By Langton Nyakwenda
While Dynamos and Highlanders were clinching a hefty deal with Sakunda Holdings on Tuesday night, the other member of the country’s “Big Three” football clubs, CAPS United, were in flames, with the team’s management making frantic efforts to douse a raging fire.
Despite the greenlight for football to resume having been granted more than a fortnight ago, CAPS United players only started full training on Thursday after the club settled arrears that had accumulated for two months.
The situation reached boiling point midweek when Makepekepe coach Darlington Dodo — who close sources say is not being given ample support by the club’s executive — almost quit.
Although the gaffer was not reachable on his mobile phone for the better part of last week, sources said he almost threw in the towel.
“The sad part is that Dodo is trying so much to make things work but his efforts are in vain because of some saboteurs from within and outside the club.
“It seems like the executive is setting him up to fail and there are also people from outside wishing he fails so that they can bring in their coaches,” sources said.
Before Thursday, only a handful of senior players were training.
Covid-19 tests for players were also done late due to financial constraints.
A number of senior players, some of whom are yet to get their signing-on fees, are disgruntled, with some now pushing for an exit.
“We only started proper training after the club paid us the salary arrears. Everything is slowly getting back to normal but some of us are still owed signing-on fees.
“The club has promised to solve the issue and we will see how it goes,” said one player.
CAPS United vice president Nhamo Tutisani declined to comment, referring all questions to club president Farai Jere, who, however, was not reachable despite repeated efforts to contact him.
“I have been running around with some other issues, so on that matter I would advise you to talk to club president Farai Jere,” Tutisani said.
Away from their crisis, CAPS United could cash in on the sale of gifted winger Leeroy Mavhunga, who is set for a trial stint with Turkish First League side Ankara Kecioreguncu.
Travel arrangements for the player are currently being sorted.
The pacey forward has just returned from an injury that kept him out of action in the first round of the Chibuku Super Cup.
CAPS United are set to resume competitive action when the Chibuku Super Cup returns on September 29, almost three months after it was halted at the height of Covid-19 infections.
The Premier Soccer League championship race is then expected to commence on October 30.
Clubs have now intensified training.
Highlanders were almost in a similar situation as CAPS United before Sakunda Holdings gave the Bulawayo giants a US$890 000 per season lifeline.
A similar package was also extended to Dynamos.
Bosso coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu is a relieved man.
“We didn’t resume as early as we wanted just because we have had three months’ backlog in terms of salaries, so we started on Tuesday.
“We will try to squeeze within these two weeks so that when we play our first game, we are much better in terms of match fitness.
“We are very much motivated now after this sponsorship deal and we are back to business to ensure that we work hard and give them (Sakunda Holdings) as much mileage by posting positive results.
“I think this is the time to do better; my boys will make sure we work around the clock,” said Mpofu.
Black Rhinos coach Herbert Maruva is also excited the PSL race will be back after a long layoff.
The 2020 season was affected by the coronavirus.
“We are ready for the return.
“However, it’s going to be difficult for players to adjust for training since we don’t have enough time to prepare them, especially for game situations.
“Yes, we gave them training programmes but it’s different from game situations. Obviously, there are minor injuries to worry about that have been caused by the long layoff.
“But, the players are eager to play. Mentally, we also need to work with the players, it’s not easy for them to shift back to football after spending more time on the sidelines,” he said.
Last week, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry gave the strongest hint yet that vaccinated fans could probably be allowed into stadiums when the PSL kicks off.
“The ministry will be fully supportive of the idea of allowing fans to come into stadiums and support their teams and other sports fraternities if they are fully vaccinated. We will fully support that,” Coventry told guests during the launch of the Sakunda sponsorship deal on Tuesday night.
The Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association (ZNSSA) has already begun mobilising football fans to get vaccinated.
“As ZNSSA, we are calling upon our members in particular and the generality of soccer-loving Zimbabweans to go and get vaccinated against coronavirus,” said Joseph Mutawu, ZNSSA secretary-general.
“There is a move underway by the Government to allow soccer fans into stadiums once again. So it is incumbent upon us soccer supporters to lead by example and get vaccinated.
“This will help our policymakers make easy decisions. Therefore, as supporters, let’s avoid hassles and disappointments by getting vaccinated,” he said. The Sunday Mail