insidesport with MICHAEL KARIATI
It is refreshing to note that Zimbabwean football power houses — Caps United, Dynamos and Highlanders, have awakened from a deep slumber and are once again beginning to bring back more excitement and more interest into the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.
The 2018 soccer season represented a rollercoaster for the three most popular clubs and more importantly on the part of Dynamos, who spent the whole season fighting relegation hence the decision to part ways with their 2018 season coach.
It was saddening to see Bosso, Dembare, and Makepekepe, so inept, so lacking in creativity, and firepower, and that contributing to a sharp decline in crowd attendances at footballmatches.
For Dynamos, even a change of coaches from Lloyd Mutasa to Lloyd Chigove via Biggie Zuze did not help matters as DeMbare spent the whole year fighting for survival, which they finallymanaged to do in their last games of the season.
However, that creativity is coming back and those goals are beginning to roll and all of a sudden there is that excitement of old that was brought to the stadiums through the skills ofthe likes of Titus Majola, Edward Katsvere, Joel Shambo, Moses Chunga, Peter Ndlovu, Stix Mtizwa, and the goals from the likes of Zenzo Moyo, Shacky Tauro and Gift “Ghetto” Mpariwa.
Whether this newly found entertainment has been brought about in the case of Dynamos and Highlanders by a change of coaches from Chigove to Tonderai Ndiraya for Dynamos, and fromMadinda Ndlovu to Mandla Mpofu for Highlanders, is something else as Caps United have stuck with Lloyd Chitembwe who brought them the league championship in 2016.
What is important is the fact that the three teams have at the same time brought back the flair and competitiveness of old which has also in the process brought back the fans who haddeserted the stadiums.
Even in the Spanish La Liga, the game becomes less and less exciting when Barcelona are in form when during the same season Real Madrid are off the boil or vice-versa, but becomes moreattractive when the two are on song at the same time.
The same goes for Brazil where both Corinthians and Flamengo have to be in the best of shape for the game to attract more interest, and the same also applies to all the other leaguesaround the planet that make up world football.
In Zimbabwe, there is nothing that can make the fans happier than to see Caps United, Dynamos and Highlanders on song and for that matter playing attractive football as they are doingnow.
All of sudden, those followers of the three most popular clubs who used to talk with affection about Stanley Ndunduma, Peter Ndlovu and Moses Chunga now have a new crop of heroes in theform of Prince Dube, Joel Ngodzo and Evans Katema.
Games involving the three sides are now attracting bigger and bigger crowds as fans jostle to watch their teams in action and hoping for celebration come the end of the 90 minutes.
Of interest is the fact that hundreds of Dynamos fans on Thursday made the long trip to Hwange by train for today’s game against Chipangano, a clear declaration of their commitmentto the 1998 Caf Champions League finalists.
Most, if not all, the other clubs in the Zimbabwean Premiership benefit heavily from gate-takings when they play Caps United, Dynamos and Highlanders, and the opposition is happywith the turn of events as it guarantees them huge crowds in their home games.
Caps United are now second on the table, just a point behind leaders FC Platinum, while Dynamos are steadily rising up the ladder. Although in seventh position, they are not way offthe leaders as they are only five points behind Platinum, while Bosso, who are in ninth position, are on 23 points, which is not bad.
However, to say DeMbare or Bosso would win the league championship would be expecting too much from the two sides, but a top four finish looks possible. Maybe, next season, Dynamosand Highlanders would be in a better position to challenge for the title.
As things stand right now, it appears only the Green Machine of Caps United will launch a serious challenge to FC Platinum’s dreams of a third successive league title.
The good news, though, is that the traditional football giants — Caps United, Dynamos and Highlanders — are awakening and the good old days are slowly rolling back to Zimbabwe’s top-flight football league.
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