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A tale of two unheralded coaches

By Robson Sharuko

A decade that catapulted Callisto Pasuwa from the shadows of backroom football politics, to the limelight of the 2017 AFCON finals, could come to a fitting close by producing the domestic Premiership’s unlikeliest champion coach.

CAPS United coach Darlington Dodo
CAPS United coach Darlington Dodo

Darlington Dodo or Lizwe Sweswe?

Men plucked from obscurity by Lloyd Chitembwe and Norman Mapeza, to give the only two coaches to have won the league championship in the last three years, a helping hand in this brutal field where one is only as good as his last result.

No one could have guessed, earlier this year, that Dodo and Lizwe will today be the main actors in this engrossing soap, standing on the threshold of glory, about to inscribe their names among those who have won the Premiership trophy before.

Supermen like Sunday Chidzambwa, who won it seven times in a career that provided a benchmark for greatness when it comes to coaching on these local fields, before his divorce with Dynamos exactly 20 years ago, ended his title-winning spree.

Fine men like Pasuwa, who won it four times on the trot between 2011 and 2014, before an ugly divorce with these Glamour Boys ended their stranglehold on the trophy and, since then, they have been waiting for the rains that don’t seem to come.

Exceptional men like Mapeza, who won it three times, transforming modest Monomotapa into champions, back in the days when such clubs were not expected to reach those heights.

And, then, ending the myth, which had been sustained for half-a-century, that clubs from outside Harare and Bulawayo could not become kings of domestic football by guiding FC Platinum to back-to-back wins.

Outstanding men, like the revolutionary Charles Mhlauri, who showed science can also triumph, back in the days when many believed juju was the main catalyst for success, with his tactics overwhelming the opposition.

Under his guidance, CAPS United powered to back-to-back success stories in the championship race.

Chitembwe led the Green Machine to the league title three years ago, cementing his place as the club’s most decorated man, after also winning the championship as a player in 1996 and 2004 and 2005.

But, never before, in the history of the domestic championship, has a race for the ultimate prize featured coaches who, just a few months ago, were living in the shadows of their bosses.

Chitembwe and Mapeza were calling the shots at CAPS United and FC Platinum as recent as August and back then.

When Mapeza lifted the league championship with FC Platinum, two years ago, Dodo was overseeing the final kicks of Tsholotsho’s romance with the Premiership with a 0-1 defeat to Chicken Inn confirming the club’s relegation.

He joined Bulawayo City but just two months into the season, in May last year, he was given the boot and went to Swaziland before Chitembwe asked him to return home and be part of his backroom staff.

Little did he know that, with two games to go before the season ends, he will be the main man in charge of the Green Machine and with their fate in their hands.

A victory over Ngezi Platinum at Baobab today, coupled with FC Platinum failing to secure maximum points against Black Rhinos at Mandava, will see CAPS United winning the championship.

And, even if they were to lose today, and FC Platinum win, they will know victory on Super Sunday over the Zvishavane miners will still see them being champions.

The last time someone called Dodo had anything to do, with a league championship anywhere in the world, was five years ago when Brazilian defender, Dodo, declared he wanted to win the title with Italian giants Inter Milan.

His dreams didn’t come true and, after touching the heights of being linked with Manchester United 10 years ago, he is now back home in Brazil playing for Cruzeiro.

‘‘Winning the league is one of the best things that could happen to any coach and it’s my dream, too, that I win it with my club CAPS United this season,’’ he said.

There’s no questioning his ambition, his decision to travel with his team to Bulawayo for a date against Chicken Inn, just a day after burying his son who died in an accident, was hailed by the Green Machine fans as a reflection of his commitment to their cause.

Before Dodo arrived at Tsholotsho, the club was under the guidance of Sweswe who did a good job keeping them in the top-flight league before Mapeza invited him to join his backroom staff at FC Platinum.

After Mapeza left, in September, Sweswe was thrust into the hot seat and he has managed to keep his club in the championship race while taking them into the group stages of the Champions League.

The last time someone with the name Sweswe was involved in the domestic championship race was Thomas Sweswe during his time with Dynamos a decade ago.

The Zvishavane side crashed to a demoralising 0-3 Champions League defeat at the hands of Tunisian giants, Etoile du Sahel, on Saturday.

“We will have to work very hard to restore confidence in the team,’’ Sweswe said. ‘‘We have been losing in the CAF Champions League and we don’t have to let that trend to affect us.

We need to psyche up the players ahead of our league match against Black Rhinos on Wednesday.”

One of the two unheralded men will, stand tall while, in the week the world is mourning the death of ABBA lead singer, Marrie Fredriksson, who died on Monday at the ae of 61 after losing her battle with cancer, the loser will be standing small.

Her lyrics, in the hit song ‘‘The Winner Takes It All,’’ could be something either Dodo or Sweswe are saying right now:

‘’I’ve played all my cards
And that’s what you’ve done, too
Nothing more to say, no more ace to play

‘’The winner takes it all
The loser’s standing small
Beside the victory
That’s his destiny.’’

Pasuwa showed them the way, sight years ago, when he was ushered into the big time at Dynamos, to try and stabilise the club, and ended up winning four straight league titles.

Then, just like now, FC Platinum were also in the battle for the league title but ended up finishing second. The Herald