Mkuruva wins maiden silverware in US
FORMER Zimbabwe national team goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva kept 14 clean sheets to help Michigan Stars win their first National Independent Soccer Association league title at the end of the 2022 season.
The club, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, wrapped up the season in style when they beat visiting Albion San Diego in the final of the NISA championship play-offs on Sunday.
A first half goal by Anthony Bowie gave Michigan Stars their first NISA title. It was also the first for Mkuruva, who had last won silverware during his days at Harare giants Dynamos about eight years back.
The NISA league is the third tier of American soccer and it began in 2019 with Michigan Stars twice losing out to Detroit City in the competition before eventually landing their hands on the title on Sunday. Michigan Stars finished their season in third place after the regular league season fixtures and this was good enough to earn them a play-off berth in the last eight.
They started off the quarter-finals by beating Syracuse Pulse 2-0 to book a date with Chattanooga FC in the semis. Michigan Stars went on to win 1-0 over Chattanooga on their way to their maiden playoff final.
Mkuruva, who was wearing the captain’s armband, finished the playoffs without conceding a goal after his team got the better of Albion San Diego in the final.
The Zimbabwean goalkeeper played a total of 22 games, from the 26 matches played by his club this season, and had an impressive 14 clean sheets. Michigan Stars had one of the best defences in the league and Mkuruva told the NISA media on Sunday that teamwork was behind their success.
“What we have mastered is that defence starts from the striker. So if you are building a defence, and everybody has to get behind the ball, it has to be the striker first getting behind the ball and the other guys building in from the back.
“Also communication starts from me as the goalkeeper, to the backline and the midfielders and to the strikers. So it’s all about teamwork, just putting everybody together in the right places at the right time. I think that helped us a lot,” said Mkuruva.
The 26-year-old started off his professional football career at Dynamos whilst he was still a form six student at Prince Edward High School in Harare. A teenage Mkuruva became one of the youngest goalkeepers to play for DeMbare in 2013. His exploits at Dynamos and the exposure to international football did not go unnoticed as he was snapped up by Cape Town City in South Africa, after the AFCON 2017, to complement the Cape side’s goalkeeping department that already had experienced Shu-Aib Walters, Samora Motloung and Gershin Kock. He played two years before moving to Buildcon FC in the Zambia Super League, where he spent one year.