HomeOpinion & AnalysisAn exciting soccer season, but . . .

An exciting soccer season, but . . .

The 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season has come and gone and what a year it was for Zimbabwean football followers.

Inside Sport by Michael Kariati

It was one of the most exciting soccer seasons which guaranteed top-class football even on the last day of play when the champions had been crowned a week earlier.

What, however, is disturbing is the fact that while clubs are doing their best to improve the standards on the field of play, nothing is being done by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) leadership to complement their efforts.

Five years after the Twine Phiri board was elected into office, the PSL has had the same old sponsors, Delta Beverages and NetOne as the only major players.

It would have been expected that by now, the PSL would have attracted more sponsors, and not necessarily for knockout tournaments but in other forms.

One typical example is Nyaradzo Funeral Services. The company came on board and donated minibuses to PSL clubs through the efforts of Dynamos secretary general Webster Chikengezha.

Instead of taking advantage of the situation by negotiating for a favourable funeral cover charge for PSL players, those at the PSL allowed the opportunity to slip through their fingers.

If that initiative had been taken advantage of, by now every player in the PSL and probably their families as well, would have been covered by Nyaradzo Funeral Services.

The question is : Did the PSL want Nyaradzo to come up with the idea and sell it to them.

This is just one example. How many other such easy-to-get sponsorships have passed through the hands of the PSL in the past five years without their worth being fully realised?

There is surely something wrong when one negotiates for a package that gives one winner $100 000 for playing 30 matches and then negotiates with the same sponsor for another competition that gives the winner $75 000 for playing only four games.

Mathematicians will tell you that the PSL champions deserved much more. But do they have anyone negotiating for them?

Keep the South African hawks away
It is heartening that Chicken Inn have had a change of heart and will represent Zimbabwe in the 2016 edition of the Confederation of African Football’s Champions League.

The only way that Zimbabwean football can judge itself on whether it is going up or down, is by competing with teams from other lands.

It would have been a blow for Zimbabwean football if it turned out there would be no representative in the CAF Champions League for two years in a row.

However, the past five years have not been milk and honey for Zimbabwean football as those who managed to represent the country in both the Champions League and the Confederation Cup failed to reach the mini league stage.

Even for Dynamos, it was a roller coaster ride as the 1998 CAF Champions League finalists struggled to impose their old influence.

The onus is now on the GameCocks to rekindle the old flame and take us back to the time Zimbabwe was a force to reckon with in this Pan African club football competition.

Dynamos reached the final in 1998 and the semi finals 10 years later, as well as the mini league stage on four occasions while Monomotapa also got to the mini league stage in 2010.

It would be unfair to expect Chicken Inn to reach the final of the competition, but their goal should be to at least get to the mini league stage.

Our Warriors have qualified for the Africa Nations Championships since the tournament was introduced in 2009 and that speaks a lot about the standards of our domestic game. That flame should be kept alive.

It is a fact that Chicken Inn are a solid, talented and compact outfit capable of challenging the best Africa has to offer. However, the question is on whether they will be able to keep the South African hawks away from their star players so that they take their 2015 Premiership squad into Africa.

Should they manage to do that, the GamCocks will be able to sustain a realistic challenge in Africa.

Parting shot
One man who deserves respect is former Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu.

Mafu was open and honest enough to say he would rather be an assistant coach at Tsholotsho Pirates than be out of employment.

Mafu said it did not matter whether he was the head coach or the assistant as his family depended on his job. What to him is important is to be employed and being able to put food on his family’s table.

Hats off to Mafu. He is the mark of a real man. Others are too proud to reach such decisions and as a result, they are roaming the streets, with nothing to do and nothing to survive on — except moving from one office to the other begging.

For views, comments and suggestions email mkariati@gmail.com or WhatsApp on 077 3 266 779

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