FC PLATINUM goalkeeper Petros Mhari could be paying a heavy price for snubbing a move to Harare giants Dynamos years ago, as mystery continues to surround his absence from the Warriors setup despite a remarkable domestic season.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Standardsport can reveal that Mhari has in the past snubbed overtures from Dynamos, not once but twice, in the last three years and in both instances DeMbare were under the guidance of current Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa.
The Harare giants first registered their interest in the talented shot-stopper in December 2012 as they sought to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2013 CAF Champions League campaign.
Dynamos were coming from a successful season in which they pipped their bitter rivals Highlanders to the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship due to a superior goal difference.
And DeMbare thought they had secured Mhari’s services with the then club secretary Ray Kazembe being quoted in the media saying they had secured his services from Hwange, only for the player to opt for a move to FC Platinum.
“We have signed Mhari to strengthen our last line of defence. We have given him a one-year contract because we know he is a good prospect and we want to keep him in the team even longer after this season,” Kazembe was quoted then by supersport.com.
Dynamos returned for Mhari at the end of the 2014 PSL season as a replacement for George Chigova, who had earlier that year left the Harare giants for SuperSport United in South Africa.
DeMbare, who had only been left with two goalkeepers, Artwell Mukandi and Tatenda Mukuruva, were confident of snapping the former Hwange goalkeeper, whose contract with the platinum miners had come to an end.
Mhari, however, yet again snubbed Dynamos as he extended his contract with FC Platinum, a decision which did not go down well with Pasuwa, who has now continually overlooked Mhari from the national team setup since taking up the top national job.
The former Dynamos coach, who led the Warriors to their first Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in a decade, however, denied that he had a personal score to settle with Mhari.
“I have nothing personal against Mhari and it’s not only him, but we have left out other players.
I’m a professional coach and surely, what do I benefit from destroying players’ careers? The thing is, we have mostly settled for continuity’s sake,” Pasuwa said, when questioned about Mhari’s continued omission this week.
Mhari has also been diplomatic when questioned about his continued banishment from the national team, as well as his relationship with Pasuwa.
“I have no hard feelings and as I have said before, I support the guys who have been selected. We can’t all be in the squad and my time will come. I have no problem with the coach or any member of the technical team,” Mhari said.
The reigning Goalkeeper of the Year was yet again the most notable absentee from Zimbabwe’s provisional squad for the upcoming 2017 CAF Afcon tournament in Gabon next month despite what was probably the best season of his career.
The FC Platinum skipper won the Castle Lager Goalkeeper of the Year award and was also voted among the league’s best three players, behind the CAPS United duo of Hardlife Zvirekwi and Leonard Tsipa.
The accolades were in recognition of a remarkable season by the former Hwange shot-stopper, who kept an incredible 18 clean sheets in the just-concluded PSL season.
If the selection was based purely on merit then Mhari would have been a sure bet to not only make it into the provisional squad but the final squad which will travel to Gabon for the Afcon finals early next month.
Instead, Pasuwa stuck to his trusted lieutenants of Tatenda Mukuruva of Dynamos, How Mine’s Donovan Bernard, Nelson Chadya of Ngezi Platinum Stars and gave a surprise call up to Takabva Mawaya of Hwange.
Critics have argued that the absence of a seasoned goalkeeper like Mhari in the provisional squad leaves Mukuruva with virtually no competition at all for the Warriors number one jersey.
While Pasuwa has argued that his selection policy is influenced by continuity, tendency to disregard current form has in most instances not gone down well with Warriors fans.
Early this year former Warriors goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini appeared to stir a hornet’s nest when he said selection to the national team was no longer based on merit, citing Mhari’s continued isolation.