BY MICHAEL KARIATI
Football in Zimbabwe is set for a return on February 12 after the Christmas break and also to give way for Afcon 2021 where the Zimbabwean team was the first to be eliminated from the 24-team gathering.
Afcon is finally coming to an end this evening with what looks like a nail biting final between Senegal and Egypt and it is anybody’s guess who will take Africa’s biggest football prize home.
The Teranga Lions of Senegal reached and lost the last Afcon final in 2019 to Algeria and it is the wish of many that they finally get the reward for all their effort.
After all, they were in the same group with the Warriors of Zimbabwe whom they managed to overcome by a last gasp injury time penalty but this is a new game and for that matter with even bigger rewards.
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane has done the best he could to propel the Teranga Lions this far and it would be cruel for one of Africa’s international football heroes to depart from the stage without having tested the sweetness of Afcon success.
Although Egypt have won this trophy on seven occasions, there is every reason to feel some form of sympathy for Senegal whose best in the tournament was a runners up spot in 2019, and the quarter final placings in 1992 and 1994.
However, this is a game of football and there is no place for that sympathy and on that premise it is only good for the better team of the day and the best team of the 24-team gathering to take the trophy and the prize money home.
The truth is that the prize money on offer for the winners is not anything to talk about for the galaxy of football stars but it is the honour of being called Africa champions that means a lot to them and their followers.
That is the reason why the stadium will be full as the Pharaohs want an eighth title and widen the gap between them and six time winners Cameroon while this golden generation of Teranga Lions desperately want something to be remembered for.
On the same vein, the honour of being crowned Zimbabwean champions is also waiting for the 18- teams that make up the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League assembly when football finally returns.
That is the reason why the Zimbabwean transfer market was a hive of activity as all the clubs jostled to get the best players available on the market.
This season promises to be very exciting with players like Perfect Chikwende returning from Simba Stars in Tanzania to join Bulawayo Chiefs while Evans Katema who was at Zanaco in Zambia and Last Jesi at Al Hilal in Sudan also returning home to join Dynamos.
What is also interesting is the fact that although the same old players who over the years have been moving from one club to the other still feature prominently on the market, the good news is that there was more new talent on the same transfer market.
What also made the buying and selling time even more exciting was the fact that even the so called small and not all that rich clubs were very active on a platform that had become the preserve of FC Platinum, Ngezi Platinum Stars and Chicken Inn.
In fact, the so called rich teams lost players to the likes of Bulawayo Chiefs, ZPC Kariba, Harare City, and Manica Diamonds, with FC Platinum and Triangle the biggest losers while Manica Diamonds were the biggest beneficiaries.
Platinum kissed goodbye to the likes of Rodwell Chinyengetere, Donald Dzvinyai, Stanley Ngala, Kelvin Madzongwe, Petros Mhari, and Ralph Kawondera, who were pivotal in the three league titles they won in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The departure of Taurai Mangwiro at Triangle also coincided with the departure of players like Timothy January, Brian Chikwenya, Donald Mudadi, Collins Dhuwa, Delick Mukumba, and Brighton Chayambuka who left for new employers.
This gave new Triangle coach Jairos Tapera a huge task of trying to build a completely new team to compete when there were little financial resources to spend on the transfer market.
Apart from Dynamos, the other big clubs, Caps United and Highlanders have not been very active with Bosso’s notable catch being Stanley Ngala who joins them from FC Platinum while the Green Machine took Rodwell Chinyengetere also from Kugona Kunenge Kudada.
Dynamos on their part have reunited with Katema, while in Zimbabwe they have recruited Ralph Kawondera, and Isaac Sadiki, on top of Jesi who is coming from Sudan.
With leaders Manica Diamonds having brought in five new players including the combative Liberty Chakoroma from Chicken Inn, and Bulawayo Chiefs, Harare City, Herentals, ZPC Kariba, and even Black Rhinos, having had their share of stars from the market, Zimbabwean football — this year — promises an exciting show.
Surely, the clubs are ready and the players are ready and what is required is for the Sports and Recreation Commission and Zifa to ensure that their squabbles do not affect the smooth running of the PSL show.
The fans do not care who is running their football, what is important to them is what happens on the field of play – So let them enjoy the football they pay to watch, without the distraction of off field power struggles.
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