Monday, November 1, 2010

Whatever Mobutu dreamed, reality was something else: Zaire proved utter incompetence. It was perhaps the worst team ever to play at the World Cup. And there was nothing to talk about – they lost their first match 0-2 to Scotland. This eventually was their best result.
One of the nine Yugoslavian goals.
The second match may not be called a match at all – 0-9 loss to Yugoslavia. The only ‘memorable’ thing about this ‘confrontation’ was that it immediately raised suspicions: many speculated – and accused – Vidinic of helping his Yugoslav compatriots. The ‘prove’ was in his replacement of goalie Kazadi with even more incompetent goalie. Vidinic protesetd the accusations, but nobody believed him. As for the substitution… it happened when the Yugoslavs already scored three goals. Zaire were so bad that the whole team should have been substituted, except there was no better players…
They lost their third match as well – 0-3 to Brazil.
Rivelino shoots, Brazil wins, Zaireian defence is… late at best.
Clumsy defence (here against Brazil) – the keeper is seemingly unable to jump high enough. Mwamba Kazadi was the replaced goalie in the Yugoslavian fiasco, but really – was he good? Note that he plays wothout gloves – perhaps the only outdated keeper at the tournament. Money is not the issue here – plainly, Zaire’s players had no idea of contemporary football.
As a whole, Zaire had no ability to play the game. It was the only team which players did not attract any interest – no club wanted Zaire’s players. The boys came out of the bush and quickly returned to it. To the darkness… Nobody heart of them before and nobody heart of them later. Stories slowly started to emerge after 1980 and most of them – after 2000. Something bitter protruded from the heart of darkness, quite difficult to confirm and often contardictive, but sinister nevertheless.
More or less, the following was established: first of all, Vidinic was sacked and blamed for everyhing on and off the pitch. Nothing strange in that: it is well established and sti;; massively practiced African tradition to hire European ‘white’ coach and sack him ruthlessly. He gets all the blame, dressed in accusation of racism. The ‘white’ coach is the scapegoat… Vidinic told different story: Zaireian oficials meddled in his work and made decisions who to play. During the ‘suspect’ match with Yugoslavia, he was ordered to replace Kazadi with the reserve goalie. After that – he was blamed of incompetence and fixing the match. His former players confirmed the story, adding that before the match with Yugoslavia they learned the money ‘dissapeared’ in the pockets of oficials. The team decided not to play in protest. After losing the match, the players were threatened by oficials and Mobutu himself – they were told that something very bad will happen to them, if they lose with more than 4 goals to Brazil. They lost only 0-3, but angry Mobutu waited them at home. They were stripped from houses, money, and cars. They were stripped from earlier promisses of many women. Tragedy followed – it may not be true, that they tortured by Mobutu’s regime, but certainly suffered. One of the best players was attcked by thugs on the street and cripled – the tugs were late and ignorant: Mobutu already robbed the player of everything he had. It looks like most of the team was banned from playing – at least for awhile. The players practically disappeared – as far as I know, only two players reemerged: Mafuila Mavuba Ku Mbungu eventually went to play in Angola (hardly a noticeable career) and much later Emmanuel Kakoko Etepe, perhaps the best player of this vintage, arrived in Europe – he played 1(!) match for VfB Stuttgart in 1981-82 and then for 1.FC Saarbrucken in 1983-84. His Second Bundesliga stint was better – he played 27 matches and scored 9 goals. No matter how dark the fate was at home, the sad truth is that Zaire was simply incompetent team and the players – inferior.
In the recent years some other complaints surfaced: Europeans are acused of racism, particularly the Scots. Billy Bremner is pointed as the worst offender, hardly a surprise since he was never a model of behaviour (in 1974 he, along with Kevin Keegan, became the first ever players sent off at the English Cup final – for fighting.) The other story is recycled: Euroepans were so ignorant and prejudiced, that even didn’t try to distinguish one Zaireian player from another and innocent man was sent off as a result. However right or wrong the complaints, they cannot mask that Zairean national team was largely victim of its own unability to play football, aggravated by the weird demands and practices of Mobutu and his regime.