World Cup and Kaka
This year will always remain in the minds of many a supporter for this is the year that Africa, through South Africa, hosted the Soccer World Cup for the first time in the history of the tournament.
Zimbabweans did not miss out on the excitement as the mighty Brazilians, on their way to South Africa passed through these shores to play a friendly match against the Warriors.
Who can forget the euphoria that gripped the nation when the Kaka and Robinho bandwagon roared into town?
Though Zimbabwe finished the match on the losing side, local fans had the opportunity of seeing their heroes Kaka and Robinho in action on our local turf.
It was not surprising that local fans – for long subjected to dismal performance by the Warriors – packed themselves like sardines to watch the game that was beamed live across the globe.
Dynamos in group stages
This is also the same year that Zimbabwean champions Dynamos reached the group phase of the Orange Champions League where they lost to eventual winners TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Esperance of Tunisia, and Algeria’s Entente Setif. Their only win came at home against the Algerians.
Bulls on the rampage
The same year also saw Motor Action FC following into the footsteps of Monomotapa and Gunners in breaking the hegemonic hold of the championship of Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United.
Motor Action’s win cemented the continued dominance of the so called minnows of local football after Monomotapa and Gunners’ triumph in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
However, this is the year that local soccer graced the attention of international media for wrong reasons after the Warriors were embroiled in a match fixing scandal after visiting the far East for friendly matches.
The scandal – which became known as Asiagate – claimed its scalp in Henerieta Rushwaya who ended up losing her job as the Zimbabwe Football Association chief executive officer with Warriors players such as Nyasha Mushekwi and Method Mwanjali admitting to have taken bribes to throw away matches.
The sport of rugby also made great strides posting some impressive results on the international circuit with the Under-19 squad beating Namibia 29-15 in Ivory Coast to lift the Africa Cup.
Young Sables qualify for world champs
The win saw the Young Sables qualifying for next year’s International Rugby Board (IRB) Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT) to seal the country’s continued improvement in the Age Group category.
The national Sevens side – the Cheetahs – beat Zambia 19-12 to equal Mpumalanga’s four titles in a row. The Liam Middleton coached side also ended the year on a high note beating core side Kenya to lift the Shield medal at the IRB 2010/11 George Sevens series in South Africa.
In the first leg of the Series, the Cheetahs had done well but saw their hopes of a medal in smoke after losing to Argentina in the Bowls final.
However, all was not well for the Sables –the country’s flagship – who continued to stutter in international competitions.
The Brandon Dawson coached side lost 23-18 to Kenya to lose the inaugural Victoria Cup that also involved Uganda at Harare Sports Club.
They, however, did well in the Africa Cup where they reached the Semi-finals following victories over Botswana and Madagascar in Pool C.
Their victories came to nought as Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) cancelled the tournament at the semi-final stage as none of the four remaining countries – Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Madagascar and Morocco – could host the event.
Cricket move up
Cricket also ascertained itself as one of the most growing sports in the country after years of turbulence due to the political and economic hardships that has rocked the country since 2000.
Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) managed to revive the domestic league and also hosted the Stanbic Bank 20series that drew world beaters such as Brian Lara. South Africans Allan Donald and Gillespie also got coaching jobs on the domestic scene
The year also saw ZC signing a three year US$1million Reebok sponsorship that would see national teams and the domestic league benefiting.
The national woman cricket side together with neighbours South Africa qualified for the International Cricket women’s World Cup final qualifiers to be held in Bangladesh in November. The finals are set for Sri Lanka in 2010.
Zimbabawe’s own cricketing hero, Grant Flower, also returned to the fold to play for his country and has since been roped into the coaching structures.
Long distant runner Steven Muzhingi raised the country’s flag high in athletics winning retaining the Comrades Marathon in South Africa while Tennis Zimbabwe managed to host the Africa Junior Championships Zonal qualifiers. The association also managed to send a team to Morocco for Davis Cup where they finished seventh.
However, the continued Zimbabwe’s absence from Fed Cup is a cause for concern.
Basketball made impact
In basketball JBC managed to participate in the Zone Six Africa Club Championships held in Mozambique finish finishing on position four. However, the Harare Basketball association has been blighted by problems that led to the league failing to restart in September as is the tradition.
Zim Open back
Professional golf welcomed the return of the Zimbabwe Open after a 10-year hiatus due to the economic meltdown. The tournament was held at Royal Harare Golf Club and attracted the big names in pro golf.