20 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Dembare in 19th Heaven

DYNAMOS touched the heavens by piling on their highest points tally, in a championship-winning season, to win their fourth photo-finish and provide a fitting climax to one of the greatest battles for the Premiership title. The Glamour Boys won a championship duel that ended in deadlock for the fourth time in 19 years, to capture their 19th league title, and ensure that the blue touch paper, for their Golden Jubilee celebrations next year, has been well and truly lit.

Since emerging triumphant against Rio Tinto in '83, after both teams ended the campaign on 36 points, DeMbare have won three other titles -- against Blackpool in '95, FC Platinum last year and Highlanders this year -- after the race ended in a photo-finish.

Their only loss, after finishing level on points with another team at the top of the table, came two years ago when they were beaten to the title, on goal difference, by Motor Action.

Highlanders took their spirited fight to the last kick of this rivetting contest and although they ended the season empty-handed, the Class of 2012 fully restored the pride of this great football club in a landmark campaign in which they evoked the true Bosso spirit.

Thirteen years after edging DeMbare to the league crown by just a point, as they began their four-year dominance of the championship in the '98/'99 season, Bosso finally felt the pain of coming so close, yet so far, from the Promised Land.

But a 26-point improvement, from the 43 points they got last season, representing a 28 percent swing in converting what was a 47,77 percent failure rate, in 2011, into an impressive 76,66 percent success rate in 2012, shows how far this Bosso team have improved.

Only one defeat, in 30 games, matched the record set by the golden CAPS United team of 2004 but, unlike Charles Mhlauri's Green Machine, this Bosso team never crossed the Red Sea to get to the Promised Land.

This was captured on a banner, carried by some Dynamos fans, at Ascot on Sunday which read -- "DeMbare is not reachable at the moment, Bosso, try again later."

CAPS United never got going, after a suicidal experiment with Sean Connor backfired badly, and that they ended 30 points behind bitter rivals Dynamos painted the true and gory picture of a season made in hell for the misfiring Green Machine.

Their 39 points this season represent the second poorest harvest by CAPS United, since they were crowned champions in 2005, and only once, in 2008 when they finished just one place above the relegation play-off, did they accumulate fewer points.

Rocked by boardroom turbulence with director Farai Jere leaving the club and uncertainty within their coaching department, the CAPS United house looks shaky but, if they need an inspiration in turning their world around, Bosso's stunning revival this season provides that window of hope.

That Dynamos, and not Highlanders, held on to win the league championship, rubbed salt into the gushing emotional wounds of the Green Machine family, and they will feel pain of the wicked jokes that will come from a delirious Glamour Boys' family, at peace with itself, after completing back-to-back league title success stories.

The reality that DeMbare could have afforded the luxury of losing nine more matches this season, but still finished in a better position on the table than CAPS United, will make it more painful for the true Green Machine fans.

It's the first time, in 17 years, that DeMbare have successfully defended their league title and coach Callisto Pasuwa moved into the exclusive club of the team's coaches, whose other members are Sunday Chidzambwa and Shepherd Murape, who won back-to-back league titles.

That eight coaches -- David George, Clemens Westerhof, Keegan Mumba, Luke Masomere, Moses Chunga, David Mandigora, Elvis Chiweshe and Lloyd Mutasa -- came and failed to scale such heights, puts into context Pasuwa's achievements and buttresses the growing belief that he could be Chidzambwa's successor.

His critics had questioned the need to glorify him, for DeMbare's success last year, after he featured in a relay that included Mutasa, but Pasuwa's answer this season was to take DeMbare 11 points better than in 2011 and to their highest points tally in a season in which they win the championship.

Only once, in the '98/'99 season when they finished on 71 points, a point behind Bosso, have Dynamos accumulated more points but their fans will certainly remember this season because they also won the championship.

In the era of the three-points-for-a-win system, Dynamos have won championships in '94 (62 points); '95 (58 points); '97 (68 points); 2007 (64 points) and 2011 (58 points).

This season, with 69 points, Pasuwa and his men took it to a new level.

It was also the fourth time, on five occasions, that DeMbare won the championship after the race finished in a photo-finish.

The first came in '83 when they finished level on points (36) with a very strong Rio Tinto team but the Glamour Boys won the title on goals scored, after ending the season 10 goals better than the Kadoma gold miners.

The second came a dozen years later, in '95, when DeMbare finished the season with the same number of points as Blackpool (58) and the same goal difference (+25) but won on goals scored (54) compared to Ndochi's 50.

The third came last year when Dynamos pipped FC Platinum to the title, after another deadlock (58 points) with the Harare giants winning by virtue of a better goal difference (+27) compared to (+23) for their rivals.

The fourth came at Ascot on Sunday.

There was one failed campaign, though, for the Glamour Boys when they finished with the same number of points as Motor Action two years ago but lost out on goal difference.

Interestingly, since ending a 10-year wait to win the league championship in 2007, the longest barren spell by this club in its 49-year history, Dynamos have finished either first or second in the race in the past five races for the league title.

Since 2010, no team has finished better, in terms of points, than DeMbare and their worst season, during the same period, came in 2009 when they finished second -- five points behind champions Gunners.

Three years down the line, Gunners are out of the Premiership and Dynamos are champions once again.

DeMbare will turn 50 next year and they are guaranteed they will be referred to as champions, throughout the season of their Golden Jubilee celebrations, and after taking their championships' tally to 19, a dozen titles better than their nearest rivals Bosso, they have reason to plunge into wild celebrations.

That even if we double Bosso's championship crowns, and add the four won by CAPS United, the two giants will still be one title short of the record set by DeMbare, puts the Glamour Boys' achievements into perspective.

That Dynamos accumulated more points this season than the combined total of the bottom three teams -- Quelaton (11); Hardbody (24) and Blue Rangers (25) -- goes to show how grand effort that Pasuwa and his men put into this championship battle.

Every championship has its hero and Denver Mukamba was the undoubted star of this DeMbare campaign, with Partson Jaure outstanding in defence, but when they remember the Class of 2012, they won't be talking about individuals but a team whose players played for the badge and their fans.

At Ascot on Sunday, they got their due rewards.

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