Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
PREMIERSHIP giants Dynamos and Highlanders have sensationally pulled out of the proposed Supa Power Tournament in Botswana, accusing the competition’s sponsors of failing to meet contractual obligations to ensure their participation would not be fraught with problems.
Dynamos and Highlanders had been scheduled to travel to Francistown today for the four-team tournament that was set to involve Botswana outfits Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Tafic tomorrow.
A cloud of uncertainty had always been hanging over the tournament, with the Botswana-based organisers seemingly taking long to pay the two Zimbabwean sides their appearance fees, which was one of the major pre-conditions for them to travel to Francistown.
Dynamos had been holed up in Harare while Bosso were at their base in Bulawayo, with the two sides awaiting a signal from the organisers for them to travel.
But as time ticked away, both clubs eventually lost patience with the organisers and shortly before the close of business yesterday, they issued separate statements indicating they had called off the trip and were now making frantic efforts to try and have their Premiership assignments reinstated.
But the Premier Soccer League, who had earlier given the two clubs the greenlight to travel to Botswana, took a professional stance and resisted moves to reinstate the DeMbare and Bosso domestic fixtures at the 11th hour.
Dynamos had been scheduled to travel to Bulawayo to face How Mine, while Highlanders were scheduled to meet basement side Tsholotsho.
PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele said it would have been unfair to try and get hold of How Mine and Tsholotsho “so late in the week to try and arrange the fixtures”.
“Our weekend fixtures are never arranged on Thursday, we can postpone on a Thursday, but we don’t ask clubs to start preparing for a game two days before kick-off on a Thursday or Friday,’’ Ndebele said.
Dynamos secretary-general Webster Marechera said they had been left with no option, but to call off the journey after noting that the “organisers were just not serious’’.
“As Dynamos Football Club, we will no longer participate in that tournament and we wish to inform our supporters in Zimbabwe and those in Botswana that we will no longer be travelling.
“The reason is that the tournament organisers failed to honour the contractual obligations and we have since advised the PSL through the CEO that we are no longer travelling and if possible, we would prefer to fulfil our league fixture,’’ Marechera said.
Bosso chief executive Nhlanhla Dube issued their statement on the tournament that had taken an audacious approach to try and operate along the lines of the Carling Black Label tournament staged in South Africa every year and which involves Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
But, unlike the Carling Black Label tournament in South Africa, which has a title sponsor and a number of technical partners, it has emerged that the Supa Power tournament organisers in Botswana were actually banking on the pulling power of the clubs involved to try and first rake in money from the turnstiles and then pay the participating teams.
Dube cited the failure by tournament organiser Joy Setshedi to meet the contractual obligations as the reason why Bosso will not be in Botswana tomorrow.
“We wish to inform that our club Highlanders FC will no longer be participating in the Supa Cup in Botswana on August 19, 2017 as originally indicated.
“Our withdrawal has been a natural consequence owing to failure by the organisers of the tournament to adhere to previously agreed contractual obligations.
“May all fans and supporters be advised accordingly,’’ Dube said.
The collapse of the Botswana tournament should also come in as a lesson to Dynamos and Highlanders, who appear to have latched onto the competition without having done much due diligence.
There have always been genuine concerns that both Dynamos and Highlanders, acknowledged as Zimbabwe’s two biggest football institutions, do not appear to make full use of their potential as big brands and continue to be taken for a ride when they should be competing for megabuck deals with the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
That the two Zimbabweans giants had even accepted to play in tournament that had no prize money for them is a serious indictment on the two clubs’ understanding of the big business that football has become.