By Ricky Zililo
Twitter Kings, as Castle Lager Premier Soccer League side Bulawayo Chiefs are affectionately known, will honour their outstanding players at a dinner at a local hotel this evening.
Chiefs miraculously survived relegation when they turned around their fortunes in the second half of the season following a poor start.
“Tomorrow evening is about celebrating the good work done by the players for making sure that Bulawayo Chiefs stay in the Premiership.
“It wasn’t an easy road but the boys really fought a good fight and tomorrow they are getting due recognition,” said Javas Sibanda, Bulawayo Chiefs’ communications officer.
The team opened its 2019 campaign with a heavy 0-5 defeat to Chapungu, forcing Chiefs director Lovemore Sibanda to recall coach Thulani Sibanda, who had quit the club two weeks before the start of the season after being demoted for Joseph Sibindi.
Chiefs went on to lose their next four games and only got their first point of the season on Matchday 6 when they drew 0-0 with Harare City. Their first victory of the season was on Matchday 8 when they claimed the scalp of Dynamos with a 2-0 win.
The first half of the season saw Chiefs only winning three games, against Dynamos at home, 2-1 away against Mushowani Stars and 1-0 against Manica Diamonds.
In total, they lost 11 matches, won three and drew three times in the first half of the season.
By mid-season, many had written Chiefs off, as they had collected a paltry 12 points.
Despite struggling on the pitch, with results not coming their way, Chiefs had a way of captivating the audience, especially on social media as they took Twitter by storm.
Their hilarious posts on Twitter where they took digs at opponents won them many followers and to date, they are the most followed PSL club with 26 400 followers.
Maybe their tweets motivated their “Ninjas” as the Chiefs’ Twitter administrator referred to the players.
By midseason, Chiefs received a good shot when Zifa granted coach Thulani a waiver to coach without a Caf A coaching badge. Thulani is a holder of a Scottish coaching badge and a sports science and coaching degree from Nust.
He then crafted Chiefs’ survival by adopting “pre-season training in mid-season”, which saw the team turning around its fortunes and picking up 29 points in the last half of the season.
They went on to win eight games, including famous victories over champions FC Platinum, league runners-up Chicken Inn and Highlanders. They only lost four games, compared to the 11 they suffered in the first half of the season.
Thulani attributed Chiefs’ dramatic turnaround in the late stages of the season to his application of sports science to enhance his side’s performance.
“If you look at the way we came out of relegation, I think it’s a question of good periodisation where people must take sports science seriously because nobody imagined Bulawayo Chiefs ever coming out of relegation.
“In terms of technique, we are not a team that is rich enough to attract the best technique in the country, even in terms of tactics you realise there are more senior coaches in the league who are more tactical than us. So I think our conditioning made the difference and we finished stronger than many other teams.
“We decided to do a pre-season inside the season and most people criticised it. I think Bulawayo Chiefs are a typical example of the reason people should embrace sports science in football and any other sport code,” said Thulani. The Chronicle