42 years on, juju is still an issue

13 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
42 years on, juju is still an issue STONE AGE TACTICS? . . . This picture combo shows a ball boy during the Harare City-Manica Diamonds Castle Lager Premiership match at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Sunday being instructed to place his urine in a bottle, sprinkle it at the opponents’ goal line and smear the match ball with it before fleeing. - Pictures: Artwell Gumiso

The ManicaPost


Ray Bande
Senior Reporter


THE country’s flagship football league – the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League – was thrust back into the dark ages on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

This happened in the country’s capital city and the nation’s biggest football match venue, the National Sports Stadium where a young ball boy was instructed to place his urine in a bottle, sprinkle at the opponents’ goal line and smear the match ball with it as well.

This was ostensibly done to pacify the effects of the opponent’s suspected magical charms, widely referred to as juju, that may influence the result of a top-flight league football match.

The league encounter which was pitting hosts, Harare City and Manica Diamonds FC ended in a goalless stalemate.

Research done by this reporter showed that the culture of the use of juju or concoctions with magical powers to pacify juju is not new to football in Zimbabwe.

In some cases, it is believed that goalposts can be ‘placed in the pocket’ so that the match ends in a goalless stalemate.


Those that subscribe to that belief, profess that if by chance a goal is scored during the match, a player can pick a career threatening injury.

Seeing players and coaches avoiding normal entry points to stadiums and opting to scaling the security fence to gain entrance to match venues is not new in Zimbabwean football.


This is done only to avoid being affected by the juju that is suspected to have been placed at the entry point meant to weaken the opponent ahead of the encounter.

Midnight visits to match venues on the eve of league or cup matches is also a norm in local football.

Only recently, a heated confrontation at the middle of the night almost ended in a fistfight after marshals and coaches from two teams that were supposed to play a cup match at Sakubva Stadium clashed.

A popular club in the country has a long serving team manager who was known for pinning a small stick on the pair of shorts to be worn by a striker who would be scoring on that particular day.

Resultantly, every player, especially strikers, would search all over their pair of shorts to find out whether they would be the one with the stick ahead of kick-off.

But this is exactly 42 years after the country gained political independence and almost two decades after the domestic football league rebranded to the current Premier Soccer League set up and the issue of juju, which ideally should belong to the mediaeval age, is still topical in the country flagship football league.

Since the days when top-flight league football in the country was originally governed by the Zimbabwe Football Association, which itself was renamed from the Rhodesian Football Association up until the modern day PSL created in 1993, as an autonomous body, the issue of juju has reared its ugly head on numerous occasions.

Whether the belief in juju works or not, protagonists in this primitive practice are convinced that it is indeed a factor that can decide the results of a match.


How experts in juju have never assisted any African national team, where the use of juju is well pronounced, to bring home the World Cup, is a question that they will not confront.

Be that as it may, a good number still believe that juju works in football.

Former Buffaloes midfield genius, Nyarai ‘Nyangwe’ Masunde, whose mesmerising skills in the middle of the park once took him to foreign lands for a brief stint in Cyprus, said: “Juju works in football big time. Those who say it does not work would have been beaten to their own game.”

Staunch Liverpool and Dynamos supporter, Munyaradzi Zinomwe said: “Hard work, discipline and professionalism are the cornerstone of good results in soccer. The issue of juju in soccer is a very controversial topic.

“If juju worked in football, mine owned teams would have won most trophies in the country as they are usually associated with acts of juju. Due to the strong beliefs in juju in African countries, surely the World Cup should have been hoisted by an African country. Advancement of skills in our coaches and upgrading to new methods of training and exercises, coupled with a strong injection of financial resources in clubs are some of the recipes for good results.”

Local Division Two side, Hobhouse Predators’ coach, Douglas Mutsotso, said: “As a coach I don’t believe in juju. If indeed juju works, I think we could have won so many World Cups in Africa.”
In an interesting perspective, Mutare based player manager,


Donald ‘Azurie’ Manhende, said: “I have never seen a football match where a coach never substitutes an underperforming player. Therefore, what is the purpose of substituting players or changing attacking or defending tactics if juju is the match winner?”


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