The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: The Night Farai Jere Broke Down in Tears

FARAI JERE broke down in tears, in his hotel room in Bulawayo on Sunday night as he revealed, for the first time, that he had finally made the decision to quit CAPS United. Just a few hours after the Green Machine crashed out of the Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-final, following a comprehensive 0-3 defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Dynamos, Jere broke the news he was quitting the club that has become part of his life.

There were only two other witnesses, in his hotel room, the Presidential suite at Bulawayo Rainbow - CAPS United chief executive Maxwell Mironga and Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association leader Eddie "Mboma" Nyatanga - when Jere dropped his bombshell.

Nyatanga is a life-long CAPS United fan who travelled to the City of Kings hoping to rally the Green Machine to make one last stand, in a poor season in which they have been outclassed by the Glamour Boys, in this Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-final.

Soon after the match at Barbourfields had ended in a 0-3 mauling for the Green Machine, the second such hiding at the hands of their biggest rivals in as many matches after their last meeting in a league match produced a similar result at the National Sports Stadium, Jere invited Nyatanga to his hotel room.

Yesterday, the ZNSSA leader told us his story.

"We were leaving Barbourfields on Sunday, feeling rather dejected after what had happened to CAPS United and taking all the insults that were coming from the Dynamos fans, when Jere asked me to come to his hotel room later that evening," said Nyatanga.

"I could see that he was unsettled but, given what had happened inside the stadium and the way our boys had meekly surrendered, I could understand that he was a troubled man and he was not the only one.

"I was also having my own nightmares because Dynamos had really taught us a lesson and when you receive such a heavy beating, on neutral territory, against your biggest rivals, it sorts of doubles up the pain that you feel and it was a very nasty experience.

"I made my way out of the stadium and dropped at his hotel and went straight to his room because I was really worried about him as I have known this guy for a long time but I have never seen him in such a troubled state."

Nyatanga said CAPS United chief executive, Mironga, was already in Jere's hotel room when he entered.

"The tension inside that room, which is a very big one because that's the best that they have at that hotel, was unbearable and you could sense, just walking in, that something was not right and something terrible had either happened or was about to happen," said Nyatanga.

"I took my seat and I was having a beer and tried to say something, just to diffuse the tension, but I could see that these guys were not taking any light-hearted stuff on that evening. Jere then spoke and he was straight to the point.

"He said he had invited me as an elder brother that he has trusted all this time and whom he could bank on to provide a helping hand when things were not working out.

"He then said he was leaving CAPS United and, immediately, I saw tears streaming down his cheeks and he started to cry, I mean he is not a child but a fully grown-up man but there he was, in that room, breaking down and in tears. It was difficult not to cry, too, and I struggled to keep away my tears and all I could do was gather the courage and ask him why he was doing this, why he was leaving the team now, especially now that we were all so hurt by what had happened in the stadium.

"He couldn't answer because the tears were still coming down and he wanted to say something but the emotions were choking him and the words were not coming out."

Nyatanga says he left the room and went downstairs to the foyer to collect another colleague, who is close to Jere, and when they returned, they still found that the Harare businessman had not yet composed himself.

"It was very bad and, in that moment, I knew that CAPS United meant a lot to this young man and he was hurt that he was being forced to take this decision because of circumstances, because the team had failed to perform to expectations and he couldn't do anything more," said Nyatanga.

"I think Jere held himself responsible because he kept saying 'why, why, why?', why was it not working when they were doing everything possible just to make it work, why was it working for others who were not doing anything at their teams to pump up the boys, it was very bad.

"I have always considered myself to be a strong man but, that night, I also realised I was weak emotionally. There are some issues that Jere and his partner Twine (Phiri) need to sort out and I don't think it will be fair for me to say them in the newspapers because when I heard about them, in that hotel room, I don't think it was Farai's intention that I make them public.

"Doing so, will be a betrayal of the trust that he put in me but there are some small issues and they need to sort out."

Nyatanga said he will work very closely, with a number of senior CAPS United officials, to try and persuade Jere to have a change of mind.

"When everything has cooled down I will work very hard to make sure that Jere reverses his decision to quit CAPS United because we really need him in the team and it's not every day that a man comes around and sinks in US$1,4 million into a football team over a number of years," said Nyatanga.

"Jere has a responsibility to the players that he signed, some on long-term contracts, and he can't abandon them now, especially when the going is as bad as this.

"He also has a responsibility to us the fans because we have backed him all along and he can't leave now, he must try to win the championship first and, after that, we can say 'Well, Farai, you have done your part, you can go now.'

"I'm pretty confident that we will find a solution and the good thing is that I'm also close to Twine and I speak to him all the time and I think he will be lost without his partner after they have been together for so long.

"The dust will settle and I'm sure we will have Farai back, we can't lose him to Arsenal, which is the other team he loves, because he still has some unfinished business at our club."

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