Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

TelOne join topflight league

By Ricky Zililo

Former Chicken Inn and Tsholotsho striker Blessing Sibanda struck the priceless goal that fired TelOne into the Premiership, dislodging Tongogara from the top of the Central Soccer League on the last day of the season.

Joel Luphahla
Joel Luphahla

The two went into the final game tied on 41 points from 21 games, with Tongogara at the top of the table because of a superior goal difference.

TelOne won the championship in their second First Division season, a feat that the club’s management is still trying to come to terms with.

Not even the skirmishes that saw Tongogara fans reportedly running amok, assaulting TelOne supporters and baying for the match officials’ blood, could dampen the CSL champions’ celebratory spirits.

Former Highlanders and national team winger Joel Luphahla joined the elite group of coaches to have led a First Division team into the topflight league.

Luphahla, who made his break into the First Division last year at defunct Border Strikers, is delighted with guiding TelOne into the Premiership.

“It’s been a tough season and one thing that I’ve noticed is that playing and coaching are totally different. It’s easier when you play and someone is making decisions. Now that I’m coaching, I have to make decisions every day. At times right decisions and at times not. But I’m happy that as a club we made some right decisions before and during the season which saw us winning the championship. Despite being a 12-team league, competition was intense and all the teams really gave their best. There were no easy games,” said Luphahla.

“I’m happy that some of the boys in the team have realised their dream of winning a Premiership ticket. Even during a nervy game against Tongogara they kept their cool and got the result we wanted. This championship is true testimony to the amount of hard work we put in at the beginning of the season. I had stayed for three months without going home at the beginning of the year trying to get the players, the technical team and even the management to understand the philosophy I wanted,” he said.

Lloyd Mutetwa, a TelOne official who was involved with the day-to-day operations of the club during their campaign, said Luphahla and his charges “shocked” them with the championship.

“To be honest we were not even thinking about the championship; it came as a bonus and we are happy that brand TelOne is up there. Maybe playing without any form of pressure put Joe (Luphahla) and his team at ease,” said Mutetwa.

“The management will meet soon after it has really sunk in that we are in the Premiership to decide the way forward because winning the title was really a surprise. Congratulations to the technical team and the players,” he said.

TelOne are likely to keep their Gweru base and with Chapungu and Nichrut fighting for survival, the Midlands provincial capital is guaranteed of more topflight action next season. The Chronicle