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Offside or Penalty: Of Coaches, Players and Football Juju

Recent admissions of widespread use of juju at Kaizer Chiefs, by a former player, Valery Nahayo have revived the legend.  The Burundian defe...

Recent admissions of widespread use of juju at Kaizer Chiefs, by a former player, Valery Nahayo have revived the legend. 

The Burundian defender who spent three years at the Soweto giants claimed there was rampant use of juju at the South African club. 

Speaking to, Nahayo said, “I always tell people, but they don’t believe that Kaizer Chiefs uses muthi (juju) more than Jomo Cosmos. All our white jerseys at Chiefs were brown because of muthi. The jersey would be put in things that we don’t know and when we got there the jersey is brown, yet it is white.”

Games against traditional fierce rivals Orlando Pirates were even worse, he said. 

“In the derby, it was even worse. You don’t feel dizzy, but you have that thing inside you asking you why you should play. Some players came with bibles wanting to be seen to be believing in god but that doesn’t make you an angel when you are using too much muthi.”

Former Dynamos midfield kingpin, Memory Mucherahohwa exposed the extent to which coaches went to win games by incorporating various juju tricks and how he led the rituals before kick off.
The use of Juju in Football is Rampant 
“Urine, that execrable liquid, is a favourite of football coaches. Believe it or not, it is viewed as a potent charm to neutralise or weaken strengthen the other team’s juju. And its use is so widespread on would think clubs keep a bucketful of it in stock,” he wrote in his memoir, Soul of Seven Million Dreams.

The Harare giants even had traditional healers on their payroll. “Every week before a game the team would consult a traditional healer. I, as the team captain, would be the one to execute whatever the juju man had said. Whether it aided us, I do not know,” Mucherahohwa wrote.

“The team believed more in juju than players’ ability. We believed in the collective use of juju and consulted one traditional healer as a team. In most cases we had the team’s traditional healers who were on the team’s payroll,” said the player who retired in 2001.

A recent CHAN game pitting Zimbabwe and Cameroon has drawn the full wrath of CAF, over allegations of juju. “Issues of witchcraft are not the prerogative of CAF,” CAF told Goal, however the African soccer board said they would take action.

“We have launched an investigation into the said action and if there is a breach of the regulations of the tournament, appropriate sanctions will be handed out accordingly,” CAF told Goal. Accusations arose after a dead bat was spotted in the pitch.

The use of voodoo is flourishing in African football, such that the then Zaire took nine traditional healers to the 1974 World Cup. The team was humbled 9-0 in one of the games.

Former Zimbabwean sports science lecturer Lovemore Dube observed that “Superstition behaviours may have the effect of regulating tension and giving athletes confidence. It is however important that the practices that are used do not end up causing divisions among teammates thereby affecting team cohesion.”

“It is also important that players concentrate on those aspects that they can control, that is their ability and training rather than using superstitious practices such as ‘juju’ or anointing oil for example.

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