuruza’s exploits for Black Aces saw him called to the National Under-20 team where he worked under Ashton “Papa” Nyazika and Peter Nyama.

After a remarkable five seasons with Aces, Makuruza returned to his boyhood club Dynamos in 1987 after being lured by Sunday Chidzambwa.

It was at Dynamos that Makuruza won his first medal after leading the all-conquering Glamour Boys to a back to back league championship.

During the same period DeMbare won almost every trophy that was on offer.

At Dynamos, Makuruza teamed up with such players like Moses Chunga, Oliver Kateya, Gift Mupariwa, David Mandigora, Misheck Chidzambwa and Kenneth Jere.

“Re-joining Dynamos was a dream come true for me. It was very special to play for Dynamos those days. Just as the case today Dynamos was a big team and everyone wanted to be associated with them,” he says.

“I won everything with Dynamos. There were a lot of good players there. That Dynamos team dominated for years.”

And with the Harare derby coming on tomorrow, Makuruza feels local football standards have deteriorated and something urgent should be done.

“During our playing days, we had the love for the game. These days, people are more concerned about money and not the game itself. It’s not a secret that football standards have reached alarming levels in the country.

“There is no longer a derby to talk about. Today’s players lack passion of playing for big teams like Dynamos and CAPS.

“Even at national level things are bad. There are no grassroots programmes to talk about and it’s very bad. How do you identify talent when there are no such platforms?

“Something should be done. We have a lot talent in the country but the responsible authorities are not doing anything about.”

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