THE 2015 stellar football menu has come and gone. While the menu might have also been punctuated with some disturbing occurrences that bordered around players, clubs and fans indiscipline, questionable administration of the game at Zifa among other sad developments, B Metro Sport took time to look at some of the besties of this past year.
Good Morning Rio
The Zimbabwe women’s football side the Mighty Warriors made history after they qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil after beating Cameroon 1-0 (Aggregate 2-2). The all important goal came from chief striker Rudo Neshamba in the 8th minute. The result meant the tie finished level at 2-2 on aggregate, with Zimbabwe qualifying on the away-goals rule.
The 1-0 win over Cameroon was all the Mighty Warriors needed to write their own piece of history by becoming the first Zimbabwean football team to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe last sent a winning team to the Olympic Games in 1980 in Moscow, Russia, and the Golden Girls of hockey shocked the entire world by winning the gold medal in their first appearance at the showcase.
The names of those players are etched in gold in the Hall of Fame in Zimbabwe sport and the Shadreck Mlauzi coached Mighty Warriors, who were almost disqualified from this tournament after they failed to travel to Cote d’Ivoire, managed to join such illustrious company.
The Chickens learnt how to fly
JOEY Antipas and his Chicken Inn charges penned a new chapter in the history of Zimbabwean football when they clinched the 2015 league title with a game to spare after thumping Harare City 3-1 at Luveve Stadium on 21 November.
Goals from George Majika, Tafadzwa Kutinyu and Michelle Katsvairo propelled the Gamecocks to an unassailable 58 points after closest rivals FC Platinum were held to a 1-1 draw by Caps United at Mandava Stadium.
The Gamecocks also became the first team from outside Harare to win the league title since 2006 when Highlanders won it. Since then, Harare clubs Dynamos, Monomotapa United, Gunners and Motor Action have taken turns to keep the accolade in the capital city.
They join Motor Action, Gunners, Monomotapa and AmaZulu as the only other clubs to have won the league title apart from the big three of Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United since the inception of the Premiership in 1993.
As if this was not enough, Chicken lnn became the first domestic club with roots in the corporate world to become champions in 19 years. By the time the Makepekepe won the league championship in 2004 and 2005, the club had long been weaned from the direct ownership of their pharmaceutical fathers and the club was then owned by Twine Phiri.
Antipas together with his players Passmore Bernard and midfield genius Clemence Matawu boldly engraved their names in the history of Zimbabwean football by lifting their second PSL title with two different clubs in the local premiership.
Exactly five years after winning the league championship with now defunct Motor Action, the quartet went into history books as some of the few individuals in Zimbabwean football to win the title with two different outfits that are not Dynamos, Highlanders and former Cup Kings Caps United.
The Innscor sponsored outfit lifted the championship in style, as they also had four of their players- Danny Phiri, Clemence Matawu, Elvis Chipezeze and Edmore Chirambadare- in the 2015 Soccer Stars list.
Phiri went on to be crowned the King of Zimbabwean football while Chipezeze was voted Goalkeeper of the Year.
Amini Soma Phiri ‘Mr Fix it’
When Amini Soma Phiri assumed duty at Highlanders this past September as caretaker coach following the departure of Bongani Mafu, the Bosso ship was sinking.
Many local football pundits said he was not the type of man to save Bosso with others being of the view that his persona did not command respect.
However, ‘Mr Fix It’ , as Phiri is fondly known, had to let his football coaching skills do the talking and all of a sudden he became a darling at Barbourfields Stadium and beyond as he proved that in the shortest time he spent at Highlanders this past season that he was not just a mere gaffer.
He has results to show that he was not just a stop-gap measure as he arrested the Bosso Premier Soccer League slide coupled with clinching the esteemed Easycall Cup after eliminating the highly fancied FC Platinum and Dynamos in the quarter final and semi final stages respectively. Phiri and his boys went on to account for 2015 league champions Chicken Inn in the cup final.
Never mind that Zifa owes him colossal amounts of cash in salaries and allowances, Warriors coach Kallisto Pasuwa proved to be a shrewd mentor grinding results with the senior national team and with the Under 23 side.
In June last year the Warriors beat the Le Coelecante of Comoros 2-0 in the first leg of the 2016 Africa Nations Championships preliminary round qualifiers at Rufaro Stadium. The win came a week after the Warriors beat Malawi in a Group L Africa Cup of Nations match after travelling 604.5 kilometres by road, just a few hours before the tie with the Flames, following players’ protests over unpaid allowances.
Fast forward to November 2015, Pasuwa was sacked by the Zifa board before he was rehired 48 hours later following a public outcry. He never thought twice on bouncing back, showing patriotism, and he is currently busy with the senior national team preparing for the 2016 Chan tournament.
Kenny Ndebele, Twine Phiri and the entire PSL team
Fact: The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League is one of the most professionally run leagues on the African continent.
Ably led by Twine Phiri’s board and chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele, the league has grown from strength to strength in the process attracting a number of partners.
In his own words, Delta Corporation marketing director Maxen Karombo said: “Kennedy Ndebele is a man we should all be proud of as Zimbabweans. He is a joy to work with and deserves all our support to get this league to grow from strength to strength.”
Sparta Prague defender Costa Nhamoinesu was happy with his performance in September last year when the Warriors drew 1-1 with Guinea in a2017 Afcon qualifier, with the only regret being that they could not take the victory.
For years he seemed not to be called up at all while others said he neglected the national team, he finally turned up and showed the nation what they have been missing.
“I am happy to have represented my nation and was happy with my performance. I hope I can improve going forward, it would have been special had we managed to beat Guinea but we are still in it and don’t need to be really worried.
“I have never refused to play for my country, sometimes people say a lot of things, it’s a source of pride to represent your nation and it also gives you respect among your teammates being an internationally capped player, I will always heed all Warriors call-ups,” he said
The dreadlocked player put in a commanding performance at the heart of the defence where he was partnered by Eric Chipeta.
He was one of the outstanding players on the day for the Warriors.
Simon Munawa’s goal in Week 23 PSL action
It was just from the top drawer!
Highlanders’ utility player Simon “Yola” Munawa scored arguably the goal of the season when Bosso edged hapless Flame Lily 1-0 at Barbourfields Stadium in a Week 23 encounter.
After a beautiful inviting curling cross was sent to him from the right, Yola stunned many with a beautiful overhead kick that saw the ball beat the entire Flame Lily defence to nestle in the nests reducing the goalminder to a mere spectator.
“I just thought of giving it a try with that overhead kick. It will remain as one of my most memorable goals I have scored in my career,” said Munawa.
Simply put: “Listen boys I am the Zifa boss.” That is if B Metro were to ask for a video selfie from the eccentric businessman who became the new Zifa Boss when he beat David Carelse Juul to replace the embattled Cuthbert Dube.