DeMbare fire female medic
By Robson Sharuko and Mtulisi Mafa
STRUGGLING Premiership giants Dynamos on Tuesday evening axed their physiotherapist — Abigail Munikwa — after the club’s leadership finally succumbed to pressure from a hardline superstitious clique, among their fans, who held her responsible for the team’s sudden loss of form.
The 32-year-old Munikwa, a professional physiotherapist, was made the sacrificial lamb of the club’s pathetic run in recent weeks — which has seen them lose pole position in the Premiership race — and was ordered to leave her post.
A meeting between the club’s leadership and representatives of their fans in Harare on Monday resolved that Munikwa’s services be terminated immediately because her presence on the bench had a direct bearing on the poor run of form.
Dynamos, who trail leaders Gunners by two points going into today’s matches, have always been a club built on a foundation of superstition and a section of their fans believe Munikwa’s presence on the bench was affecting the club’s magical powers.
They believe such magical powers do not work if a woman is involved.
Ironically, Dynamos’ last two league defeats at Rufaro — against Monomotapa and Lengthens — have come against teams that have women as their physiotherapists.
DeMbare face Hwange in a crucial league match at Rufaro this afternoon while leaders Gunners — with the destiny of the championship in their hands — have a tricky date against Shooting Stars at Gwanzura today.
Such is the deep-rooted belief in superstition at the Harare giants that Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya was asked not to enter the field of play at Rufaro last year when the Harare giants hosted Zamalek in a Champions League match.
DeMbare struck late in that game with David Shoko firing an unstoppable free-kick to win the match 1-0 and qualify for the semi-finals.
Reports last night said there could be changes in the Dynamos technical team today, although head coach Elvis Chiweshe was assured of his position, following the meeting between the leadership and the fans.
Earlier reports had suggested that assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya had also been swept by the winds of change, which brought back long-serving physiotherapist Killian Kadye, on the bench.
Last night, Munikwa related her story.
“I went to the Holiday Inn, hoping to check into camp, as is usually the case the day before the match, but I was then advised that I should speak to (Nyika) Chifamba (welfare manager),” said Munikwa.
“He told me that I wasn’t supposed to check in because the executive had decided to terminate my services and the chairman was supposed to have advised me of that.
“Apparently there was a meeting between the supporters and the chairman and I was told it was agreed there that I was responsible for the team’s poor run of form.
“It was embarrassing, being told at the hotel that your services were no longer required, and I felt betrayed and abused and I am definitely going to take legal action against Dynamos so that they give me what belongs to me.”
Munikwa said she was given a draft contract, for three years, which she had not yet signed and would demand every cent from that contract.
“I have been trying to talk to the chairman but without success and all that I want is for my reputation, as a professional physiotherapist, to be protected,” said Munikwa.
“I wasn’t picked from the streets and it was Dynamos who came looking for me because I am a professional person and I wanted to play my part there just the way I have worked with the national rugby Under-19 side, Old Hararians and the Sports Commission.
“It’s not that I didn’t want to leave Dynamos, but what really hurt me was the way I was treated . . . being told just before I checked into the hotel that I had to go back home, that is very humiliating.”
The Harare giants’ life has been scripted into a horror type of existence in the last weeks, with their 2-0 defeat to Lengthens complicating what appeared to be a fine season of harmony.
While Dynamos are desperately looking for answers for their current crisis, their rivals are making a lot of fun of them and Hwange have just sharpened their spear by saying their rivals have lost their way.
Hwange coach Nation Dube said yesterday that the Harare giants’ confidence reserves are running low and tipped Gunners to win the race for the league title.
“Dynamos have clearly lost confidence and they don’t have a recognisable first team because it’s always changing and they are just gambling with players.
“Their results in their previous games say it all. They had all the advantage, but they are now looking at Gunners and hoping they slip up.
“Gunners have been doing very well and they came from nowhere as dark horses and they are now on top.
“Right now, I’m sure Moses Chunga is just encouraging his boys to stay focused and enjoy playing their game and he realises what they are just about to achieve.”
But Ndiraya remained in an optimistic mood yesterday and believes the difficult phase is now behind them and expects his players to fight like tigers.
“I strongly believe we have picked up ourselves and I wish you had been there at training this week and would have seen that the boys realise what they have done and the position they have put themselves in.
“They are very eager to make amends and they just can’t wait to get back on the field. We have been playing some good football, but we have let ourselves down with our finishing and hopefully we can get it right tomorrow (today).
“But like I have always said, we need our fans to give the players positive support because when they boo the players, they are putting them under pressure and it’s an advantage to the opposition players.
“What has happened in our past games, especially against Lengthens, was very sad and imagine what goes through the players’ minds before such crucial games.
“Some of the players are not used to this because they are young and we need our fans to understand that. We are in this together, it’s not about Elvis, myself, or the executive, but it’s about all of us and if we can all pull in one direction, we will be able to achieve our goal.”
Gunners have a difficult game against the Wild Boys across town, but with Shooting Stars’ confidence deflated by that heartbreaking loss to Lengthens — in a BancABC Sup8r Cup they dominated — it’s a difficult task for Lloyd Mutasa and his boys.
Dynamos desperately want Mutasa — a star player in their ranks during the ‘90s — to do them a huge favour by winning this game.
The DeMbare fans will probably be saying that Mutasa and his Wild Boys owe them a favour, after they backed them in the Sup8r Cup final, and a win over Gunners could just do the trick.
But Chunga and his men have been a ruthlessly efficient side — especially at Gwanzura — and they have a number of players who can inflict serious punishment on the Wild Boys.
Norman Maroto gets a chance to close the gap on runaway leader Nyasha Mushekwi in the battle for the Golden Boot while Ramson Zhuwawo has been impressive in midfield all season.
But it is the havoc being created down the wings by the returning Tapuwa Mangezi — a player Chunga rates highly — and Ali Sadiki that is causing problems for opponents.
The funny part about a decisive afternoon in the race for the Premiership title is the big hand that will be played by three coaches — with Dynamos connections — this afternoon.
Chiweshe at the Glamour Boys, Chunga at Gunners and Mutasa at the Wild Boys.
Maybe with so many former sons involved in the game, the Glamour Boys don’t need Munikwa anyway.
Latest Premiership Standings
P W D L F A Pts
Gunners 25 14 7 4 39 21 49
Dynamos 25 14 5 6 36 15 47
CAPS United 25 11 9 5 33 22 42
Lengthens 26 11 8 7 25 18 41
Hwange 25 10 7 8 29 26 37
Highlanders 25 9 9 7 23 18 36
Shooting Stars 25 8 11 6 26 22 35
Eagles 26 7 13 6 20 24 34
Kiglon 26 8 9 9 29 27 33
Monomotapa 25 8 8 9 32 34 32
Bantu Rovers 26 7 8 11 22 26 29
Motor Action 26 4 15 7 20 25 27
Highway 25 6 9 10 23 29 27
Njube Sundowns 25 6 8 11 26 37 26
Underhill 26 6 7 13 22 38 25
Black Rhinos 25 4 7 14 16 39 19
l As it stands now, Gunners and Dynamos are in Champions League positions given that Zimbabwe have two slots in the competition from next year. CAPS United have moved into a place that gives them a ticket into the Confederations Cup.