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ZPC Kariba out to emulate Black Rhinos

Since 1980, only one team in Zimbabwean football history has managed to come straight from Division One and win the Premier Soccer League championship.

By Michael Kariati

That team was Zimbabwe National Army’s collection of stars called Black Rhinos Football Club which won the Northern Region Division One championship in 1984 before going on to win the then Super League championship in their first year of top flight football a year later.

The other team that came close to doing that was Harare City, who unfortunately faltered on the last day after an agonising draw against CAPS United pushed them into third place behind eventual winners Dynamos and second-placed Highlanders.

Harare City finished on 54 points, the same as Dynamos and Highlanders, but lost out on goal difference.

A year after Harare City nearly did it, and 29 years after that famous Black Rhinos act, a team called ZPC Kariba has shown promise that the Black Rhinos achievement can be repeated.

A fast and high tempo side with excellent team work and brilliant individuals, ZPC Kariba are a formidable and disciplined side with sound sponsorship.

With five matches remaining before the curtain comes down on the soccer season, the minnows are only two points behind leaders Dynamos with a home game against the defending champions still to come.

Coach Saul Chaminuka contends that his team are not out for the league title but to finish in the top four. He possibly wants to lead his opponents astray while he remains focused on his goal.
The Zesa sponsored team is also hoping to become the fourth modest side alongside the likes of Monomotapa in 2008, Gunners in 2009, and Motor Action in 2010 to win the league title.

Already, Chaminuka’s team has thrown up some surprises, proving that they cannot be taken for granted. Apart from that famous 1-0 win over DeMbare, ZPC have had the temerity to go for the entire duration of the first half of the season unbeaten after going for 19 games without a defeat.

Those who doubted their pedigree were made to think again after the modest Zesa sponsored team overcame Highlanders 3-1 in it’s famed hunting ground — Hartsfield.

It can be argued that ZPC Kariba do not have the prodigious Black Rhinos talents of the likes of the late great Stanley Ndunduma, Stanford Stix Mtizwa, Gift Makoni, Maronga Nyangela, Jerry Chidawa, Japhet Mparutsa, William Chikauro, and David Mukahanana who formed that great Chipembere side.

But there is some similarity with Rhinos in the manner in which the ZPC juggernaut has also been assembled. Just like Rhinos who were made up of players recruited from CAPS United, Dynamos and other teams, the core of the ZPC team has also been drawn from various teams in the Premiership.

More importantly is the fact that Chaminuka has placed more emphasis, not on skill, but on hard work and experience. That is the reason why he recruited Pride Tafirenyika and Limited Chikafa who have played for a number of clubs in the Premiership, including CAPS United.

There is also David Radiyoni, formerly of Monomotapa and later CAPS United as well as Tawanda Nyamandwe and Artwell Nyamihwa, proven goal scorers at all the clubs they have played for.

He has also called former national team trialist Elvis Meleka from Botswana’s Mochudi Centre Chiefs to add steel to the midfield as the season reaches its decisive stages. Meleka was voted the 2013 Botswana Premiership’s Player of the Year.

Just like Rhinos, ZPC Kariba are also being well looked after by their sponsors. The team is one of the very few clubs that can afford to be accommodated in three star hotels before their games, as evidenced by their stay at a Harare hotel before and after their 1-0 win over Triangle.

But if ZPC Kariba are to win the league title, and emulate Black Rhinos, then they will have to beat Dynamos themselves in the penultimate match of the season.

To their credit, they will go into the match against Dynamos full of confidence. Not just thanks to their previous 1-0 win but also because as underdogs, they have nothing to lose.

In fact, the ZPC Kariba will have to do it the hard way as they also have FC Platinum and CAPS United also queuing in their remaining fixtures.

However, Shepherd Mandizvidza, a Zesa public relations executive, is a strong believer in ZPC Kariba saying they will wrap up the championship when they play Dynamos. “The players are up to the challenge. They did it at the start of the season and they can do it again,” says Mandizvidza.

Mandizvidza says ZPC Kariba have played all the top teams in the past and have shown their mettle, adding that there is no reason why they cannot beat Dynamos, FC Platinum and CAPS United.

ZPC Kariba were expected in their first year of top flight football to be on a learning curve, but they have captured the imagination. What is now left is for them to have something to show for what has been a memorable season — the Black Rhinos record.

Should they fail to win the league title but still beat Dynamos home and away, they will still be remembered for that because they will be the only team in the Premiership to have managed to do that.

3 Responses to ZPC Kariba out to emulate Black Rhinos

  1. D.Mazodza October 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    I know Saul Chaminuka from his hay days as a player at Blackpool . He played alongside others players like Masimba Dinyero. He is one guy who hardly was given chance to play in the National Team, not because he was not capable but maybe because there was a lot of competition from other players.Whatever the reasons, the import of my message is that in life just like at workplaces there are situations when a team leader can not tell identify strengths in his subordinates. There are times when a leader decides to surround himself with his bootlickers or praise singers at the expense of the organization. This is the challenge we have in leaders of today.They do not think of the success of the organization they lead, rather they focus on self dealing even in appointment of team members. Such an organization does not get anywhere.

    I guess this is also happening in our beautiful game of soccer. Capable people are left out at expense of those who are close to the leader even if they can not deliver.I will not be surprised if ZPC wins the championship simply because the team has good leadership right from the Coach and sponsors.Its all to do with leadership.Good leaders will take their teams to great heights.

    As i make this contribution, in Zimbabwe today more and more organizations are collapsing , not because of viability problems, but purely because of dearth of sound leadership.There are great challenges in the recruitment and selection processes in most companies.How many times does an incapable person get a job ahead of the capable one. This leads to resignations and frustrations of those who know what they are doing. The net effect is poor performance of the organization.

    For authorities at ZPC,I say Bravo to you.This is what we call leadership.Leadership is all about results period.Do not let go of Saul Chaminuka. He has shown his mettle. Thank you for believing in upliftment of players’ welfare. I believe even the big parastatal is also well managed.

    Once again i say thank you, the Championship is yours.

  2. Shittu October 20, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Reporter akadhakwa uyu thats why we are lagging behind because of sportswriters vanogara vakadhakwa ne Zed.David Redhiyoni and Tawanda Nyamandwe have not been playing regulary
    and Artwell Nyamiwa joined Triangle in January.Please give credit where it is due.

  3. Dr Gongomwanawechirombo October 26, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    The so-called reporter going by the name Michael Kariati must get his facts rights.Black Rhinos won the League title in 1984 halting a 3 year consecutive run by Dynamos of winning the league from 1980 to 1983.However Dynamos went on to win the league in 1985&1986 .Rhinos however went on to win the league in 1987.ZPC Kariba stands no chance what so ever coz mighty Dynamos FC are going to be crowned Champions for a record 21st time.

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