|Twine Phiri and Farai Jere will take a lot of criticism and it’s good they have accepted responsibility they messed up when they hired Sean Connor|
|Friday, 31 August 2012 21:04|
George Chisoko is a colleague of mine who works in the news section of this newspaper doing exactly what I do on the sports pages of this 121-year-old institution.
We call him Sox and he is a Manchester United fan and a devoted Dynamos supporter, a life-long love affair he struggles to trace as to when it really started during his days as a boy growing up in Glen Norah.
Until recently, Sox’s appearances at Rufaro had been sporadic, sometimes being away for as long as six months, because he felt there was very little, in terms of value, that was being provided by his team.
Sox is virtually my age and that means he was spoilt by memories from watching some of the finest DeMbare players towards the end of the ’70s, the golden period of the ’80s and the unforgettable ’90s when his team came so close to being crowned champions of Africa.
So his earliest memories of Dynamos, which cemented their love affair, was seeing his namesake George Shaya coming to the end of his stellar career.
He then witnessed the arrival of the ’80s and the dominance that followed — Eddie Katsvere, Kenneth Jere, Misheck Chidzambwa, Oliver Kateya and, of course, Moses Chunga.
Sox was also part of the nineties adventure, the remarkable journey which featured the likes of Vitalis Takawira, Tauya Murewa, Kaitano Tembo, Makwinji Soma-Phiri, Lloyd Mutasa and, of course, the General himself, Memory Mucherahowa.
So, if you listen to Sox, he saw greatness and when the standards on the field began to take a dip, after the turn of the millennium, and somehow Dynamos could go on for 10 years without winning the championship, my good friend began to ask questions.
He began to miss matches, because he felt he wasn’t missing much at all and at first it was just a matter of weeks, and he would be back, and then weeks turned into months, and soon the months became a year or thereabout.
However, something has changed for Sox.
In recent weeks, he has been a regular visitor to Rufaro when Dynamos are playing and that bond between club and supporter, which had been shaken not so long ago, now looks refreshed and Sox is not only in love with his team once again but can’t wait for their next game.
And there is one reason for all that.
It’s found in two words that have become a big part of this Class of Glamour Boys — Denver Mukamba.
For Sox, Denver is the real deal, a throwback to the good old days when the magic of superstars like Moses Chunga, Eddie Katsvere and the likes, was enough to pull thousands to the stadium.
He doesn’t magnify Denver’s talent to suggest that he is anywhere closer to Moses Chunga but, in an era where mediocrity stalks our football fields so much that it has become acceptable, this boy is refreshingly different and gives Sox a reason to go back to the stadium to watch his beloved Dynamos.
Sox acknowledges that Denver isn’t the finished product and is miles away from becoming a polished footballer on whom a team like Dynamos could build its absolute trust, as the rock on which they can plot their success stories, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on him.
But what Sox sees is raw talent and, in an era where a lot of local players are so average they wouldn’t even have been given an opportunity to train with the Dynamos teams of the ’80s, that is something refreshing.
I reminded Sox the other day that the same Denver was deemed not good enough for an average team like Bidvest Wits in Super Diski.
But my good friend quickly pointed out to me that it’s not always the best players who are signed and, if that was the case, the world would have known a very long time ago that we have had a lot of footballers who were far better than Benjani.
If all good players were signed every time they went on trials, said Sox, then Cristiano Ronaldo would have started his English career at Arsenal, instead of Manchester United, because that is where he first went only for the people at the Gunners to express their reservations about a skinny boy who seemed to only know step-overs.
If you were a Juventus fan in 1999 you would have been forgiven for wondering what the team’s directors were thinking when they signed Thierry Henry, as he struggled on the wing in Serie A, and scored only three times in 16 appearances for the grand Old Lady.
The consensus then was that this speed merchant was nothing but pace and, the following season, Thierry was off-loaded to Arsenal and we all know what happened there as King Henry exploded into one of the finest football players the world has ever known.
And, after all, says Sox, there was no way Denver would have fitted into a Bidvest Wits project where the fascination appears to be on signing those on the other side of 30 — Thomas Sweswe, Tinashe Nengomasha, Aaron Mokoena, you name them.
The Next Big Thing?
Denver Mukamba’s performances, since his failed mission to join Bidvest Wits, have certainly gone a notch up and while the fans love his extravagant showmanship, something he does even when the lead is just one goal, you feel it’s something that his game can do without. He has taken the leadership role that has come with the departure of Takesure Chinyama and is not only doing the playmaking role very well but is also scoring goals at regular intervals.
Douglas Mukwaiwa, a former Dynamos secretary-general who also worked at various clubs, including Kiglon, told me two years ago, long before Denver had made his impact, that I should keep a close eye on this boy because he had the potential of becoming a big star.
Today, as the Denver Mukamba show gathers momentum, Mukwaiwa can only sit and watch with satisfaction that his instincts were right, when he first saw this lanky fellow, that there was magic in those feet.
Denver’s performance against FC Platinum was as powerful and magical an individual show as we have seen on the domestic scene for some time now and the beauty about it is that he doesn’t really struggle to do it because it all comes very naturally.
Now that he is playing with guys of his age, in the Dynamos attack, unlike in the first half of the season when he was the odd man out in a pack of those around 30 or thereabout, Denver appears to have found an understanding with his teammates that he is enjoying.
If there is an area that he has improved then it’s the quality of his shooting and the more that he is trying it, the more that he is getting better as a goal-scorer who can be depended upon to deliver.
There is no questioning that Denver is a natural talent and anyone who will be deceived by the stupidity of those South Africans, who turned him down, and swallow their foolish assessment that he doesn’t have the right quality, will certainly be making a mistake.
The challenge for Denver is to keep working hard, to keep improving, to cut off some of the excesses that come with his showmanship, to keep his focus on the game and to improve on his discipline because this is an area where he fares rather badly.
Then he can work on making an impact in the national team, which would be taking his football to a new level, because if he can do to foreign defenders, what he has been doing to the local ones, then probably, Mukwaiwa would be right that he is the next big thing to emerge out of our football.
These are interesting times to be a DeMbare fan, like Sox, because it’s not only about Denver’s magic but also the promise that comes from a battery of many young players who are making a huge impact in the team.
Partson Jaure has been a huge success in central defence, helping Dynamos to concede the least number of goals, Tichaona Mabvura looks a huge prospect in midfield and Farai Mupasiri has made his mark in attack.
The high standard they are setting is raising the bar for their teammates and Ocean Mushure suddenly looks a different player and, in my humble analysis, was the outstanding Glamour Boy in that match against FC Platinum.
When we were growing up, we used to go to the stadium just to watch certain players and there was Joseph Zulu at Rio Tinto, Onias Musana at Bata Power, Jonah “Chivhu Mudhara” Murehwa at Pisa Pisa, Mike Abrahams at Arcadia United, Joel Shambo at CAPS United, Oswin Kwaramba at Circle United, you name them.
It didn’t matter that your team wasn’t in action because the star quality of these players was enough to lure you to the stadium.
It’s something that had died a natural death as mediocrity dominated our football landscape and the emergence of players like Denver Mukamba, enough to make my colleague Sox come to the stadium on a regular basis, is certainly refreshing.
Spare a Thought for CAPS United
Sadly, while there is a wave of excitement fuelling grand expectations at Dynamos and Highlanders right now, it’s all quiet on the CAPS United front and the third biggest football franchise in the country is going through a very tough period.
The Green Machine’s performance, in their 0-3 mauling at the hands of Dynamos on Sunday, was shocking, especially coming in a game when they were supposed to have given it their all.
Once they fell behind, everything collapsed, and while the old CAPS United would use that setback to inspire them to fight all the way, the Class of 2012 simply surrenders when they concede.
For a team that has such a huge constituency, in terms of fans who deserve to be served, CAPS United’s collapse on Sunday was criminal.
A number of experts have given their views about where they believe CAPS United are coming short, what needs to be done and how the Green Machine can turn it around.
Suddenly, the fact that CAPS United have now gone seven years without winning the league title is being packaged as a disaster, of major proportions, as if it’s something out of the ordinary for a team that has only won four league titles in 33 years — which is roughly one league title in every eight years.
Suddenly, we seem to forget, deliberate or otherwise, that between 1980 and 1995, that’s a period spanning 15 years, CAPS United, the CAPS of Shambo, Ndunduma, Stix and Friday Phiri, didn’t win a league title while Dynamos, during that period, won 10 league titles in ’80, ’81, ’82, ’83, ’85, ’86, ’89, ’91, ’94 and ’95.
That a full eight years would pass by before CAPS United would win the league title again, after their triumph under Steve Kwashi in ’96, also appears to have been lost to our memory.
That the outstanding players who finally helped CAPS United over the line in ’96, for their first league title since Independence, were not homegrown talent but imported from Darryn T, via Blackpool, the likes of Alois Bunjira and Stewart Murisa, is also conveniently forgotten.
That Steve Kwashi, himself, was a former Dynamos son, is also ignored because he delivered the league title.
We can’t embrace the exploits of an ex-DeMbare son like Cephas Chimedza, if his performance helps CAPS United win the title in the season he is named Soccer Star of the Year, and then question others — simply basing it on their DeMbare roots — when it fails to work out.
That the CAPS United of 2004 was magical isn’t in doubt and, as Andy Hogges put it in this newspaper two weeks ago, they had the quality players, the majority of them national team material, to back a coach, Charles Mhlauri, who was working wonders.
But what is quickly forgotten is that the CAPS United that successfully defended their league title in 2005 was a team that was in decline and, having won the league title the previous year by 15 points, they only made it by a two-point cushion in 2005.
CAPS United only lost once in 2004 but they lost six times in 2005 and their decline, over the course of the year, was put into context by the fact that a Black Rhinos team, they thrashed 4-0 on the opening day of the season with the feel-good effect of the previous year still in the air, hammered them 3-0 in the final game of the year with the league title on the line.
Luckily, for CAPS United, Masvingo United were beaten by Dynamos at Mucheke on the same day when a win would have taken Yuna Yuna to league title glory.
Where CAPS United had scored 71 goals as they powered to league championship glory in 2004, they could only manage 37 goals the following year and they were beaten by Hwange, Highlanders, Eiffel Wildcats, Motor Action, Njube Sundowns and Black Rhinos.
Everyone wants a bullish CAPS United in the league because they contribute to make the season exciting but the Green Machine have to look at themselves in the mirror and ask some tough questions.
Questions like why a player like Last Chibwiro was never allowed to settle and quickly hounded out of the team by some of the fans only to resurface at Black Mambas and play so well, against the same Green Machine, he scored the goal that won the match for the police team?
Questions like why are players always under pressure, when playing for CAPS United now, we are yet to see one coming to the team and improving his game and Rahman Kutsanzira, for all the promise and quality he showed at the beginning, is now lost?
Questions like why are coaches hounded out of the club, including one who was just two points behind a Dynamos team that eventually became champions last year, when in reality it’s hard to point out where he had failed?
Questions like if the so-called CAPS sons are very good coaches, why then haven’t we seen any one of them, since Independence, winning a league title either in charge of the Green Machine or at any other team in the league?
Twine Phiri and Farai Jere will take a lot of stick, for the team’s challenges, and its good they have accepted responsibility they messed up when they hired Sean Connor from the blue and disturbed a team that was now settled and had competed well under Chitembwe in the second half of last year.
But to question their commitment to the team, basing on the old story that they sold six players to South Africa some two years back, is being childish because these guys have sacrificed a lot for their project and they gambled on taking this club, when noone was there to save it.
I don’t like the Glazer family and the way they run my Manchester United but I understand it’s their team and those who were militant decided to form their own club, FC United, but you and me know there is only one United.
Dynamos have sold their two best strikers, Cuthbert Malajila and Takesure Chinyama, ’keeper Washington Arubi, the best player in the league last year, and if Bidvest Wits had not said ‘No’, Denver would have been at Super Diski now. But DeMbare remain competitive because they have an environment where their players, including the young ones like Mabvura and Mupasiri and the new ones like Sekete, can play their game with freedom rather than weighed down by fear they could turn into the next Last Chibwiro.
Even when they were hammered 0-6 by Esperance they remained a team and, while there were some voices that questioned Pasuwa, they were drowned by the voices of support.
When CAPS United are having a poor run, so many names from their past are suddenly brought back into the public domain as people who knew what they were doing or who have a heart for this team.
Interestingly, when the players revolted a few weeks ago after a delay in the payment of their salaries, none of these people, for all the heart they have for CAPS United, was there to help solve the crisis. So, where is their interest?
Football management involves a lot of gambling and Roman Abramovich has had seven managers at Chelsea in the past nine years and he changed one during the course of the season last year and was rewarded with the European Cup.
Now, the same man some Chelsea fans were crucifying for pushing out Mourinho has now become a little god because his money, and his decision making, no matter how unpopular some of the decisions are, have made them European champions for the first time in history.
Drogba didn’t return to play at Stamford Bridge after his heroic performance in the Champions League final in Munich, even though the fans would have killed to have him back, because that is the way the business of football is.
Rather than living in a distant past where CAPS United were a social entity for a pharmaceutical giant, which has also collapsed, the Green Machine fans should accept the reality that things have changed, forever, and all they can do is to support a project that is under the ownership of its two directors.
Fighting won’t help the situation because this is a time when CAPS needs its Unity.
The Battle That We Won
Nothing satisfies a columnist like fighting for a cause, as I did last week, and winning that battle.
Knowledge Musona is back in the national team and, in announcing his return yesterday, he said he had finally succumbed to the pleas from stakeholders calling for him to come back.
One the feedback I got after last week’s blog was that I was wasting space and time since the Smiling Assassin would not only change his mind but probably ignore whatever we were writing. A week later, it turns out, we are the ones who got it right.
“There comes a time, in any man’s life, when the call to serve one’s country overrides everything else,” is what I precisely wrote last week and Knowledge has heeded the call.
Well done son, the Warriors will be a stronger team with you in the side. Kuti Musona ndokuti Warrior!
To God Be The Glory!
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The only people mad at you for saying the truth are those living a lie. Keep saying it.
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