Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

A Silver Jubilee to forget… DeMbare barely recognisable as Digital’s team

By Robson Sharuko

It might not be a fatal blow, but Dynamos’ latest lifeless draw appears to suggest the Glamour Boys won’t celebrate the Silver Jubilee, of their maiden championship triumph in the era of the Premiership, with a league title this year.

A BYGONE ERA . . . Vitalis “Digital’’ Takawira (right) in the company of the late Dream Team manager Jimmy “Daddy’’ Finch (second from right) and late coach Reinhard Fabisch as fans mob them in Harare in 1993
A BYGONE ERA . . . Vitalis “Digital’’ Takawira (right) in the company of the late Dream Team manager Jimmy “Daddy’’ Finch (second from right) and late coach Reinhard Fabisch as fans mob them in Harare in 1993

An ugly salvage operation, something they have been doing very often this season, helped DeMbare pinch a point against a 10-man Yadah Stars, the league’s bottom team, at Rufaro on Wednesday.

It left their coach Tonderai Ndiraya frustrated, once again, just days after he had watched his men produce arguably their worst performance, since his return to take charge of the club, in a Chibuku Super Cup first round defeat to Highlanders.

The misfiring Glamour Boys sit right in the middle — just 10 points clear of the team occupying the final relegation slot and nine points adrift of the leaders — and that it’s their old city rivals, CAPS United, in the driving seat, amplifies the pain.

“I think we are losing concentration at the critical moments,’’ said Ndiraya. “On Sunday (against Highlanders) we conceded quite early in the game.

“I think, by the 10th minute we had conceded, and then today by the fifth minute we were a goal down.

“Once the game is in that mode, then you need some creative players, you need players who can move the ball around, clever players who can pass intelligent balls for you to penetrate such a well-organised defence like Yadah.’’

What Ndiraya didn’t explain, probably, was how the same Yadah Stars, with their “well-organised defence’’ have conceded 33 goals, the second highest in the league, with Bulawayo Chiefs (35 goals), having conceded more.

And, how Yadah Stars have lost 11 games, with only Chiefs (12) and Harare City (13), having lost more league games?

Maybe, Ndiraya should have been addressing his team’s impotence, which has seen them score just 22 goals all season, almost half the number which CAPS United have scored (40), in this league campaign?

A league campaign which has, so far, seen newboys Mushowani Stars (25 goals) score more than the Glamour Boys.

And, a league campaign which has, so far, seen the other newboys, Manica Diamonds (26 goals), score more goals than Ndiraya and his men?

This was supposed to be the season the Glamour Boys were celebrating the Silver Jubilee of their maiden triumph, in the rebranded Premiership, when Sunday Chidzambwa and his men powered their way to the championship in 1994. That season, DeMbare finished with 62 points, after winning 19 of their 30 league games, drawing five and losing six and they completed their campaign nine points clear of Highlanders.

Twenty five years, things could not have been more different for the Glamour Boys.

Before Tawanda Macheka scored at Rufaro on Wednesday, Dynamos had just scored 21 goals in 23 league matches this season — exactly the same number of goals which Vitalis “Digital’’ Takawira scored, on his own, in 1994, despite playing about half the season on the domestic front.

Remarkably, his goal tally was enough to win him the Golden Boot in the domestic Premiership that year, with Lloyd Mutasa and Hubert Munjanja finishing in second place with 19 goals.

The previous year, in ‘93, Takawira had also won the Golden Boot with 21 goals, one more than Jani Milanzi.

Takawira’s dribbling skills, and goal-scoring instincts, which in ‘94 had gone a notch higher, saw him attracting interest from two English sides, Southampton and Portsmouth, Swiss club FC Winterthur and Argentine team Platinense.

This meant he only featured for Dynamos for about half the season, that year.

But, he was still able to score 21 goals, the same number of goals the Class of 2019 had scored, as a team in 23 games, before Macheke scored at Rufaro on Wednesday.

“Players like the Digital were just from another world,’’ the country’s leading football commentator, Charles “CNN” Mabika, told The Herald.

“You are talking about a genuine star, one who could change games on his own, his dribbling skills were just outrageous and he backed that with goals too.

“You went to the stadium knowing something special would come from such players like Digital and, more often than not, they would deliver.

“DeMbare were lucky to have him as one of their own and he left a lot of great memories for their fans.’’ Takawira was still only 22, back in 1994, when his goals helped power the Glamour Boys to that league championship.

The vast difference, between then, and now, for DeMbare, could probably be highlighted by the events on Sunday at Rufaro, when the Glamour Boys fired blanks, in the Chibuku Super Cup defeat to Bosso, and what happened on September 24, 1994.

Back then, Takawira returned home from an abortive move to Argentine side Plantense and was thrown straight into battle by Chidzambwa in a league match against Eiffel Flats.

The striker responded with a four-goal haul as DeMbare ran out 5-0 winners.

Twenty five years have passed since those glory days when the Glamour Boys, powered by the likes of Takawira, would routinely destroy opposition like Eiffel Flats.

And, today, sadly, the country’s biggest, and most successful club, are terribly short of such talent and, since their last league championship success story five years ago, have been barely recognisable as the dominant giant that they once were. After their latest setback, in the draw against Yadah Stars, it’s now likely DeMbare will end a season, which they wanted to mark the Silver Jubilee of that success story back in 1994 in style, empty-handed.

While the barren nine-year spell, without a league championship, between 1998 and 2007, remains the longest the Glamour Boys have endured without being crowned champions, in their history, the signs right now don’t look encouraging.

Had DeMbare been fielding a team made up largely of emerging players, who are being nurtured into stars who could explode in a year or two, there would have been reason for their fans to be optimistic of the future.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

And, a quarter-of-a-century since they first tasted success, in the re-branded Premiership, there is very little to suggest someone as good as Vitalis “Digital’’ Takawira — their top-scorer that year despite playing just half the season — will emerge to fire them to greatness again. The Herald