Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Amazulu fall to Petro Athletico

Sports Reporter
(The Herald)

Amazulu..........................................................(1) 1

Petro Athletico de Luanda.......................................(1) 2

(Petro Athletico won 2-1 on aggregate)

ZIMBABWE no longer have any representatives in continental club soccer competitions this year after league champions Amazulu threw away a one-goal lead to bow out of the African Champions League after yesterdays narrow defeat by Petro Athletico de Luanda of Angola at the Citadela Stadium in Luanda.

Amazulu had appeared to be in the driving seat when they took the lead in the first half through a strike by Vusa Nyoni, setting a target of more than two goals for the Angolans to win the tie after the first leg had ended goalless at Barbourfields two weeks ago.

Reports from Angola indicate that Nyoni scored for Amazulu in the 16th minute.

But captain Flavio levelled the scores in the first half with Zambian international Elijah Litana scoring the winning goal for the Angolan side 38 minutes into the second half and they hung on to the lead until the final whistle.

Petro Athletico will now brace up for a tough fight against Nigerians side Enyimba who are the current cup holders while Amazulu have to retain the local league title this season if they want to have a second dance with the competition next year.

Amazulu might have lost the tie when they were held to a goalless draw at Barbourfields two weeks ago and failed to defy the odds yesterday.

Yesterdays match was initially scheduled for Saturday but due to the religious beliefs claimed by Amazulu the game was postponed.

According to reports from Luanda, Amazulu refused to play Angolas oil-sponsored club Petro Athletico because most of their players are members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which, according to Usuthu, impedes its believers from working on Saturdays. The matter was then addressed to the Confederation of African Football who agreed to reschedule the match for yesterday.

Meanwhile, our Bulawayo Bureau reports that Amazulu have been slapped with a $10 million fine for not fulfilling their Independence Trophy semi-final clash against Highlanders on April 4.

They have also been banned from competing in all other tournaments this season.

Amazulu were booted out of the Uhuru Cup allowing Highlanders to progress to the final.

However, the Zifa board is split over the seemingly stiff sentence set by the ad hoc committee.

Insiders in the Zifa Board have confirmed that the decision has not been communicated to Amazulu because of mixed feelings among the associations top brass.

"The sentence is just too harsh. Some of the members are concerned with the composition of the ad hoc committee."

"They are particularly concerned with the presence of Wyatt Mpofu in the ad hoc committee, as he is a former Highlanders chairman. Others also argue that Premier Soccer League teams are free to shun any tournaments they are not interested in. There are no rules and regulations that force the clubs to participate in tournaments. It is their prerogative to participate. It was resolved that the matter will be ironed out at the Zifa Council meeting on May 15," said the source.

Zifa chief executive officer, Edgar Rogers, confirmed the latest development, adding that the Zifa Council would debate the matter on May 15.

"I will not dwell much on that issue, punishment will be meted out on Amazulu and the ZIifa Board will decide that at their meeting," said Rogers.

The punishment set to be meted out on Amazulu will send shockwaves in the local football fraternity as they are also due to be banned from all the tournaments this season, according to the resolution by the ad hoc committee.

Usuthu, who are bankrolled by Bulawayo businessman Delma Lupepe, are likely not to participate in the OK Grand Challenge pencilled for July 31 with the kick-off of the first round.

Premiership teams will also participate in the Zifa Unity Cup in November and Amazulu might not be part of the proceedings.

Amazulu chairman Kennedy Mujuru said that it would be unfair for the Zifa ad hoc committee to impose such a harsh sentence.

"We have heard about the punishment to that effect but it is very unfair. We have always been complaining that Wyatt Mpofu should not be part of the ad hoc committee. He is a former executive member of Highlanders. It is very unfair that he should be part of the ad hoc committee and the Zifa Board," said Mujuru.

Amazulu were booted out of the Uhuru Cup semi-finals, missing the opportunity to grab the $20 million winners cheque or the $15 million for the losing finalists. Dynamos beat Highlanders 2-1 in the final at the National Sports Stadium on Independence Day.

The flamboyant Bulawayo side were left to rue their lost chances as Zimbabwe Saints cruised to the third place play-off and walked away with $5 million after losing to CAPS United who pocketed $10 million.

Troubled Saints were slotted in because of their gentlemanly and sporting behaviour after they saved the day and played Highlanders in a friendly match at Barbourfields after Usuthu failed to pitch up. Saints lost the third place play-off match to CAPS United 5-2 at White City Stadium on Uhuru Day.

DeMbare blame defeat on poor travel arrangements

By Mtulisi Mafa
(The Herald)

DYNAMOS have blamed their 4-0 humiliating defeat by King Faysal of Ghana in the second leg of the Caf Confederation Cup first round soccer tie in Kumasi last Saturday on fatigue owing to poor travel arrangements as their interim executive failed to secure money for an early departure last week.

The Glamour Boys bowed out of the continental club competition in humiliating fashion as they lost 5-0 on aggregate after having suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first leg at the National Sports Stadium two weeks ago.

Dynamos interim chairman, Ignatius Pamire, said that they needed to acclimatise for at least five days in the hot and humid conditions in Ghana before clashing against King Faysal.

"The conditions were extremely bad for us in Ghana and our players were tired. We would have done better if we had gone about five days earlier to give the boys some time to acclimatise," said Pamire soon after the teams arrival at Harare International Airport yesterday.

A senior Dynamos player also blamed the defeat on the travel arrangements, which he described as "pathetic", and felt that the executive should have done better than the shoddy trip they endured.

"We arrived in Ghana around two in the morning and we never had time to rest. We were not given any food and the place was so hot that it was even difficult to wear the jerseys.

"We were also dehydrated kana ndiwewo tingahwine here (can we win in such circumstances)?," asked the player, who also asked not to be named.

The Glamour Boys also lost their only kit on their way to Ghana and the Zimbabwean Embassy in Ghana came to their rescue as they bought a new kit for the club.

Dynamos coach, Luke Masomere, was subjected to some humiliating bust-up with midfielder Andrew Chifamba who lashed out at him for playing him for only five minutes in last Saturdays match in Kumasi.

The usually disciplined Chifamba is said to have lashed out at Masomere as he expressed his discontent at being kept on the bench only to play a cameo role.

A senior Dynamos official confirmed yesterday that Chifamba "clashed" with his coach Masomere after Saturdays match and there was no love lost between the two.

"The player used some foul language when he exchanged harsh words with the coach and it was very embarrassing. Some of the Dynamos players and some members of the interim executive no longer have any respect and faith in the coach," said the same official, who asked not to be named.

But there was pandemonium at Harare International Airport yesterday as the team made its way to the bus when a group of the clubs supporters vented their anger on the executive, blaming them for the teams heavy defeat on Saturday.

Dynamos interim vice-chairman, Philip Mugadza, was nearly manhandled by the angry supporters whom the teams interim executive later described as "hired thugs and not genuine Dynamos supporters".

Mugadza had to be whisked away in a truck flanked by two "bodyguards" as the Dynamos supporters called for the entire executive to resign, accusing them of "mismanagement" and having "overstayed" at the club.

Dynamos interim treasurer, Victor Nyaumwe, said yesterday that they had identified some of the culprits and would like the police to take action against them.

"The people who came to the airport were just hired thugs who were sent to intimidate us. Genuine Dynamos supporters know the conditions we are working under in running this club and they understand our position," Nyaumwe said.

Interim chairman Pamire, who surprisingly left the scene without being confronted by the same supporters who seemed to have developed cold feet, scoffed at the "demonstration" and accused outside forces of being behind it.

"Some of these people are being used by outside forces who feel that the only way to get rid of us is to put unnecessary pressure on us so as to make it look like we are not doing what we are supposed to do.

"We have won a silverware already and some people are choosing to look at things narrowly and want to blame us but I dont think we have done badly.

"And if you really look at it, Dynamos is a big club which is supported by nearly seven million people and these so-called supporters who came here today are only about 10 to 15. So honestly how can you have a genuine demonstration with just 10 people?" asked Pamire.

Pamire also responded to the accusations of alleged financial mismanagement by some of the clubs supporters and said: "The question of finance is rather obvious. Some of these people do not know how it is like to run a club like Dynamos.

"We are generating little at the gates yet we needed close to $200 million to travel to Ghana. We made a loss of over $20 million in our home match against King Faysal because we incurred so many costs when we hosted them.

"Now people who dont have an idea and those who are being used by outside forces just accuse us of mismanaging the finances when there is actually nothing there to mismanage".

The supporters said that they also bought a kit for the club but the executive refused to use it.

Pamire, however, said that his executive had nothing to be ashamed of and will not step down until the elections are held.

"We believe elections are due in any case and I dont see any reason why we should resign.

"Im aware that elections are going to be held within the next six months. It could be next week, it could be any day so everyone should just wait and things will work out well for the club.

"People should stop fighting for the sake of the club and I dont really see the reason why anyone would want to blame us when we just played a few games in the season.

"We have not done badly, our team so far has beaten the big clubs though we lost to the so-called small clubs. The team is still new with a new coach and we can not be listed among the worst clubs in the league yet.

"I think Dynamos needs to return to legitimate authority so that we do not have too much politics at the club.

"There is people from outside who feel that we are hanging on to power and are causing all sorts of problems within the club. So I believe that once elections are held, there will be more sanity at the club than there is now," Pamire said.

Dynamos supporters chairman, Philemon Bonde, who travelled to Ghana with the team, addressed the supporters and thanked them for the "support" they showed the players and the coach.

"But Im not happy with what happened when we travelled and we will talk more at the meeting as there is a lot of people here," he said.

Bwalya Names Squad for Zimbabwe

This Day (Lagos)

April 26, 2004

Zambia have named their squad for the friendly against Zimbabwe in Lusaka on 1 May.

National coach Kalusha Bwalya has called up eight members of the under-23 team that narrowly failed to reach the Athens Olympics after losing 2-0 to Ghana in Kumasi.

Olympic captain Noel Mwandila comes into the squad, and is joined by the likes of Kalililo Kakonje, Felix Simukonda, Isaac Chansa and Christoper Katongo.

Kennedy Mweene, Billy Mwanza and Joseph Musonda also make the step up in the absence of many Europe-based Zambians.

There is also room in the squad for Zacharriah Simukonda, who plays his club football for Sudanese side El-Merreikh.

Zambia and Zimbabwe were supposed to play a friendly shortly before the 2004 Cup of Nations, but Zimbabwe cancelled the tie a few days before with fears of potential injuries and financial worries to the fore.

Both teams are using the tie as preparations for the 2006 World Cup and Nations Cup qualifying campaign.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Current CAPS better than 1996 squad

Acting Sports Editor (The Herald)

CAPS United have won the countrys premier league championship title only twice in their long history and these triumphs came in 1979 and 1996 but this has always been overshadowed by the achievements by rivals Dynamos and Highlanders who have shared 17 of the 22 titles since Independence.

The 1996 CAPS United has been touted as the clubs best team of all time given the way they cruised to the Kingsgate Premier Soccer League title, losing just three matches against Dynamos (0-1), Arcadia (0-1) and Blackpool (0-1).

But a look at events in the Premiership so far shows signs of a new era dawning at the club and the new crop of players might as well be remembered for a long time to come if they stick together for the remaining 23 weeks — quite a tall order!

Suddenly a CAPS United victory has lost news value as it has become part of life in the Premiership and a side that was lying in second place two weeks ago is suddenly four points clear at the top of the league standings.

So far the 2004 CAPS United looks better because they hold a four-point advantage at this stage of the season as compared to 1996 when, incidentally, the seventh game of the season was at home to Zimbabwe Saints.

The difference this time is that unlike in 1996 when they drew to Rufaro Rovers (1-1) and Zimbabwe Saints (1-1), the 2004 CAPS United is yet to lose a game and has let in just three goals compared to eight in 1996.

However, coach Charles Mhlauri has not had the free-scoring machine that Steve Kwashi had in 1996 when the likes of Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Joe Mugabe and Morgan Nkathazo managed 18 goals in the opening seven weeks - five more than the current team has managed.

But any reasonable coach would prefer winning seven games 1-0 than win one game 7-0 and then settle for goalless draws in the other matches because what is most important in league football is to collect the most points.

Extra goals will always be a bonus but not a must!

It would have ranked as the biggest miscarriage of football justice had CAPS United failed to collect maximum points on Sunday given the way they attacked from both wings - displaying an attractive passing game.

Such is the quality of CAPS Uniteds football this season that 80 minutes of goalless football at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday was much more entertaining than Dynamos 3-1 victory over defending champions Amazulu at Rufaro early this month.

Mhlauri seems to have turned CAPS into a genuine professional club because the reserves or even juniors are playing the same brand of attacking football, which revolves around effective wingbacks and a solid defence.

And while fans in the blue half of the capital city have grown impatient with their interim executive, it all seems smooth sailing at CAPS United where the relatively small executive looks united and business-minded.

We have not heard of CAPS United players going on strike over non-payment of bonuses but instead the club has been busy assembling a squad strong enough to withstand injuries and suspensions.

As a result the unruly section of the CAPS United supporters that ridiculed chairman Twine Phiri and Mhlauri during the off-season friendlies, as the former Amazulu and Masvingo United coach worked on his combinations, have been put in their rightful places.

Most of them have probably repented and reverted to supporting team because at the moment there is very little, if any, to be criticised although its early days yet in the Premiership season.

The next three games might as well define CAPS Uniteds season as they face three sides that will be inspired to stop the current winning run.

After all it was Dynamos who inflicted CAPS Uniteds first defeat of the 1996 season with a 1-0 victory and interestingly the two teams met in the eighth game of the season at the National Sports Stadium on April 7.

Hope Chihota scored the only goal of the match before being red-carded and, if all goes well, the two sides have been pencilled to meet in the eighth week of the current season — what a coincidence!

Worryingly for Mhlauri and his charges is the fact that they are currently in a situation where the only other way to go is down.

Meanwhile, CAPS Uniteds winning run has come at a cost to the environment, especially the trees around the National Sports Stadium as most fans take branches or anything green —vegetables and maize stems — with them into the giant stadium.

Environmental activists must be wishing for CAPS Uniteds winning run to come to an end or for someone to supply the club with enough replica kit for the supporters to wear as this will help in the reduction of vegetation destruction around the National Sports Stadium.

CAPS Uniteds next five matches

Week 8: Away to Dynamos

Week 9: Home to Railstars

Week 10: Away to Amazulu

Week 11: Home to Kwekwe Cables

Week 12: Away to Wankie

Chunga furious with referee

By Mtulisi Mafa (The Herald)

HIGHLANDERS made good their Premiership season with an important 2-0 home win against Shabanie Mine as city rivals Railstars continued with their fine run to earn a point with a 1-1 draw at Wankie.

It was the second consecutive league defeat for Moses Chunga’s men and it left the once flying asbestos miners enveloped in a nightmare.

They have drawn blanks in the last two games and the return of Patrick Mandizha and Zvenyika Makonese could not stop determined Highlanders in front of an expectant home crowd at Barbourfields.

But yesterday Chunga joined former Dynamos teammate Josh Mhizha, now coach of Sundowns, in criticising the match officials at Barbourfields.

Chunga was very furious with referee Philip Kawara for what he perceived as bad officiating at Barbourfields but unlike Mhizha he was not sent packing into the terraces.

"It’s very disheartening that you work very hard only to be let down by three-men. It has become a known fact that every team that goes to play Highlanders at Barbourfields will always have problems with the officiating there.

"I would like to see my fellow coach, Madinda (Ndlovu) saying something about the referees because when they were beaten by Dynamos he cried foul over bad refereeing.

"But it would be bad if he keeps quite when it was clear that there was bad refereeing because they won the match.

"It discourages me a lot because when you go to certain stadiums like Barbourfields and Sakubva you already know that you will not win

"If this trend continues you ask yourself whether it is still worth it to stay in football because some of us who are hardworking will be forced to go into farming."

Chunga added that there was need to hold seminars with match officials so that they understand the role they are supposed to play in improving football standards.

Chunga also distanced himself from comments he supposedly made after the match and said he was seeking audience with Gladmore Muzambi to clear the air.

The Razorman is said to have reminded Kawara of the ugly scenes two seasons ago in which he was physically attacked by Masvingo United players during a cup match against Amazulu.

"I only spoke to the Spot FM guys and never said anything about the Masvingo incident. I will talk to Muzambi about this but I feel that is very bad.

Chunga is also said to have refused to shake hands with the Highlanders bench after the match.

"It’s funny if you look at it. They (Highlanders coaches) refused to shake hands with me before the match and there is no problem but after the match someone still expected me to go and shake hands with them. It’s now a problem that I did not bother to shake hands with them after the match."

On the field Highlanders are enjoying a good run of form but coach Dick Chama is still not happy with the way his side is spurning away chances.

Like in recent weeks, he was not amused about the chances his men keep on fluffing and he believes

Highlanders were inspired by star midfielder Honour Gombami who grabbed the opening goal, his first of the season and he has become the midfield hope since Richard Choruma left for South Africa.

Gombami has been sensational lately, guiding moves with exceptional ability and Bosso have found another player with goal poaching abilities in Zambian Dabwitso Nkhoma.

Well in his native Copperbelt up North, Dabwitso simply means "trouble" and he has lived up to that.

With Nhkoma now, there is doubt that they need Chisha, who many only got to know about when hell broke loose in the City of Kings and has never been heard ever since.

Railstars earned a very important away draw at Wankie to underline their reputation as non-pretenders.

The railwaymen moved into second place, five points behind leaders CAPS United.

Rahman Gumbo claimed his first win since taking over the reins at Motor Action in convincing fashion as the Mighty Bulls hammered Black Rhinos 5-2 at Rufaro stadium.

Gumbo will be happy with the win as the Bulls slowly recover from nightmarish start to the season.

The statistics on the scoreboard were flattering for the rest of the Mighty Bulls family and probably more on midfielder Mike Bingadadi who notched his second hattrick against the same team.

There seems to be trouble lurking around every corner at Black Rhinos.

The army-men 5-2 defeat to Motor Action will not amuse anyone associated with the 1984 and 1987 champions.

Worse still three goals came in the first ten minutes and that prompted Mumba to haul Warriors stopper Ephraim Mazarura off the park.

A dismal show on the day for Mazarura, the kind that can cost one a Warriors jersey if anyone was to seriously consider the inspiring forms of CAPS’ Witness Munkuli or Andrew Chisunga from Shabanie Mine.

Sundowns beat Eiffel Flats 2-0 courtesy of a double strike from Have-A-Look Dube. Sundowns have been winning their matches at home but coach Mhizha will realise that he has to fine tune his side to start winning away from home.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Samson Choruwa to coach former school

By our own staff (The Standard)

INJURED Dynamos striker Samson Choruwa has taken up a coaching post at his former primary school, Glen View 7, and will be in charge of the team when the schools' soccer season begins next month.

Choruwa, who is set to bounce back at Dynamos soon, told StandardSport the headmaster of the school had approached him with the offer of the coaching post.

"The headmaster, a Mr Munyonga, approached me and asked if I could assist the junior footballers at the school. Although there is no money in the deal I grabbed the opportunity with both hands," said Choruwa.

In May, Glen View 7 will take part in the annual Harare Primary School's Zonal league and Choruwa is confident.

"I know how to press the right buttons. Good communication skills and knowing the calibre of the players are vital qualities of an uncompromising mentor. I want to see the kids prosper," he said.

The diminutive striker, who made waves in Zimbabwean soccer two years ago, got a career-threatening knee injury in a match against Masvingo United at Mucheke Stadium in 2002 and has not played competitive soccer since then.

"I am hopeful that I will be back at Dynamos soon. Desmond Maringwa is back from a long lay- off and that makes me even more hopeful."