16 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Hodges Wants Jere to Stay at CAPS United

ANDY HODGES, the chairman who built the greatest CAPS United side of the new millennium, has pleaded with club director Farai Jere to reconsider his decision to walk away from the Green Machine.

The Zimbabwe business executive, who is now based in Malaysia, told The Herald yesterday that the last thing CAPS United needed, as they battle to find answers after one of their worst seasons in history, was boardroom turbulence.

Hodges, who closely follows the team he turned into champions of Zimbabwe in a landmark season in 2004, feels Jere's departure would be a huge blow to the club, especially considering that he has been the principal sponsor for the last six years.

Jere dropped a bombshell on Monday, in a meeting with fellow club director Twine Phiri, that he was leaving the club's administrative structures where he held the powerful portfolio of vice-president.

Hodges believes this isn't the right time to walk away.

"As I am not home in Zimbabwe, I wondered if you could pass on a message for me to Farai Jere," said Hodges.

"I wish to join the chorus of fans who ask him not to leave CAPS United at this time.

"This is an individual who loves, supports and breathes CAPS United and it is such people that the team needs. I would request he reconsiders his decision and I believe he has the support of all true CAPS United fans to do this."

Hodges provided the boardroom leadership as CAPS United ended eight years of waiting to capture their second league championship, after Independence, when Charles Mhlauri guided them to glory in 2004.

That Super Green Machine racked a record points tally of 79, winning 25 of their 30 league matches, drawing four and losing only one to Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium in a seven-goal thriller that went the way of the Bulawayo giants.

CAPS United were unbeaten on the road, throughout the season, and finished the marathon 15 points better off than second-placed team, Highlanders, in the championship race.

Such was their superiority, that season, CAPS United had the best strikeforce, scoring 71 goals, 18 better than Shabanie who were second in the overall scoring charts, and the best defence (19 goals conceded).

Given their superior goal difference (plus 52), in a season in which they scored 71 goals and conceded 19, compared to (plus 25 for Bosso), it means CAPS United would even have had afforded the luxury of losing five more matches, on scorelines of not worse than 0-5 in each match, but still emerged as champions in the race.

The Green Machine's incredible performance, that year, is put into perspective when you consider that they reaped more points (79), playing in a 30-game season, than the 78 points, which was the previous record, which Bosso had harvested in a 38-game season in 2000.

Hodges said there was no short-cut to success and, after CAPS United spent eight years trying to find the right formula to emulate the championship-winning feat of Steve Kwashi and his men in 1996, the current leadership of the Green Machine needed to invest in patience. CAPS United haven't won the league championship in seven years now after last grabbing the championship in 2005.

But it's no longer an easy championship to win and Bosso haven't grabbed one in six years and are hoping to end that lengthy wait this year although the odds favour Dynamos.

The Glamour Boys need a draw in their final game at Ascot on Sunday to win back-to-back league titles, the first time they will be successfully defending their crown in 17 years and, until they won their first title in the new millennium in 2007, they had gone for 10 years without being champions in the longest barren spell, in terms of their search for the ultimate prize, in the club's history.

Hodges said Jere was destined to succeed, at some point, if he sticks committed to his Green Machine project.

"The road to success is a long and hard one but to such an individual success will come," said Hodges.

Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association leader, Eddie "Mboma" Nyatanga, who was one of the first people to learn that Jere was leaving CAPS United on Sunday night, said he was working to convincing the Harare businessman to have a change of heart.

Nyatanga is a life-long CAPS United fan.

"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," Nyatanga told The Herald on Tuesday.

"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."

"The dust will settle and I'm sure we will have Farai back."

Jere moved into the CAPS United administrative structures towards the end of 2004 and had five players, at that time, directly being paid monthly salaries by his company.

The following year he even got a bigger stake, coming in as director, and the Green Machine successfully defended their crown.

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