18 September 2018

Zimbabwe: It's 2005 Revisited

An identical seven wins in 26 league matches, a difference of just TWO points between then and now, more goals conceded than those scored, no wonder some are now saying these could be the worst Glamour Boys ever

Khama Billiat was just 15, so was Knowledge Musona, the Warriors booked their second appearance at the AFCON finals but a five-goal humiliation in Nigeria provided a reality check of their chronic shortcomings at the highest level.

CAPS United won their second league championship on the bounce, but only just, a 0-3 mauling at the hands of Black Rhinos in the final game of the marathon almost spoiled their party.

Then, Masvingo United self-destructed at home on a rain-drenched afternoon in Mucheke, when coming so near, yet so far, from the ultimate glory when a win would have made them champions. Yuna Yuna, Njube Sundowns, Eiffel Wildcats, Amazulu, Monomotapa, Railstars, Lancashire Steel, Buymore and Motor Action were still part of the domestic Premiership.

Joseph Kamwendo, the Malawian midfielder, made history when he became the first foreigner to be crowned Soccer Star of the Year, a special honour he still exclusively holds, as he stands tall and proud, alone, among the other 47 recipients of this award handed out since 1969.

A tour by the Green Machine to England for an exhibition match against Bosso turned into a nightmare as six of their players slipped into the London streets and stayed behind in the United Kingdom while their teammates flew back home.

That was in 2005.

The late Tongai Moyo released Naye, Alick Macheso responded with Vapupuri Pupurai, Mercy Mutsvene gave us Handingabvumi while the urban grooves outfit, 2BG, provided the market with their hit song, Nguva Yareba, which was released to some rave reviews.

Inflation in this country, at about 1 000 percent, was officially the highest in the world and for Z$44 000 you could get yourself a loaf of bread while, for twice that amount, Z$88 000, was needed to buy a copy of this newspaper.

A Z$50 000 bearer cheque, worth about 49 US cents on its release, was the highest note in circulation in this country back then and the gloom appeared to also have cast its spell on domestic sport with the Zimbabwe Davis Cup and the rugby national teams all doing badly that year.

The Chevrons, too, were not spared as they were bowled out for just 54 in a Test match during their tour of South Africa that year.

But, it was not all doom and gloom. Kirsty Coventry won gold in both the 100m and 200m backstroke at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, Canada, where her extraordinary performances helped Zimbabwe finish third in the medal count.

Zimbabwe also became the first country in Southern Africa, that year, to register a decline in HIV prevalence, with the rate among pregnant women declining from 26 percent in 2002 to 21 percent.

For Dynamos fans, 2005 is a year they remember, for all the wrong reasons, when the Glamour Boys limped throughout the season and found themselves facing the grim possibility of being relegated, should they have lost their final match against championship-chasing Masvingo United, at Mucheke.

Not even three straight victories, in a strong finish to the season which had seen them beat Eiffel Wildacts 2-1, Motor Action 4-1 and Railstars 5-0, had been enough to move them clear of relegation trouble ahead of the final weekend of the marathon.

They had to win at Mucheke, for them to be sure of avoiding the chop, and -- on a pitch soaked by relentless rain that afternoon -- they did just that. Clive Mwale and Elliot Matsika provided the goals that secured the crucial victory which, at the same time, ended Masvingo United's hopes of winning the league title.

Of course, with Njube Sundowns losing 2-5 to Motor Action, it meant that even a defeat for DeMbare in Masvingo would not have sent them down into Division One. But, such was the team's lifeless campaign that season, there are many of their fans who believe this was the worst collection of Glamour Boys in history.

Statistics also appear to support that narrative. But, the Class of 2005 might also have found their match, in terms of the worst group of Glamour Boys, in the Class of 2018.

And, the current DeMbare side now need the spirit of that group, 13 years ago, which won their last four matches, with two of their victories being secured by goals scored in the 90th minute, for them to survive the chop.

After 26 matches, the DeMbare Classes of 2005 and 2018, have the same number of victories, SEVEN, from 26 matches, as if to confirm that they are, indeed, the worst Glamour Boys in history.

While the Class of 2018 have drawn NINE matches, the Class of 2005 -- which finished just four points clear of the last relegation slot thanks largely to four wins in their last four matches -- had SEVEN draws.

However, while Lloyd Mutasa's men have TWO more points (30), after 26 games, than the Class of 2005, who had 28 points from the same number of matches.

The current Glamour Boys have scored five goals less than Mwale and his teammates who, at this stage of the campaign, had 25 goals.

Things also change, when one looks at the defence, with the current team having conceded seven times fewer goals than their compatriots in 2005 at this stage of the season.

However, the Class of 2005 -- widely acknowledged as the worst Dynamos team in history -- found a way to survive relegation, even though they were in trouble going into the final game of the season.

Mutasa and his men, who have been described as misfits and an insult to everything that the DeMbare badge represents, have just eight games not only to save their season, but also probably show they are not the worst Glamour Boys in history.

So far, it's hard to argue otherwise.

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