23 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Dembare Eye Immortality

Photo: Confederation of African Football.
The Zimbabwean Dynamos Football Club

DYNAMOS could end a lengthy wait spanning over a quarter-of-a-century, for back-to-back League and Cup double success stories, by winning the Mbada Diamonds Cup at Rufaro tomorrow to light the blue touch paper for a grand season of celebrations next year.

The Glamour Boys last won the championship and the main knockout tournament, in successive seasons, in '85 and '86 but, after a lengthy wait, they have a golden chance of repeating that feat when they date plucky Monomotapa tomorrow.

DeMbare stand on the threshold of greatness, on the eve of a milestone year for both the club and a domestic Premiership where the Glamour Boys have been the dominant bull in the kraal.

The Harare giants will turn 50 next year and victory in the Mbada Diamonds Cup final at Rufaro will kick-start celebrations for their Golden Jubilee season where a collection of silverware will be paraded to celebrate the club's incredible journey.

The Premiership will also mark 20 years, since Chris Sibanda and the late Morrison Sifelani drove the top-flight league away from the direct control of Zifa, with the promise that autonomy would bring commercial success.

While the pursuit of commercial rewards remains a pipe dream for the clubs, two decades down the line, there have been some remarkable success stories, notably DeMbare's unforgettable journey in '98 when they came within 90 minutes of being crowned champions of Africa.

For a club that has always operated on a shoe-string budget, and which battled the demons of crippling in-house fights in the year they reached the Champions League final, scaling such lofty heights was an incredible triumph of spirit over insurmountable odds.

While DeMbare have been the best performing Zimbabwean team on the continent, their domestic dominance has been challenged, all the way, in the era of the modern Premiership.

Six league titles in '94, '95, '97, 2007, 2011 and 2012 means that Dynamos share top spot, when it comes to winning the ultimate prize in football in the country, with rivals Highlanders in this era of the modern Premiership.

Bosso won the first league title in '93, '98/'99, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006.

Overally, DeMbare enjoy a lead that could need another generation, to overhaul, as the Glamour Boys have 19 league titles while Bosso have seven and CAPS United, the other member of the Big Three, have four titles.

DeMbare went into decline, at the turn of the millennium, as various warlords including Zifa, battled to take control of a club whose potential, as a money-making machine, had been laid bare during the '98 Champions League campaign when it routinely attracted 60 000 fans to its home matches at the National Sports Stadium.

But the Glamour Boys are making up for lost time and, having found their way back into the light in 2007, they have never looked back and are yet to finish lower than second place, on the Premiership table, since being crowned champions that year.

Victory in the Mbada Diamonds Cup final tomorrow will complete back-to-back League and Cup double success stories for DeMbare.

Should DeMbare triumph tomorrow, it will mark the first time, in 26 years, that the Glamour Boys would have managed to record back-to-back League and Cup double success stories.

Since Dynamos are turning 50 next year, it means this hasn't happened in half the club's life-time.

Murape Murape, who has played a big role in the last two seasons when DeMbare won the double in 2007 and last year, was just a mere six-year-old when that group of Glamour Boys won back-to-back League and Cup double titles.

Desmond Maringwa, the current captain of the team who rarely features for the club, was just an eight-year-old while Denver Mukamba, the star of the Glamour Boys today, was not yet born in '86 and another six years would pass before the lanky forward came into this world.

That DeMbare team, led by Misheck Chidzambwa, was an all-star cast, revived by the arrival of a genius called Moses Chunga, who helped them overcome the heartbreak of having lost their title to Black Rhinos in '84, ending a Glamour Boys' stranglehold on the trophy that started at Independence and went on for four years.

While Dynamos have occasionally won the League and Cup double in the same year, as happened in 2007 when Murape Murape's extra-time winner handed them the CBZ FA Cup in a 2-1 victory over Highlanders, doing it in successive years hasn't been an easy task.

Interestingly, the Glamour Boys didn't win the League and Cup double in the four years, just after Independence, when they really stamped their authority on Zimbabwean football as they were only restricted to the championship in '80, 81, '82 and '83.

On all these occasions, CAPS United won the Castle Cup, earning the right to their nickname, "Cup Kings," the specialists who just could not be beaten when it came to this format of the game, especially in the biggest knockout tournament in the country back then.

Some argue that the greatest DeMbare team was the Class of '76, inspired by the legendary George Shaya at the peak of his athletic powers, which scored 117 goals, hammered Zimbabwe Saints 8-1 to win the Castle Cup, Chibuku 8-0 to clinch the Nyore Nyore Shield, and were crowned champions of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.

But even that great team, whose only blemish was losing the semi-finals of the Chibuku Trophy to Saints, did not write back-to-back League and Cup success stories, which probably puts into context, how difficult it is to do that.

So, Callisto Pasuwa and his troops stand on the threshold of achieving something special for their club and, after having become the first group of Glamour Boys to successfully defend their league championship in 17 years, they could open another chapter in their success story by winning the Mbada Diamonds Cup tomorrow.

Even if they lose the Mbada Diamonds Cup tomorrow, DeMbare will still have the bragging rights of going into the 20th season of the top-flight league, in the era of the modern Premiership, and their Golden Jubilee anniversary, as the dominant bull in the kraal.

While they share an equal number of league titles with Bosso in that period (six), Dynamos tops the overall table, since '93 season, with 1 079 points, with six of their points having been deducted for using Tendai Mwarura (2002) and Edmore Mufema (2003) when they were at the centre of a dispute.

Bosso, overally, have accumulated 1 056 points.

CAPS United, with three league titles to their name during that period, lie in third place with 954 points.

DeMbare have won more games (311 league matches), since '93, than any other team with Bosso in second place (301 league matches won) and CAPS United a distant third with 271 league matches won.

The Glamour Boys have scored more goals (954), within the same period which covers 19 league championship seasons, than any other team while CAPS United are second with 849 goals scored and Bosso are in third place with 844 goals.

DeMbare have lost the least number of games (111) while Bosso have lost 120 and the Green Machine have lost 162 matches.

Bosso have conceded the least number of goals, during the period under review, letting in 487 goals while DeMbare have conceded 501 and CAPS United have let in 575 goals.

Dynamos deducted six points for using Mwarura and Mufema in the 2002 and 2003 seasons when there were irregularities in their registration.

There was on season of 38 league matches and one season of 26 league games.

Dynamos have six league championship titles, Highlanders have six, CAPS United have three

Dynamos have finished as runners-up FIVE times -- '96,'98/'99,2008,2009,2010

Highlanders have finished as runners-up FIVE times -- '94,2003,2004,2007,2012

CAPS United have finished runners-up TWICE - '93, '97

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