Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
GROWING up in rural Maranda in Mwenezi District, Masvingo Province, about 70km from Southern Africa’s busiest border Beitbridge, current Castle Lager Premier Soccer League leading goal scorer Brian Muza never thought that one day he’d top the topflight charts.
Born in a family of four, two boys and two girls, Muza never imagined that one day he would have a flourishing football career and it is only after joining Chicken Inn that he realised that football is not just a hobby, but a source of livelihood.
The Premiership’s man-of-the-moment has netted seven goals from eight outings and is enjoying his new-found fame, after drawing attention to himself in his debut topflight season.
The pint-sized pacey forward said he developed interest in football as a Grade 7 learner at Rushungo Primary in 2010, the same year the school went on to represent Masvingo province in a national primary schools’ tournament.
“Coming from a rural set-up and going all the way to the finals as a Grade 6 ignited some fire in me such that I began having a strong interest in football.
When I went for Form 1 and 2 at Mwenezi Secondary School, we represented the province in the 2011 Copa Coca-Cola finals in Marondera and lost to Manunure.
“I realised that my new-found hobby was taking me places around the country.
It was interesting, but to be honest I never thought one day I’ll earn a living through football,” said the soft-spoken Muza.
From the schoolboys he rubbed shoulders with in the premier schools’ football tournament, Copa Coca-Cola, Muza only remembers Harare City midfielder Tatenda Tumba, a former Chemhanza learner.
He carved his skill while playing for home side club FC Maranda, a project that was formed by former Border Strikers official Ephat Shoko, who is at Central Region Division One side Dulibadzimu FC.
In 2014, FC Maranda, who had affiliated to the Zifa Matabeleland South Division Two League due to their proximity to Beitbridge, were crowned champions and won a ticket to compete in the Zifa Central Soccer League.
Muza was in Form 4 then, but the dream to play First Division football evaporated as Shoko failed to lure partners to drive his rural project, which had been inspired by Tsholotsho FC, who had just won a Premiership ticket.
Muza’s talent wasn’t enveloped in Mwenezi, as a family friend based in Bulawayo persuaded them to allow him to seek opportunities in the “big” city.
“No one in my family saw purpose in playing football and we all viewed football as a pastime activity.
It all changed in 2016 when a family friend, Innocent Sibanda, who was a taxi driver in Bulawayo, talked to my family and invited me to the city.
Innocent had so much belief in my talent that he organised and paid for my accommodation and food, and provided me with training kit.
“I shared lodgings in Pumula with one Elvis Ndlovu, a neighbour from my rural home, with Innocent paying my bills.
I then started training with Indlovu Iyanyathela just to keep fit waiting for an opportunity to get a club,” said Muza.
In June, 2016, Turk Mine-based Zifa Southern Region Division One side Casmyn, then coached by Mduduzi Mpofu signed Muza.
“I got my break at Casmyn during the mid-season transfer window and only played one game that year.
The following season, playing as midfielder, I managed to score six goals.
At the beginning of 2018, I moved to CIWU and scored one goal before being snapped up by Talen Vision during the mid-season transfer window.
I went on to score six goals, ending my tally on seven goals,” Muza said.
When Talen Vision enlisted the services of former Highlanders, Caps United and Harare City coach Mkhuphali Masuku, he deployed Muza to the strike force, and he ended the season with 14 goals.
“I realised that to be recognised and draw attention, one has to score goals and when I was moved upfront by Cooper (Masuku), I managed to bang in goals and caught the attention of teams.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas brought me to Gamecocks at the beginning of 2020, but Covid-19 struck, delaying my debut.
Now I’m enjoying my game and grateful to the club,” said Muza.
The Chicken Inn striker says ex-Gamecocks player Obriel Chirinda inspired his game.
“Look, as a short player, I never thought I could be a striker.
I used to play in midfield and as a wingback, but when we played Bantu Rovers at Casmyn in 2016 or 2017, Obriel was their striker and he scored a hattrick.
I said to myself,
‘If a short person like him can be a striker and harass defenders, what can stop me?” said Muza.
At present he’s enjoying good form, and has set himself a target of 16 goals.
Having realised that football pays, Muza hopes to maintain his form, keep working hard with the hope that when Fifa lifts Zimbabwe’s suspension from international football, he will have attracted foreign interest.
Article Source: The Chronicle