BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE/BY TERRY MADYAUTA
“THE General is back! Everyone has to know and watch out. My immediate target is to get into that Chan Warriors’ squad,” former Warriors midfielder Gerald Takwara bellowed after his unveiling as a Ngezi Platinum Stars player last week.
This is the player who left the country a little over 18 months ago to join Absa premiership side Ajax Cape Town with a lot expected of him.
Even the then Urban Warriors coach Muhsin Ertugral touted Takwara, a typical midfield hardman as the next Tinashe Nengomasha, when he showed flashes of
brilliance early on at the club.
But like many other Zimbabwean players who have trekked down south in recent seasons, Takwara is back where he started from, that is in local football.
“It’s a downfall, that’s how life is. Maybe I needed to take a step back in order to go forward, but I have learnt a lot, so I am going to try to use what I
learnt in South Africa and see if it’s going to work,” Takwara said in an interview with The Sports Hub last week
“It’s the same old me, still hard. “Maybe I have improved in some ways because it’s different in South Africa. My dream remains to go overseas. Maybe I will
have to go back to SA in order to achieve this dream. My aim is to play in the biggest leagues in the world,” he added.
The lucrative contracts offered by well-sponsored South African clubs have made the Absa Premiership a dream destination for many players in Zimbabwe.
However, it is intriguing that an alarming number of players packed their bags after failing to make an impact. Simply put, South Africa is proving to be a
difficult terrain for Zimbabwe players to succeed in recent years with many eventually returning home and in most cases failing to rediscover their lost touch.
Two weeks back, champions FC Platinum unveiled 2018 Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere, who is back on loan after failing to make an impact at
lowly South African club Baroka FC.
Other players who recently returned after failed stints in South Africa include Highlanders’ forwards Prince Dube and Bhukosi Sibanda.
Names that also quickly come to mind include Partson Jaure, Augustine Mbara, Denver Mukamba, Mitchelle Katsvairo, Devon Chafa, Moses Muchenje, Dominic Chungwa,
Thomas Chideu, Blessing Moyo and Rodrick Mutuma, just to mention a few.
Moyo played at Maritzburg United and TS Sporting where he was subsequently cut loose into the wilderness after a short stint just like Jaure, who had failed
expeditions at Polokwane City and Buildcon in Zambia.
Could it be a matter of bad luck, indiscipline or lack of hunger and drive to reach higher levels and to develop?
The Sports Hub caught up with former players, player agents and coaches in an attempt to unravel the mystery behind Zimbabwean players’ failure in SA.
Former Kaizer Chiefs and Warriors midfielder Nengomasha took a swipe at local coaches and clubs for not adequately preparing players for future challenges.
“It is lack of quality. We need to be honest about this issue and face it as it is for the sake of the game’s future in the country,” the Amakhosi legend said.
“Our players are always lacking quality in terms of tactics and physiologically. I would not blame the player ultimately, but I also blame the clubs and
coaches for not preparing these guys for bigger challenges because most foreign teams will not be happy if a player is not tactically apt.
“Players are made to believe that they have arrived when they are not even close. They are over published in the media so much that they start to feel too much
of themselves, which defeats the fact that despite God given abilities, one must be humble.
“I can’t say much about discipline because it is an individual issue, but coaches should encourage good behaviour to these players,” he added.
Renowned player agent Gilbert Sengwe reckons some of the moves are rushed.
“Some of these moves to foreign leagues are rushed. Players need grooming and it is hard to believe that after just six months of good performances, you hear a
player already claiming to be ready for foreign leagues,” he said.
“There is a need to take things step by step. Players must learn to keep calm and learn before they rush to demand moves to foreign leagues because as we have
seen, they are failing and coming back home. It is very embarrassing for player agents and Zimbabwean football at large. We are slowly losing credibility
because of this.”
Sengwe also noted that players lacked hunger and drive to keep up with the standard of foreign league.
“Some of the players lack that drive to conquer when they get opportunities. It is sad that some seem not to know that fortunes knocks once on your door.
“Those few gaps should be utilised because as it is, everyone is struggling in the country but things have to be taken step by step,” he said.
Joey Antipas, who once coached in South Africa at Amazulu opined that it was a case of misplaced priorities on the players part.
The veteran gaffer said players often failed to move out of their comfort zones after moving into foreign environments, where they are challenged to prove
their worth given the investment the clubs would have made to acquire their services.
“It is worrisome because we have the quality but once most of our exports enter South Africa, they forget what they really came for,” the Chicken Inn coach
“Some have become household names in those leagues but I noted that the South African lifestyle, especially the glitz and glamour associated with footballers
there, has seen our own stars going down the drain.
“But everyone in the footballing structures has to take the blame because we are not doing enough to nature our players to handle themselves in foreign lands,
how to be able to catch up with these ever-changing trends, styles of players and tactics,” said Antipas.
Another classic example of a local player who failed to live up to expectations after crossing the Limpopo is none other than the former Warriors and Dynamos
midfielder Denver Mukamba.
Mukamba had the world at his feet when he joined Bidvest Wits after being crowned the Soccer Star of the Year in 2012, but he was never able to realise his
full potential even after moving to fellow South African sides University of Pretoria and Jomo Cosmos.
The errant star is now trying to pick up the pieces at Chapungu after failed comeback stints at Dynamos and CAPS United due to disciplinary issues.
“I failed to excel in South Africa because of so many reasons. I played to the best of my abilities but it was unfortunate, maybe it was bad luck or that I was
not good enough but I do hope to get another chance,” Mukamba said.
“The South African league is good because earnings are better compared to our local league. I hope to be better and I encourage other players who join foreign
clubs to utilise those opportunities effectively,” said Mukamba.
A number of local players have moved to South Africa ahead of the new season with FC Platinum twin duo of Elvis and Kevin Moyo joining Chippa United while
their former teammate Farai Madhanhanga was captured by Bidvest Wits.
Ex-CAPS United and Highlanders speed merchant Gabriel Nyoni also recently began new life at Maritzburg United.
However, only time will tell whether these players can succeed where others have failed.