Fabisch the strategist…first coach to introduce ‘spying’ on opponents

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SPYING — sending an emissary to search out information on an opposition team — was unheard of in Zimbabwean football in the early 1990s until legendary coach Reinhard Fabisch burst onto the local soccer scene.

Fabisch, famed for coaching arguably the best Warriors team code named “The Dream Team”, in his wisdom settled for a “rookie” in football coaching circles to take the lead on “spying missions” in some of the most hostile nations in African football at that time.

The mission was simple.
Go into Cameroon and Egypt — immense powerhouses at that time in African soccer — and gather as much information as possible on the opponents and report back to Fabisch.

The man tasked with that responsibility was none other than Benedict Moyo, who at that time was coaching Ziscosteel FC in Kwekwe.

The German national — still immortalised today for putting together the “Dream Team” that had wonder boy Peter Ndlovu, the legendary Bruce Grobbelaar, the late Benjamin Konjera, Henry McKop, Madinda Ndlovu, Ephraim Chawanda, Mercedes Sibanda, and the late Francis Shonhai among other football greats — believed spying on opponents was as vital as air is  important to all living things.

“I still have no idea why Fabisch selected me to go into countries such as Cameroon and Egypt, watch them play and report back to him because I was a rookie coach at Ziscosteel FC at that time.

“Nevertheless I enjoyed that role and executed it to the best of my abilities and reported back to Fabisch after every mission and he used that information to put together a game plan that he would use against those teams when they played the Dream Team.

“He was a visionary coach who loved the game, was down to earth and taught local coaches all there was to know about the game,” Moyo told B-Metro Sport.

After one of Moyo’s spying missions in Africa, Fabisch had a request for his protégé.

He asked the Ziscosteel FC coach to assemble his team and play a practice match against the Dream Team.

“I had reported back to him that his next opponents in Africa played a very defensive game and he told me to assemble Ziscosteel to play against the Warriors in a practice match in Harare. He wanted Ziscosteel to play a similar defensive match that I had watched in Africa so he could prepare the Warriors for their next assignment. That’s just how good Fabisch was,” said Moyo — who later in his coaching career took charge of the Mighty Warriors among other coaching stints.

Fabisch was also a stickler for fairness and would once in a while clash with the Zifa leadership for fair remuneration for the players and the local coaching staff.

“He fought for his assistants and players to get better salaries and allowances. It’s also amazing how he was willing to learn so much about Zimbabwean football from the grassroots to an extent that he was willing to put his career on the line for throwing young players such as Peter in the deep end and engaging coaches like myself as part of his backroom staff,” he added.

Fabisch died in Germany on 12 July 2008 after a battle with cancer.

“We kept in touch by telephone way after he left Zimbabwe and at one stage he wanted me to join him in Kenya where he was the national team coach but I could not take up the offer because of my job in the engineering department at Ziscosteel.

“I will always miss him,” Moyo said.