Former CAPS United players Cephas Chimedza and David Meketo-Sengu led tributes in remembrance of their late ex-teammates Blessing “Yogo Yogo” Makunike, Gary Mashoko and Shingirai Arlon, Wednesday, marking 15 years since death trio perished in a horrific car crash near Harare.
Exciting midfielder Makunike, roving left-back Mashoko and sure footed goal-poacher Arlon died when the car they were traveling in crashed into a pillar and burst into flames along the Harare-Bulawayo on a bridge near Norton on March 13, 2004.
The three players were traveling from Bulawayo, after a league match against Njube Sundowns when they decided to return to Harare in a supporter’s car.
Five people died in the tragedy.
Belgium-based Chimedza said even though 15 years had passed since the horrific accident, the trio would forever remain in his heart.
“It’s now 15 years but I still remember that fateful day like yesterday, how we have recovered mentally from such a horrific scene I don’t know. RIP Yogo, Gary and Shingi. Forever in our hearts,” Chimedza wrote on his Facebook page.
Ex-CAPS skipper Maketo-Sengu, who now works for a local radio station as a sports commentator, said the trio’s death at the peak of their careers was a big loss to Zimbabwean football.
“Today marks the 15th anniversary of the deaths of CAPS United players Blessing Makunike, Gary Mashoko and Shingirai Arlon and two of our fans when they were burnt near Lake Chivero Bridge. (It was) early Sunday morning, (they were) coming from Bulawayo were we played Njube Sundowns at Luveve Stadium
“It was a big loss to the Zimbabwe football fraternity, CAPS United, the Makunike, Mashoko and Arlon families. Their skills and talent live fresh in our minds. RIP Yogo Yogo, Chile Arlon and Mudhara Gary till we meet again,” Sengu also wrote on his social media page.
At the time of the accident, the late three were at the peak of their careers with Makunike, who had just returned from a stint in Yugoslavia, reportedly linked with a professional contract at one of the top leagues in Europe.
Veteran striker Arlon, ironically had also just rejoined CAPS United from Sporting Lions at the start of the 2004 season while Mashoko was in the process of making a comeback after having recovered from a broken ankle he had suffered during the 2003 season.
The trio’s tragic death galvanized the remaining CAPS United squad, which also included the current head coach Lloyd Chitembwe, into a formidable squad that went on to win the 2004 league title, losing only one match along the way.