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Kariba celebrates PSL status in style

“Bosso, DeMbare here we come, and CAPS United beware, if they beat us we will switch off electricity.”

By Albert Marufu recently in kariba

These were the bold messages on the placards waved from side to side at a packed “match box” Chaminuka Stadium on Saturday when the home team ZPC Kariba FC beat Twalumba FC, 3-1.

The win ensured a Premier Soccer League (PSL) berth for the first time in the history of the town last weekend, sparking wild scenes of jubilation in the resort soon after referee Norman Matemera blew the final whistle.

The small town — known for housing the country’s only hydroelectric power station at Lake Kariba, its picturesque scenery and sweltering temperatures that sometimes lead residents into sleeping on verandas despite the threat from wildlife roaming from the nearby Matusadona National Park had sprung into life.

Blue was the colour in town and in the stadium. It did not matter whether it had a Dynamos FC or English premiership side, Chelsea FC’s logo. To the fans it symbolised their loyalty to their team, ZPC Kariba FC who also uses blue and white colours.

Few could begrudge the fans as they were looking forward to watching Premiership action right in their backyard almost fortnightly.

The only time people in Kariba tasted premiership football was last year when Mbada Diamonds took the first round clash pitting FC Platinum and Harare City to the resort town.

Though the fans packed Nyamhunga Stadium on that day, they could not identify with the teams, save for local boy Daniel Veremu, who was in FC Platinum colours.

Their long held dream finally became a reality and the chorus “Tapinda tapinda” became the signature tune in most drinking spots in Nyamhunga, Mahombekombe, Shabanie and Heights last week.

“We have waited for this for a long time,” said one modestly dressed lady who was holding a banner that boldly carried the message; “Shabanie (a residential area also in Kariba) thanks you Jostein Mathuthu.”

“Gwenya reChamhembe,” as the team is affectionately known, becomes the first team from Kariba and the fourth from Mashonaland West after Mhangura, Eiffel Wild Cats and Rio Tinto to play in the top flight league.

The coach Jostein Mathuthu, immaculately dressed in a grey suit admitted that it was not an easy road. “It has not been easy, but I am a firm believer in professionalism. If you are a professional, players will give all their best for you,” said the coach who joined the team at the beginning of the season on a season’s contract.

Mathuthu recruited former PSL stars Tineyi Chitora, veteran goalkeeper Lovemore Makwavarara, Stephen Matsangaise and Raphael Manuvire with Charles Chiutsa and Pride Tafirenyika joining in the second half of the season to strengthen his side.

Manuvire, scorer of a brace in the deciding game against Twalumba, found the target 17 times (before yesterday’s games), two goals shy of the league’s top scorer McDonald Motsi of Gunners FC.

Chitora, who deserted giants Dynamos to join the Division One side at the start of last season, is the club’s second top scorer with 14 goals while captain Matsangaise shone like a beacon in the heart of defence.

“I am glad we won the championship which is my fourth in Division One. I hope the team will do well in the top flight,” said goalkeeper Makwavarara who has seen action at the top with Highlanders, Mwana Africa and the now defunct Lengthens and Sporting Lions.

However, while fans are still celebrating, real work has begun for ZESA Holdings, the bankrollers of the team.

The team started as a social outfit in 1955 under the then Central African Power Corporation (CAPCO) and in 1987 when Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority was born, it assumed the name ZESA Kariba FC and booked a place in Division Three.

Following the restructuring of ZESA into ZESA Holdings and its subsidiary companies, ZESA Kariba FC assumed the name Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) Kariba FC.
The team was promoted to Division One in 2004 but got demoted to Division Two in 2005 before further going down in 2006.

In 2007 the team got promoted to Division Two which was their home until 2009 before being promoted to the first division in 2010. In 2011, under the guidance of Partson Ndabambi, the team finished seventh before Paul Chimalizeni helped them to a third position in 2012.

This year becomes their year and the placard, “Thank you Mathuthu,” sums up the general feeling in the resort town.

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