ONLY a handful of supporters were on show at the National Sports Stadium to watch the match between Zimbabwe Legends against the World Class Legends yesterday, which the tourists won 5-2.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Organisers of the event, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), had — like the last time when an almost similar event was staged — hoped to get another full house.
Paying supporters filled the same venue to the brim in November last year when the Warriors Legends played their Barcelona counterparts.
But an estimated 5 000 attended yesterday’s match at the 60 000-seater stadium.
Even the lure of free entrance to the stadium, failed to entice the supporters who chose to stay away.
Perhaps, the supporters might have been put off by the calibre of players that ZTA invited, with Patrick Kluivert, Julio Baptista, Zambrotta and Marcos Senna probably the only ‘world class’ names that came for the event.
Some fans might also have stayed away to watch on television the ongoing Fifa World Cup event currently underway in Russia.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was the guest of honour, might have wanted to use the stage to garner some political mileage, but must have been left disappointed in the end, as he arrived to a small crowd.
There were chaotic scenes before kick-off as Zanu PF supporters jostled for scarfs that were distributed by the organisers inside the giant stadium.
Mnangagwa made his entry into the stadium midway through the second half of the match, but his stay was brief.
He caused a seven-minute stoppage to the game, as he was introduced to both sets of players, before making his way out.
By the time he made his low-key entrance, the tourists were well in control of the match with Fernando Morientes having given the World Class Legends a five-minute lead, which the former Real Madrid marksman doubled two minutes later, beating Laban Kandi in goals for the hosts.
Ruben de la Red scored two more in quick succession, and they were four-nil up by the 25th minute.
Zimbabwe had some good chances which Stanford Mtizwa and Zenzo Moyo wasted.
PHD leader Walter Magaya, who featured as a guest player for the World Class Legends, also got in on the act, scoring the fifth from the penalty spot.
Lloyd Chitembwe then pulled one back, converting from the spot just before half time after Desmond Maringwa was hacked down in the box.
Perhaps, inspired by the brief meeting with Mnangagwa, Charlie Jones curled one in soon after the restart.
However, Mtizwa saw the positive side of the match: “We want to thank ZTA for bringing these World Class Legends. It’s not about football development but showcasing Zimbabwe as a country open for business. The World Class Legends will deliver the message to other countries that Zimbabwe is a peaceful country and an exciting tourist destination and we are happy to be involved.”
The match was curtain-raised by a clash between Dynamos and Highlanders, which ended 1-1 before Bosso triumphed 3-2 after a penalty shoot-out.
Highlanders, who fielded their developmental side, scored through Ray Lunga, before Valentine Kadonzvo cancelled the effort for DeMbare, who fielded their strongest possible squad.
Bosso goalkeeper Nedrick Madeya was the hero in the shootout, saving from Gift Saunyama, Panashe Mutasa and Marvelous Mukumba. Valentine Ndaba and Marshall Machazane converted their kicks.
Andrew Mbeba, Denzel Khumalo and Madeya successfully converted their penalties for the Madinda Ndlovu-coached team.