The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Somehow We Made It Fashionable That Urine Could Be Sprinkled At the Opposition Goal and Opposition Coach

IT'S the week Jesus Christ, our Saviour, rose from the dead and the weekend mighty Liverpool could rise from the dead, and effectively capture their first English Premiership title in more than two decades and, whether or not a prophet saw it coming, is something open for both public, and courtroom, discussions.

Prophet Uebert Angel has taken SuperSport to court disputing a story carried on their website in which he was quoted, a few months ago, saying that the Reds will this season and end 24 years of waiting by being crowned champions of England again.

"Liverpool, I am with you this year and God has shown me he is returning you to your glory days," the SuperSport website quoted Angel as saying, comments the charismatic prophet has since denied ever making.

But Liverpool could still be champions again, whether or not their return to greatness was foretold to a prophet, and it could happen tomorrow, if they win against Chelsea, who are set to field a severely weakened side, and results elsewhere, involving Manchester City, go their way.

Liverpool's remarkable journey this season has been one of world football's greatest stories, a gentle giant that has been in a coma, for more than two decades, finally waking up to take its place at the top of the English football tree, playing the game with a swagger and attacking instincts that were a throwback to the glory days of Barnes, Dalglish, Beardsley and Rush.

The Reds represent the ultimate enemy, if you are a United fan like me, but there are some special moments that football throws at us, some remarkable tales that dilute the hostility, too sweet to be ignored, which provide a bridge to connect the Great Divide, and in a very strange way you end up embracing the enemy's achievements.

It must have hurt millions of Liverpool fans to see United ending 26 years of waiting for the league championship in 1993 but, deep down in their hearts, some embraced our triumph because of the remarkable tales it scripted, none as dramatic as that Easter weekend afternoon at Old Trafford when Steve Bruce scored twice, in time added on, for a defining win against Sheffield Wednesday.

The images from that unforgettable afternoon have remained embedded in the hearts and minds of those who were privileged to watch that drama unfold in real time and more than 20 years later, you can still see Brian Kid, the United assistant coach, right on the pitch, knees down on the turf, arms raised in triumph and the old man, Fergie, lost in that wave of bedlam.

You don't need to be a United fan, or even one of their fiercest rivals, to be charmed by such priceless moments, when time appears to stand still, and all that matters is happiness, boundless joy, and everyone feels it's something that they deserve because it's something they have worked hard for.

CAPS United haven't won the domestic league title in nine years, Highlanders haven't won the title in eight years, but their fans don't need to lose hope because, as Liverpool are about to show us, great clubs can rebound from years of stagnation and take their place back at the top.

Bosso have come very close in the last two years, finishing with the same number of points as the champions Dynamos but losing because of an inferior goal difference on both occasions, and when they look at their graph they can see that they are a club that has been on the rise.

News that Kevin Kaindu, the architect of their revival in the past three years, could be on his way out of the club to take up a coaching post with the Zambia Under-23 team this year, has the potential of unsettling a team that was now being defined in the shape of their God-fearing young coach who has done very well since taking over as gaffer.

For a team whose Achilles Heel is their strikeforce, their return of more than half-a-dozen goals, in their last two matches against Shabanie and Chiredzi, has been impressive but one gets a feeling that everything will depend on whether or not they can persuade Kaindu to change his plans and stay until the end of the year.

But that, in itself, comes with challenges because if the team gets one or two bad results, questions will inevitably be asked whether the coach is focused on his job, and the role of head coach at Bosso needs one who can put maximum concentration, or some will say while his body is still here, his mind has already flown across the Zambezi.

Tau Mangwiro, just like Kaindu, is a young coach on whom CAPS United have invested their trust to deliver a league championship that the Green Machine badly want, after nine years in the wilderness, and while his team is yet to lose a game, after three matches, he knows their points tally could have been boosted by a win in one of their two draws.

Gwanzura has never been a happy hunting ground for CAPS United, in recent years, and Sean Connor failed to win there, at the start of the 2012 season, and his first home game was a 0-2 loss to Chicken Inn, with the game being abandoned, late in time added on, because of crowd trouble.

I watched the CAPS/Buffaloes game at the weekend and was alarmed by the way the pitch at Gwanzura has deteriorated, because of negligence from a Harare City Council intent only on collecting levies from football matches while investing absolutely nothing in return in the grounds, and wondered how artists like Hardlife Zvirekwi can shine on such a Potato Field.

But I was also shocked by CAPS United's lightweight status, when it comes to their attack, and you get this feeling that if Dominic Chungwa doesn't get on the scoresheet, no one else will, and it's an area that the Green Machine will have to work on that if their dreams of becoming champions are going to come true.

Both Highlanders and CAPS United are unbeaten, in this early part of the season, but face tricky ties this weekend but, no matter what happens at Barbourfields and Mandava, they have a right to believe because, just in case they need a team to look to for inspiration that you can come from the wilderness, they need look no further than Liverpool.

CAPS United, Urine Solutions And Superstition Madness

Makepekepe have been in the spotlight this week, for all the wrong reasons, after the wild events at Gwanzura when some of their players, including Zvirekwi, were accused of pouring urine on the seats of the Buffaloes bench in a wild, if not primitive, custom believed to weaken the juju allegedly being used by the other team.

That Zvirekwi, who has been singled out by Buffaloes in their official protest, should be caught up in this mess, is rather unfortunate given that as a brand ambassador for circumcision, who appears on promotional posters and adverts, there is a certain level of behaviour now that is expected from this rising star.

That CAPS United, the team whose president Twine Phiri is also the chairman of the Premier Soccer League, should be caught at the centre of all this mess, in a game televised live on SuperSport for the rest of Africa to watch, adds the weight of embarrassment because of the big role that Phiri played, and the big hurdles he cleared, just to get the league on SuperSport in the first place.

The Green Machine, by virtue of being the PSL chairman's team, carry a bigger moral burden and are expected to play by the rules, all the time, because anything negative that they do has a direct impact on the character of the league's leader.

But while I agree with those who have been condemning the events at Gwanzura on Easter Sunday and I feel disappointed every time I see the Buffaloes substitutes sitting on the turf and their coach sitting on a cooler box, because their seats were wet and smelly, I disagree with those who have gone into overdrive as if this is the first time such a sickening thing has happened in our football.

Yes, it's the first time that we have found players being involved in this urine-carrying-and-urine-sprinkling business because in the past the couriers have been innocent schoolboys abused by greedy and selfish adults to play these dirty games, and it's the first time that this has happened in a game being beamed live on television.

But it doesn't make CAPS United's offence, in this instance, any bigger or any worse than what we have seen in the past with urine being sprinkled on Bigboy Mawiwi at Mandava in a match against FC Platinum, who have a corporate responsibility to uphold the good name of the company that sponsors them, and at Dulibadzimu when the Tripple B mob turned on him and used urine as their favourite weapon.

We will be guilty of selective application of the rules and regulations if we suddenly pretend to forget how many times we have seen ball boys being given bottles full of urine at Rufaro, in a game involving Dynamos, and sent to sprinkle it at the goal of the opposition and, when a goal is scored shortly after that, Vietnam starts singing "weti inoshanda varume, weti inoshanda."

It happened, didn't it, in Dynamos' league match against Harare City, who always carry this unfortunate tag of using powerful mystical powers to protect their goal to such an extent that when a stray cat somehow roamed on the field in a match involving them at Rufaro, and they soon scored shortly afterwards, some people began to call them Harare Cats?

On September 12 in 2012, DeMbare pounds the Harare City goal but somehow can't beat the impressive Nomore John, in goals for the Sunshine Boys, Guthrie Zhokinyi's close-range header is thwarted, Denver Mukamba and Martin Vengesayi try their luck from close range but their efforts are blocked and, as the game staggers into the twilight zone, Rufaro can't take it anymore.

A DeMbare fan scales the security fence and splashes his urine on the Harare City goal, Vietnam rises in unison to give its acknowledgement and, moments later, in the 89th minute of the game, Mushure connects a loose ball, first time, from distance, and its power and accuracy, finally, provides a weapon that beats John for once that afternoon.

Boom, just like that, Dynamos 1 -- Harare City 0, Mushure scores his first goal for DeMbare, they win and, crucially, with Bosso being held by Chicken Inn, they open a two-point lead at the top of the table and are well on their way to a successful defence of the title.

No one dealt with Mawiwi's case when they sprinkled him with urine at Mandava, no one felt it was important to bring Tripple B to account when Mawiwi was abused at Dulibadzimu, no one felt it was wrong and DeMbare needed to answer for the events at Rufaro when the City goal was sprinkled with urine and, in a flash Mushure fired a rocket that sent 8 000 fans home smiling.

Because we set a precedent, and made it fashionable that urine could be sprinkled at the opposition goal, at the opposition coach, and people did it and were not brought to account, we created a fertile breeding ground for such madness and, on Easter Sunday at Gwanzura, CAPS United believed it was also the right thing to do.

It's foolish for someone to use television, or SuperSport, as providing aggravating circumstances that should not only put CAPS United in the dock but ensure that they are duly punished, because whether or not the television cameras are there, whether or not the rest of Africa is watching is all irrelevant because, what is key, is that this outdated custom should be outlawed from our game.

To suggest that it was a lesser offence, for a coach to be doused with urine at Mandava simply because the SuperSport cameras were not there, or at Dulibadzimu, simply because it was so far away from the heart of the Premiership in the capital or in the City of Kings, is wrong and CAPS United are as guilty as all the others who have done that, in the past, and gone away with it.

To treat CAPS United as the only black sheep here, the only fall guys, simply because the embarrassment of an outdated and primitive custom was put into context and brought into the homes of millions of Zimbabweans, and millions of their African counterparts, by the SuperSport cameras and Steve Vickers' voice, will be wrong because it borders on creating an Animal Farm where all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

The Game, The Debate, The Verdict

Enock Muchinjo, my good colleague at The Daily News, used a screaming headline, PATHETIC, to describe what he saw on television on Easter Sunday from Gwanzura -- the poor and bumpy pitch and, crucially, the poor level of the game that was on display throughout the match.

Darlington Majonga, who used to work at the Zimbabwe Independent and is now Editor of the Free State Times in Bloemfontein, started an interesting conversation on Facebook as he watched that game:

Darlington Tendai Majonga: Pathetic football, pathetic pitch, pathetic commentary. . . Live on SS9 right now

Collin Matiza: Zvese zvakadhakwa!

Darlington Tendai Majonga: Ma1 mukoma Codza

Itai Dzamara -- Very pathetic indeed.

Darlington Tendai Majonga -- Some tend to look down upon SA football but on the evidence of the matches televised so far Zim football is inferior.

Itai Dzamara -- It is misguided and overplayed patriotism to even compare the two leagues.

Enock Muchinjo -- I've discovered that the theory yekuti our league is better than SA's is a long-repeated myth often propagated by people who don't even follow the Absa Premiership regularly enough to be able to make that comparison.

Itai Dzamara -- It is one classic case of being out of touch with reality or deliberately blinded. Just taking the simple basics sums up the verdict. For example, the state of the pitch at Gwanzura, the low earnings of less than US$300 per month, compared to the standards in SA where talent is attracted from all over the continent. And, to imagine that Harare City were title contenders a few months ago with the circus they were showing today, is just a huge indictment on the standard of the game.

Darlington Tendai Majonga -- And Steve Vickers going gaga over the City rightback he believed was awesome during the game.

Livingstone Maumbe -- Ground kuita kunge redu repa Zengeza 2. Gwanzura used to be known for a lush turf. Strange it's early days from the rainy season. Vakomana chiiko kuZim?

Darlington Tendai Majonga -- Taurai henyu Mr Maumbe. It's really embarrassing us, but worse it's impacting on the quality of football too.

Livingstone Maumbe -- Ended up watching Liverpool Legends can you imagine?

Goodbye Voice Of Zambian Football

This was also the week the voice of Zambian football, the legendary Dennis Liwewe, died.

Liwewe, who hailed from Malawi, had a Zimbabwean wife and became a Zambian legend, once again illustrating how much our lives are intertwined in this region, was honoured with three days of national mourning, in Zambia, which will come to an end today.

He was a football commentator for 41 years in a journey that took him to 42 countries in 96 trips around the world, shaped the sound of Zambian football in his distinct high-pitched tone and inspired a host of commentators, like Evans Mambara, who became one of our football's authoritative voices in the '80s.

I will leave you with some of his immortal commentaries:

"We are down here in Cairo 1-0 with eight minutes to go! I have been with the national team from the Drankesburg to the Atlas mountains, and the so many shores in between. It's a free kick to mother Zambia. I remember having breakfast with King Kalu and all he hoped for was a free-kick just outside the 18-area. Here now comes Kalusha Bwalya from the eastern direction. I command you in the name of mother Zambia, Open fire . . . !"

"We are matching the Moroccans bullet by bullet, inch by inch, when they attack we counter attack."

No wonder the Zambians said this week that Liwewe would raise their morale even when Chipolopolo, or KK XI as it was known back then, was down.

Go well mukuwasha!

To God Be The Glory!

Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chicharitooooooooooooooooooooo

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