Tuesday, March 25, 2014

World Cup '74 Portrait #9 (Bwanga Tshimen: Zaire)


graphite & putty eraser/30x21cm

The latest portrait subject, chosen as usual at random, is Bwanga Tshimen (or vice versa, as the Panini album from which the sticker image that provided the original source material, subsequently photocopied to serve as the immediate visual reference for the drawing, has it: he also featured in the FKS album) of the Zaire squad, who was selected to appear in all 3 of his team’s matches at the 1974 World Cup finals, each of which was lost, to the tune of an aggregate of 0 – 14.

Although very few of the protagonists of the 1974 World Cup can be personally recollected by name (only a modest amount would have registered at the time, let alone be remembered 40 years on), & none of the Zaire team are amongst  that number, one does recall the legendarily infamous free-kick incident, when one member of their defensive wall (Mwepu Ilunga, as it happened) broke rank to kick away a ball that had been placed in preparation for their opponents (Brazil) to address, seemingly as a flagrant instance of indiscipline (to be used as an example to critically question the development & worth of African football at the time: Zaire were then only the second nation from the continent to have qualified for Africa’s recently-allocated designated place amongst the 16 available in the World Cup’s modern era, & were hardly seen as making a favourable representation, considering not least their preceding 0 -9 defeat to Yugoslavia) but, it transpires, actually a deliberate act of protest that unfortunately had not the desired effect (Ilunga had intended to get himself sent off to make his point, only to be merely cautioned), an intriguing detail to emerge from the tournament’s history.

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