Thursday, 29 December 2011

Zimbabwe football: The good, the bad and the ugly of 2011

THE 2011 football season has come and gone with the wind to return no more, but Leisure Sport cannot help it but look back and reminisce on the good, the bad and the ugly of the year just past.  
Team of the year   
This one does not even need a vote and it’s not up for debate - 2011 belonged to Dynamos. At one time they did not have a prayer in the league race as they were 12 points behind FC Platinum but they staged the greatest Houdini act of the modern topflight league as they seized the crown from FC Platinum with virtually the last kick of the season. 
Not only did they walk away with the League title but they also triumphed in the richest cup tournament – the $1 million Mbada Diamonds Cup.
Without a doubt DeMbare were the Cinderella story of the year.
Man of the year
When Ndumiso Gumede was appointed to head the investigation of the Asiagate match fixing scandal few if any thought that he would succeed as he was up against a well run syndicate that included individuals with spines of iron. But Gumede was brave enough to enter the arena in an attempt to clean up the dirt at ZIFA House.
He fought a good fight despite death threats that at one time saw him disguised as a woman. Due to his relentless pursuit of justice the Asiagate scandal investigations will come to an end in March and heads of prominent figures, footballers, administrators and journalists will roll.
Coach of the year
Hwange mentor Tenant Chilumba made a mockery of tradition by leading his team to a laudable fourth place on the log and as such it was not surprising that he won the coach of the year award, leaving Dynamos coach Callisto Pasuwa and Gunners coach Moses Chunga clutching thin air.
Some might have been tempted to cry foul in support of Pasuwa, but if you consider that Hwange also won the Most Disciplined team award then you will be compelled to agree with the sportswriters, coaches and referees who selected Chilumba as the top dog.
Player of the year
The Soccer Star of the Year selection has a tradition of controversy but this year’s winner got the nod from all and sundry – there was no voice in opposition that Washington Arubi deserved the accolade that greeted his gallantry throughout the season.
In football one man cannot make a team but if there is a player who came close to defying that maxim it is Arubi. Despite not having an intimidating physique, Arubi proved to be the difference between victory and defeat for Dynamos.
Change of the guard of the year
Pasuwa spent the first half of the Premier League picking his nose and frowning into emptiness while Lloyd Mutasa turned Dynamos into the laughing stock of the league. But when Mutasa was fired Dynamos looked to Pasuwa and boy did he do wonders.
He won a double after coaching Dynamos for 15 matches or less and they say luck has nothing to do with it.
Best administered Club of the year
With Zvishavane being one of those places were locals still point excitedly at passing airplanes and wave at moving trains, it was surprising that FC Platinum emerged to be the best run club in Zimbabwe.
Not only do they pay their players and coaching staff good salaries, they have given a face lift to their home ground, Mandava Stadium. They were by far the best kitted team in the league.
And they should be applauded for not being sour losers. After Dynamos knocked them out of the Mbada Diamonds Cup and robbed them of the league title they had the heart to flight adverts in newspapers congratulating Dynamos.  
Losers of the year
After finishing the 2010 season on an amazing run, Highlanders were expected run riot but their fire in 2011 was extinguished before it even began a flicker. Gone are the days when Highlanders were a force to be feared; now they are just pretenders among contenders.
Off colour, off form, off pace – Highlanders were nothing but clueless, no wonder they ended on position seven on the log. The less said about them the better.
Disappointment of the year
The National team failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations after being beaten 2 - 1 by Cape Verde. It was apparent that the Warriors were not going to go to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea after drawing 0-0 with Cape Verde at Home and 1-1 with Liberia away but the nation still clutched on to straws with hope – a hope that proved to be false.
Next year just like last year, Zimbabweans will be rooting for other national teams – sad indeed.
Villains of the year
All the people who were part of the Asian sojourns and took part in match fixing to fatten their pockets were scoundrels of the highest order. If they were soldier they would be made to face the firing squad for selling the country for pieces of silver.
The match fixing scandals might not have happened in 2011 but the fact that their effects overlapped means they deserve the award. The national team is struggling to recover on the FIFA rankings because of that and it entrenched poor administration system that Cuthbert Dube and his Board are trying to right.
Before Asiagate came to the fore the Zimbabwe Football Association had a bad reputation, match fixing made the dreadful public image worse. 
Buffoons of the year
This award goes to … the local referees for discarding the Book of Ethics for the brown envelope. From Division One to the Premier League clubs complained through out the year that match officials were taking bribes to influence the out come of matches.
Their reputation lost, the Premier League crossed the Limpopo River to South Africa and came back with reputable referees to officiate the semi-finals and final of the Mbada Diamonds Cup. If that was not the ultimate vote-of-no-confidence then I don’t know what could be.
Add the suspensions of Zimbabwe Referees Committee vice chairperson, Samukeliso Silengane, Zifa Southern Region chairman Gift Banda, Central Region chairman, Patrick Hokonya, FIFA referee Cosmas Nyoni and Cedrec Manengedze Raisi for fixing Division One matches in the Central Region and you cease to wonder why the football gods don’t smile on Zimbabwe.

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