DEMBARE STILL THE KINGS
Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
DYNAMOS have been the kings in the first 25 years of the domestic Premiership although the spell they used to cast on the league in the ‘80s — in which they enjoyed total dominance — has been weakened by a fierce challenge from their biggest rivals Highlanders and CAPS United. The Glamour Boys, Bosso and the Green Machine are the only three clubs — among the pioneers of the top-flight league’s first championship race in 1993 — who have been part of every season of the Premiership road-show which is celebrating its Silver Jubilee this year.
DeMbare were the ruthless dominant force in the ‘80s as they won seven league titles during that decade in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1989 with only Black Rhinos, winners of two titles in 1984 and 1987, and Zimbabwe Saints, who were crowned champions in 1988, preventing a whitewash. Although the country’s biggest and most successful football club have remained the benchmark of football success in the country, even after the advent of the domestic Premiership, the Glamour Boys’ dominance is no longer as pronounced as it was in the ‘80s.
They have endured their longest run, without a league title in their history, in the era of the modern Premiership when they went on a 10-year barren search for the championship after winning in 1997.
But, along the way, they have retained a streak of their dominance as they have won more league titles, in the era of the modern Premiership, than any other side to consolidate their status as the most successful football club in the country.
DeMbare have won eight league championships in the era of the modern Premiership — in 1994, 1995, 1997, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 — with only three coaches, Sunday Chidzambwa, Callisto Pasuwa and David Mandigora, behind those success stories.
Chidzambwa, the most successful Zimbabwean football coach in history, won the first three titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997 after being persuaded by Memory Mucherahowa to return to a DeMbare that was being torn apart by conflict and had become a pathetic clone of the Glamour Boys who had dominated the scene in the ‘80s.
“I had always believed the only person who could take Dynamos FC to the top is Sunday Chidzambwa and his firing in 1991 had been wrong,’’ Mucherahowa, who captained the team to league titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997 wrote in his autobiography.
“In my view Sunday is the greatest coach to have emerged from Zimbabwe. He had many formations which mesmerised the opposition and also possessed an eye for talent. He is the one who turned me into an anchorman.
“He was the King who had dethroned. Forced to abdicate and hounded out of town and wrongly so. Since his ouster the team had not been doing well. In 1992 the team finished on position seven. In the 1993 season Dynamos finished on fifth position, having garnered 34 points, six adrift of eventual champions Highlanders and we had no silverware.
“That was a total disaster by Dynamos standards and that is why I took it upon myself to fight for the return of Chidzambwa for the 1994 season. Once Chidzambwa agreed to return to Dynamos FC as the team’s head coach during the 1993 off season, I had no doubt in my mind that glory days were beckoning.’’
Remarkably, he also led his men to their maiden and only appearance in the CAF Champions League final in 1998 where they lost the battle to turn themselves into champions of Africa at the final hurdle.
Dynamos’ eight league championships in the era of the new Premiership make them the kings of the kraal but, given that these achievements were reaped over 25 years, the fact that they won seven titles in a space of 10 years in the ‘80s show that their dominance is no longer as solid as it was back then.
Highlanders are not far behind with six league championships since 1993 while CAPS United, who failed to win a league title throughout the ‘80s, now have four league titles.
DeMbare have won more games than their rivals, 368, compared to Bosso’s 357 wins while the Green Machine have 329 victories as of the final game of last season when all the three giants had played the same number of matches.
The Glamour Boys have drawn 195 matches, Bosso have drawn 181 while Makepekepe have drawn 178 with Dynamos losing 131 matches, Highlanders losing 156 and CAPS United losing 178 matches. Dynamos have scored the highest number of goals, 1098, compared to 1004 for Highlanders and exactly 1000 for CAPS United with the Glamour Boys conceding 591 goals, Bosso conceding 559 goals and the Green Machine conceding 688 goals.
DeMbare had accumulated 1299 points as of the final game of last season while Highlanders had 1252 points and CAPS United were in third place with 1165 points.
Former CAPS United forward Simba Sithole had the honour of scoring his side’s 1000th goal in the era of the Premiership when he fired the priceless winner at Ascot against Chapungu in the last game last year that powered the Green Machine to success.
Bosso, the first team to be crowned champions in 1993, were at their best at the turn of the millennium when they won four straight league championships but they have endured a barren spell, of late, winning the last one in 2006.
Rahman Gumbo guided Highlanders to two league titles during that golden spell when the Bulawayo giants were powered by a galaxy of stars, including free-scoring striker Zenzo Moyo while Charles Mhlauri also led CAPS United to back-to-back league titles.
The Green Machine side of 2004 never lost a game away from home, losing just one match in the entire campaign when they crashed to Bosso in Harare, while the Bosso team of the 2012 season also matched that run but can justifiably address themselves as the unluckiest team of the 25 years of the Premiership.
They also set a record for points won in a single season, after an impressive 79 points that season, and one just needs to see that Bosso won the 38-game title in 2000 with 78 points to realise how special Mhlauri and his men, who got their points in a 30-game season, were.
Somehow, despite their impressive run and ending the season with the same number of points 69, as Dynamos, they ended as bridesmaids because of an inferior goal difference despite conceding a league best 15 goals, just about a goal every two games, which the Glamour Boys also matched.
The difference was in the strike-force with Dynamos scoring 58 that season while Bosso had 49 goals.
Who said lightning doesn’t strike twice? The following year, Bosso matched Dynamos blow for blow and the two giants, again, ended with the same number of points — which must be a record that should be included in the official FIFA records for top-flight battles — 54 points.
Having been denied by an inferior goal return the previous year, Bosso outscored their big rivals in 2013, scoring 45 goals while Dynamos scored 43 goals but once again goal difference dealt them a cruel blow as they conceded 27 goals compared to their opponents 22 goals.
P W D L F A Pts
Dynamos 694 368 195 131 1098 591 1 299
H/landers 694 357 181 156 1004 559 1 252
CAPS Utd 694 329 178 187 1000 688 1 165