By Robson Sharuko
HARARE giants Dynamos and CAPS United have been invited to add a foreign flavour, to a high-profile four-team football tournament in South Africa next month, that will also feature Super Diski clubs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Black Leopards.
The Glamour Boys and the Green Machine, bitter rivals on the domestic front, are set to make guest appearances at the four-team Limpopo Invitational tournament in Polokwane on January 28 and 29.
The tournament is being bankrolled by Mamelodi Sundowns, the richest football club in South Africa, who have also charmed a lot of Zimbabwean hearts by giving a home to a number of football stars from this country desperate for a break into the big-money professional ranks.
Sundowns are home to Zimbabwean internationals – Method Mwanjali, Nyasha Mushekwi, Lionel Mtizwa, Esrom Nyandoro and highly-rated young striker Simba Sithole, who was signed by the Pretoria club earlier this year.
Zimbabwean coach Ian Gorowa was in charge of Sundowns, for much of the second half of last season in a caretaker role, and is now working as the club’s chief scout.
The Brazilians also lead the race for the South African championship, which took a lengthy break just before Christmas, and will only resume in February after the 2012 Nations Cup finals is over.
The 2011/2012 Absa Premiership season was designed with Bafana Bafana’s expected campaign at the 2012 Nations Cup finals in mind but Pitso Mosimane and his boys failed to make the showcase after coming short in humiliating fashion.
A number of South African clubs have organised friendly matches and tournaments, during the lengthy break, to try and keep their players in shape and Kaizer Chiefs will play a high-profile friendly against Ghana’s Black Stars while Orlando Pirates are expected to tour Tanzania.
Sundowns have a close relationship with CAPS United, cultivated over the period where the Super Diski giants have been acquiring players from the Green Machine, and the Harare club quickly came into the frame for the Limpopo tournament.
Dynamos’ stock has risen significantly since the Glamour Boys completed a league and cup double in the past season, bravely wiping out a 12-point deficit late in the campaign, and their brand is very attractive to organisers of international tournaments in the region.
Both Dynamos and CAPS United have big following in South Africa, where the biggest chunk of Zimbabwe’s migrant community is based, and Polokwane has turned into a second home for many people from Harare who are now working in the Rainbow Nation.
DeMbare chairman, Kenny Mubaiwa, confirmed yesterday that they were in receipt of an invitation for his club to play in the four-team tournament and said negotiations were still going ahead.
“We can confirm that we have been invited to play in the tournament in South Africa but there are a number of issues that we are still discussing with the organisers,” said Mubaiwa.
“Given that there are huge costs involved in sending our team there, we are liaising with the organisers to establish what they will cover and what we need to cover. Transport, accommodation and food costs need to be taken into account and then you also have fees given to the players and their technical team.
“We need to establish if there is an appearance fee for the teams, for the players, a prize money for the tournament and all the details related to such a tournament.
“It’s a very welcome development but the negotiations are still going on and we will see how they come out.”
The Glamour Boys are likely to benefit the most, from the tournament, given that it’s likely to be their only competitive outing, featuring foreign opposition, before they plunge into the Champions League.
While Dynamos have done remarkably well in the Champions League, analysts believe that the true potential of this club, including a capacity to win the tournament, is not being realised because of perennial poor preparations leading to their campaign on the continent.
Although the Glamour Boys have been a success story in the tournament, including reaching the final and the semi-finals, critics claim they could have gone all the way and be crowned kings of club football on the continent if they approached their preparations with a business policy.
Dynamos have not played South African club opposition since taking part in the Vodacom Challenge tournament at the turn of the millennium.
CAPS United have fresh memories of battles against South African opposition after they knocked out Moroka Swallows from the Caf Confederation Cup last year.
Club vice-president, Farai Jere, confirmed to The Herald that they had also received an invitation from their South African counterparts to take part in the Limpopo tournament.
“As CAPS United we believe this is a very good tournament for us because we have brought in quite a number of players and our coach will get a good stage for assessing them, in terms of where they can best serve the club, in a very competitive environment,” said Jere.
“We have always had this special relationship with Sundowns and this tournament is all part of the partnerships we are building, which can be mutually beneficial for both clubs.
“We finished the season stronger, after starting with a bang and losing our way midway through the campaign, and we are determined to compete aggressively and try and win titles next season and any opportunity that comes along, which can help us in our team building, will be accepted with both hands.
“Just like in the past few seasons, our vision for the club hasn’t changed and we have to try and win the league championship because that is the title that matters the most and, while we know it won’t be easy, we are determined to do it.”
Jere said playing in the Limpopo tournament with Dynamos would be special.
“Dynamos are our biggest rivals and you can imagine a final of that tournament featuring CAPS United and DeMbare, the Harare Derby being played in Polokwane, it will be absolutely fantastic,” said Jere.
“We both have a duty to represent our league very well at that tournament and show our brothers and sisters in South Africa that while we might not have the big sponsorship packages that they have, we have the talent and we can play good football.”