In the year 2000, Energy Murambadoro was just a village boy in Gokwe, about 350 kilometres from the capital, Harare.
By Lawrence Tichaona Mangenje
Four years later, he made history by becoming the first player to keep goal for Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals, in the 2004 edition in Tunisia- a massive turn of events for the imposing shot-stopper.
Murambadoro was part of the historic Warriors class of 2004, which qualified for the country’s maiden AFCON appearance.
17 years down the line, he still gets goosebumps in trying to explain how big an achievement that was for him.
“It was a very big achievement because It was something I always wanted (to represent my country). So to actually stand there in Tunisia was like a dream come true,” recalled Murambadoro in an interview with Soccer24.
Zimbabwe waited for 24 years to finally book a place at the continental spectacle and Murambadoro, judging by his words, still can’t believe he was part of that historic Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa-coached side.
He played in the opening two games, the 1-2 loss to Egypt and the 3-5 loss to Cameroon, before Chidzambwa gave Murambadoro’s deputy Tapuwa Kapini, a chance in the dead rubber against Algeria.
Gokwe still speaks-glowingly of the experience.
“Oh AFCON 2004 was for me the biggest moment in my football career, everything was just like a dream,” he said.
“What a special time for everyone involved, I saw the power of football. Even 17 years down the line, people always speak about it like it happened yesterday. I’m very privileged to have been be part of that group.”
The Warriors faced a star-studded Indomitable Lions of Cameroon which had the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Geremi, Eric Djemba Djemba Patrick Mboma Rigobert Song and Modest’e Mbami within their ranks.
Despite carrying the underdog tag, Chidzambwa’s troops put on a brave show against their much-fancied opponents and Gokwe says motivation came from knowing that the entire nation back home, was fully-behind them.
“Just knowing the nation was behind us, was enough motivation for us,” simply put Murambadoro.
Currently, since 2019, five different goalkeepers have kept goal for Zimbabwe in competitive matches; George Chigova, Edmore Sibanda, Elvis Chipepeze, Talbert Shumba and Martin Mapisa.
Though some feel that is some sort of inconsistency in the Warriors goalkeeping department, the 2003 Soccer Star of the Year shed light on why that is.
“Consistence in performance at club level is the key.If you are not consistent it will be difficult to instill confidence in the national team coach to keep you as the first choice. Here at Chicken Inn I have Donovan Bernard who I think can easily be Warriors first choice one day.”
Murambadoro retired from the game in mid 2019, drawing to a close a glittering career spanning 18 years, in which he played in Zimbabwe for CAPS United, in South Africa for AmaZulu, Bidvest Wits, Helenic, Mpumalanga Black Aces, and in Israel for Bnei Sakhnnin.
He is now part of the Joey ‘Mafero’ Antipas-led Chicken Inn technical team, a role he is relishing but also willing to polish.
“I’m still a rockie as far as coaching is concerned but I am humbled to have been given a chance by Coach Antipas to be part of his coaching staff and so far so good,” he said.