The Herald (Harare)

15 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Denver Is King

DYNAMOS legend, Moses Chunga, has hailed Denver Mukamba as a worthy Soccer Star of the Year, but wants the teenage player to keep his feet on the ground if he is to realise his full potential and break into European football.

Chunga was the first Zimbabwean player, in the post-independence era, to be signed by a European team, Belgian side, E. Aalst, where he spent five years.

Yesterday Chunga secured his visa to travel to Belgium, where he has been invited as a special guest of his former club and is scheduled to leave Harare tonight for a 10-day stay his old team.

"I am flying on the Royal Dutch Airlines, KLM, from Harare International Airport tomorrow night (tonight) and I will be away for about 10 days and hope to make the most of my stay there," said Chunga yesterday.

"It's good to be recognised by your old team, after all these years, that you did something special and I will do the ceremonial kick-off at two of the team's home matches.

"There will be a number of official engagements for me there and I will meet with some of my old teammates and the fans and I also hope to make arrangements that will see some Zimbabwean players finding it easy to break into Belgium."

One of those players, in the short-term, could be Mukamba. Last night, Mukamba was honoured with the Soccer Star of the Year award, a gong that Chunga won in 1987 while leading DeMbare from the front and the former Zimbabwe skipper said the emerging star had the quality to become successful.

"He is a good player and all he needs is just to remain focused because it's one area that we have not handled very well and I think he can go very far, do something better than playing in South Africa," said Chunga.

"It's all about handling the fame and at the same time keeping your focus on the game. It's good to win awards, but it's better to keep improving as a player after every year and that should be his goal right now."

Chunga played a big role, as leader of the Soccer Coaches Union of Zimbabwe, in resolving the differences between Callisto Pasuwa and Dynamos officials during the off-season. Pasuwa went on to win the League and Cup double this season.

"It's good to see your young boys doing very well and I am happy with the part that I played to resolve their differences because I felt the two parties needed each other then and I guess, maybe, I have been proved right," said Chunga.

"I have always had confidence in Mana (Pasuwa) and that was why I took him to CAPS United as my assistant coach and he is developing very fast and it's good to win titles and also win the Coach of the Year award."

Chunga put in place a committee to organise the logistics for his trip to Belgium and his manager, Eddie "Mboma" Nyatanga, yesterday said they were thrilled that everything had gone according to plan.

"We are happy that we managed to do what we were asked to do and that is to organise this trip and we are thrilled that Bambo is going back for a reunion with his old team," said Nyatanga.

"There were many people who rallied to our call because they care for Bambo and they see a lot of potential in him and we are very grateful to them and, when the time comes, we will thank them publicly.

"I have to mention, though, that some of the key players who made all this possible and worked tirelessly in the committee were Josh Hozheri and Lewis Matindife and hopefully it will be a fruitful journey for Bambo."

Nyatanga, who is also the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association leader, revealed they were negotiating with a sponsor to bankroll monthly awards to reward supporters' clubs that go an extra mile to woo fans to the stadiums next year.

"It's a landmark initiative in that it is meant to reward supporters' clubs that do more to bring fans to the stadiums in the Premier League and we believe that, by doing so, we will create a healthy competition in our top-flight league in terms of wooing fans to our grounds," said Nyatanga.

"We want to see a situation where, by next year, we will be seeing banners at our stadiums showing us that these fans are from the Kadoma branch, Kariba branch, Mutare branch, you name it, and this should not be for the big teams only."

DeMbare and Highlanders' fans went into partnership with Savanna Tobacco this year where the company provided free transport for supporters to go to Rufaro and Barbourfields to watch the two giants' matches.

The initiative was a huge success and boosted the numbers of supporters who came to cheer the two giants as they battled for the championship.

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