Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
FOR six months, they have carried the punishing weight of being dismissed as poor clones of the original Glamour Boys to shadows of the real stars whose quality, sweat and tears combined to build this huge domestic football institution.
Some of the abuse has been personal, the kind of which would have destroyed many of them had it not been for the presence in their dressing room of a coach, who appears to be have perfected the art of spotting rough gems, in this game, and polishing them into something decent to catch the eye of a prospective buyer. Some of it has been brutal, the kind of which should have devoured whatever confidence they had of one day shining on the big stage and, crucially, winning the very prize that matters the most to their army of fans spoiled by years of belonging to a constituency for whom being champions is part of their DNA.
Like How Mine coach Kelvin Kaindu questioning whether they had played a makeshift DeMbare side, instead of the real deal, after his men came to the National Sports Stadium in April and inflicted a 1-0 win over their opponents.
“I think Dynamos have always been strong . . . Dynamos are not as strong as we know Dynamos. I have seen Dynamos playing, I think they need to push up a bit,’’ the Zambian gaffer said.
“The league cannot be exciting without (a strong) Dynamos, honestly.’’ Admittedly, the performance from these Glamour Boys that day flirted between pathetic, the kind of show which used to be allergic to anyone with the privilege of representing this blue army, and distressing to those, who have always believed in this team, being forced to swallow the reality that this is how bad they have become. What Kaindu probably didn’t say in his brutal post-mortem is that this was just a new project in the making — five games into the season — and some sober analysts could understand why those blue-and-white jerseys were looking like borrowed robes on the frames of these Glamour Boys.
Those who say Rome wasn’t built in a day, maybe, had someone like Lloyd Mutasa in their mind and — 23 games after that giant stadium aberration when his Glamour Boys turned on a performance that was as lifeless as it was useless in going down to How Mine — the very men Kaindu mocked now sit on top of the table with their fate, in terms of their championship dreams, in their hands. It’s a measure of how Kaindu probably didn’t see the potential in those players he mocked that day that when he was the one forced to assemble a side low on experience, in the reverse fixture in Bulawayo, after some of his regular players rebelled against authority, and his men slumped to a 0-6 hammering at the hands of the same Glamour Boys who had, with the passage of time, gelled into a force.
And, half-a-dozen games from today, beginning with their home game against Tsholotsho this afternoon at the very giant stadium where these Glamour Boys suffered that April beating at the hands of How Mine, they could be crowned champions of the domestic Premiership. All they need is win all their matches and no one can take the grand prize from their hands and to imagine that, only six months ago, these guys were the laughing stock of a domestic Premiership that found it so funny to feast on their troubles is to understand how far they have travelled in this redemption march. Back then, as if the gods of football couldn’t make it worse, bitter rivals CAPS United were enjoying the grand exploits that come with knocking out five-time African champions TP Mazembe from the CAF Champions League and winning a place in the group stages for the first time in their history.
In sharp contrast, this DeMbare team were losing at home to FC Platinum, drawing against Triangle, being beaten at home by Black Rhinos, fresh from another flirtation with Division One football, and also being humbled at home by How Mine. Oh, by the way, they won in Hwange to try and stop the bleeding in Game Four but this isn’t the kind of Chipangano side that represents a prized scalp nowadays, their potency at home seemingly gone with the demise of that prized lion, Cecil, just about everyone who goes to the Colliery consider it a loss if they don’t win the game.
And, if that Hwange victory gave them a false sense of security about having turned the corner, the home loss at the hands of How Mine, and Kaindu’s brutal assessment, provided a reminder of how much they still lacked in trying to compete with the big boys. One thing, though, seemed to have changed that day after Kaindu and his men inflicted that defeat on these Glamour Boys. Instead of the fans turning on Mutasa, as was largely expected, they rose in unison to give him a standing ovation as he left the stadium, as if they knew the potential which his latest crop of boys had, as if to tell him they were wrong when they chased him away in 2011 when he had built a foundation on which their team would win four straight titles.
Captain Ocean Mushure has been one of the key players in the team and, for a man who hardly speaks as he chooses to let his football do all the talking, his declaration on Monday night on the ZTV Monday Night live football magazine show, Game Plan, that they were going for the kill, spoke volumes. This brutal game doesn’t remember who finishes second and Mutasa and Mushure won’t have an alibi to say that, for the young team they had at the beginning of the season, not winning the league title should not be considered a disaster. Having come this far, and all that has been thrown at them, including one of them — Spencer Manguwa — who picked FC Platinum to win the championship this season, anything save for the big prize will be considered a failure. And those who were saying that, of course, this is a poor clone of the real deal, will say we told you so, didn’t we?