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PSL Giants of Shame

PSL Giants of Shame

IF it’s not about violence, then it’s about player strikes and hiring and firing coaches for unsubstantiated reasons.

Instead of dominating on the pitch, as is befitting their status, Zimbabwe’s traditional Big Three football clubs — Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United — have sadly hogged the limelight for wrong reasons in recent weeks.

Focus has shifted from the pitch to the boardroom following unsavoury developments at the three giants, who are largely expected to be the Premiership’s flagship brands.

CAPS United continue to keep opponents guessing whether or not they will turn up for their fixtures.

They play Bulawayo Chiefs at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon and some of their fans are not sure whether all their players will pitch up, or, worse, stage a last-minute sit-in, as they did against Cranborne Bullets on May 1.

CAPS United president Farai Jere has, however, insisted the club “is among some of the top-paying in the league”, and the disciplinary action they took against errant players was the tonic they needed to restore order.

Across town, Dynamos seem to be back to their old ways.

While the team is sitting on second place on the log standings, administrative challenges are now threatening to scupper a strong bid to reclaim the championship they last won in 2014.

DeMbare suspended coach Tonderai Ndiraya last Saturday in a move that sent shockwaves among their multitude of fans.

Five days later, he was reinstated, with the club issuing yet another terse statement that did not fully explain why he had been frozen out in the first place.

Surprisingly, when the gaffer was suspended, Dynamos were enjoying a fine start to the title race, as they were second on the log and a point behind Chicken Inn.

The 44-year-old coach took over from Lloyd Chigowe in March 2019 and transformed DeMbare from relegation candidates to serious title contenders.

Before the abandoned match against Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium on May 15, the team had gone for nine games without tasting defeat.

They recorded seven wins and two draws during that run.

But, they now face Herentals at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon in the wake of the recent turmoil.

Gift Muzadzi, who took charge of Dynamos’ training sessions in the absence of Ndiraya, had a torrid time trying to psyche up players.

“Psychologically, we tried our level best to keep the players focused,” Muzadzi said.

Club chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze, who had left under a cloud, is also back in the trenches at Dynamos.

Similarly, it has not been smooth sailing at Highlanders, who fired coach Mandla Mpofu for poor results soon after the abandoned match against Dynamos.

Three weeks earlier, Highlanders’ match against FC Platinum ended prematurely due to a pitch invasion by Bosso fans who were protesting a penalty awarded to the hosts.

In fact, Bosso, who last won the league title in 2006, have actually become synonymous with crowd trouble than performances on the pitch, where they have struggled to win on the road over the years.

Dynamos are also not spared.

Their fans caused the abandonment of the Battle of Zimbabwe clash against Highlanders.

The blockbuster encounter was called off in the 92nd minute after DeMbare fans swarmed the pitch, tore down nets and destroyed goalposts protesting Highlanders’ goal.

The two clubs are now set to appear before a PSL disciplinary committee on June 8. Yet, many thought the unveiling of a massive sponsorship package by Sakunda Holdings would help in stabilising Bosso and DeMbare.

But, just eight months down the line, it is a different story.

And, when one adds the seemingly never-ending financial woes at CAPS United, then it is clear the Big Three have not lived up to expectations.

In fact, they have conspired to be the worst advertisers of the Premiership.

Highlanders chairperson Johnfart Sibanda acknowledged that Bosso are in a bad space.

“I wouldn’t say I am comfortable, there is a lot that needs to be done as a club,” he told The Sunday Mail Sport.

“I am sure you have seen we have tried to do some changes with our technical team. We are trying to remain focused and come up with some strategies where we can improve as a team.

“Our current position on the log is not pleasing at all, that is for everyone to see, and I can’t overemphasise that.

“We are working tirelessly as a team, as a unit; we ought to come back,” he said.

Bosso were 12th on the log before their match against ZPC Kariba at Nyamhunga Stadium yesterday.

For all their troubles, Sibanda feels Bosso have done well in terms of corporate governance.

“As Highlanders, I am happy and proud to say in terms of corporate governance, that is Highlanders for you.

“We are number one, our accounts are audited, structures are intact and in terms of club licensing, all our slots are now filled, so I would certainly say we are the flagship team of Zimbabwe football.

“Yes, performance on the ground doesn’t reflect the same and I hope very soon you will see a different Highlanders.”

His DeMbare counterpart, Isaiah Mupfurutsa, feels Dynamos have to “be always on top, given their history”.

“I think given our current status, our current position on the log, we are where we are supposed to be.

“That’s the level that we should be as Dynamos. We are not a bottom team or mid-table team given what we have established over the years,” he said.

“Our history is there to confirm that we are a club that is driven by success. We are known for glory, for victory and that culture has actually sunk into our supporters. We strive to achieve that.

“Any move that we do in the club will be aiming at achieving such kind of things.”

He, however, admitted his club had been pushed into the shadow by teams such as FC Platinum, Chicken Inn and Ngezi Platinum since their last triumph in 2014.

“Remember, when we came in, the club was in the relegation zone and we managed to save it.

“But, we then went on to rebuild and embarked on a transformation exercise, which was somehow affected by Covid-19.

“I think we had started very well and the results are beginning to manifest now.”

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