Why are the Zim players failing?
Harare – From Ebson “Sugar” Muguyo’s artistry with Kaizer Chiefs in the ‘70s to Knowledge Musona’s goal-scoring prowess after the turn of the millennium, and others in between, Zimbabwe’s footballers have left footprints in South Africa that will last a life-time.
Wilfred Mugeyi turned himself into a feared forward, in the ‘90s, who terrorised defences, Rabson Muchihwa’s flights down the left side of the Amakhosi defence made an entire country to stand and take notice while Tinashe Nengomasha became so dominant they simply called him ‘The General’.
Muguyo made such a huge impact, at Chiefs, that he was named as one of the 12 greatest Chiefs players of all-time.
The Zimbabweans were the imports that built Super Diski – popular with the coaches in that country for their raw talent and hard work, repeatedly putting in long shifts on the training ground and giving their all on Match Days.
But, something is changing.
Suddenly, Zimbabwean players are finding it difficult to make the grade in a league that they have dominated, for decades, and as the number of those who are being rejected rises, questions are now being asked here centred on what has suddenly gone wrong.
The past two years have been difficult ones for the Zimbabwean footballers, hoping to start a new life in the better-paying league of South Africa, with a number of bright prospects either failing to make the grade or being swallowed by the challenge they have failed to make an impact.
Denver Mukamba, who won the Zimbabwe Player of the Year award in 2012, was dubbed one of the best talents, to explode on the domestic football scene in recent years, following his stunning individual performances as the talisman of Dynamos, the country’s biggest football club.
Then only 20, Mukamba represented the future, not only of his team, but even the Warriors and German coach, Klaus Dieter-Pagels, even named him skipper of the national team during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
But, in two seasons in Super Diski, Mukamba has struggled to shine and his club BidVest Wits even loaned him to Pretoria University, at the beginning of this season; with Coach Gavin Hunt feeling that the attacking midfielder needs time to adjust while playing at a club where the pressure is less intense.
At least, Mukamba is still fighting for his chance even though he has failed to make the kind of impact that many in this country hoped for when he bade farewell to Dynamos.
Rodreck Mutuma, who won the Golden Boot in this country in 2012 before securing a deal at Bloemfontein Celtic, is back at Dynamos – after a largely forgettable season in South Africa – where he failed to make any impact.
Simba Sithole made his name playing for the Young Warriors, forcing Mamelodi Sundowns to sign him with the club confident he could make the same impact that Musona had made at Chiefs, but the Zimbabwean forward failed the test and, after being given another opportunity at SuperSport United, which he fluffed, he is back home.
Another Simba Sithole caught the eye at the CHAN finals in South Africa, playing for the Warriors, and convinced Ajax Cape Town that they had found the forward who could provide them with a glut of goals.
Six months after signing a two-year deal, his contract was terminated last week with no goal to his name.
Midfielder Peter “Rio” Moyo, another star for the Warriors at CHAN, was offered a deal by Mpumalanga Black Aces and even said goodbye to his teammates but, after spending week training with the club, Coach Gavin Barker decided he wasn’t good enough for his team.
Why are the Zimbabweans failing?
“I think it’s too generalizing to say that our players are failing to make the grade at South Africa,” Zimbabwean football agent, Calvin Nyazema, to The Southern Times.
“Yes, we have had a big turnover, in terms of the ones who have failed, but it should be taken in the context of the numbers that we send there.
“For every failed case, you are likely to get four others who made it and that kind of balance it. Our boys need to work hard, no doubt about that, because the others are raising their standards and now want our slots.”