2011 — The good, the bad and the ugly

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The 2011 sporting season has come to an end and NewsDay Sports Editor Wellington Toni, Senior Sports Reporter Kevin Mapasure and Sports Reporter Albert Marufu take you through the year’s good, bad and the ugly.

The Good

Dynamos finished the year with an unprecedented four trophies under their belt — the
NetOne Charity Shield, the Bob 87 Super Cup, the Mbada Diamonds Cup and the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title.

This is a team that thrives under turbulence and when Lloyd Mutasa, who won the first two cups, was fired in August, there seemed to be troubled in the house, but Calisto Pasuwa extinguished the anguish leading to a memorable League and Cup double.

They will now represent Zimbabwe in the Caf Champions League with league runners-up FC Platinum.

Motor Action: Finished third in the PSL campaign but went away with the BancABC Super Eight after beating Highlanders 1-0 in the final in September. They will play in the Caf Confederation Cup with fourth-placed Hwange.

Highlanders: Ended the season in seventh position and have decided not to renew the contract of coach Mkhuphali Masuku which expires on Saturday.

Masuku won the Independence Trophy for the ailing former champions in April in an otherwise dull season in which they lost four players to Platinum. Masuku has been replaced by former Zambian international Kevin Kaindu, who starts work on January 15.

Mighty Warriors: Won the Cosafa Women’s Championships edging South Africa 1-0 in the final and beating the same team 3-0 in the Unity Challenge Cup on December 22.

They also qualified for the 2011 All-Africa Games staged in Maputo, Mozambique, in September.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter:Made a historic July 4 visit to Zimbabwe where he met President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Zifa leadership and the media, pledging to root out corruption and ban match-fixers for life, in addition to pledging financial support for Zifa president Cuthbert Dube’s association.

King of the Castle — Washington Arubi was named the Footballer of the Year.

The Bad

FC Platinum coach Benjamin Moyo: It was a bad day for Zimbabwean football on Friday April 22 when Moyo, one of the highest qualified coaches in Zimbabwe alongside Charles Mhlauri and Methembe Ndlovu, died in a mysterious swimming pool incident during a team camp in Shurugwi.

Events leading to his death have not been explained up to today, scientifically or otherwise. His project was taken over by Philani Mabhena, Patrick Mandizha and later Rahman Gumbo.

The Ugly

The Warriors: There is no need to dedicate much space to this perennial failure as once again we failed to make it to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

An embarrassing 0-0 home draw against the Cape Verde Islands — from the Zifa boardroom — and a 2-1 loss to the same team in the penultimate qualifier ensured that we will be watching lowly Botswana making their debut next month.

Suspensions — Cuthbert Dube’s victims
Solomon Mugavazi, Methembe Ndlovu, Kenny Marange, Gift Banda, Patrick Hokonya, Samukeliso Silengane, Cosmas Nyoni, Cedric Raisi — need we say more?

Fifa head of security Chris Eaton came to Zimbabwe as part of the investigations into the match-fixing scandal following (the release of the) Zifa report compiled by a committee headed by Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede.

Still investigating the Asiagate scandal, former national Under-17 head coach Rodwell Dhlakama was involved in yet another scandal dubbed Sowetogate after taking local players to South Africa to participate in the Discovery Cup without the authority of Zifa or even the Sports and Recreation Commission.

Tanzanian sexcapades

Tongai Mangwendere and Tapiwa Mafunga
For all the investment that Dube makes in the Warriors and the image that Tourism minister Walter Mzembi is building of the country, all that these two boys could do was to play hide the sausage with prostitutes in a foreign land.

Newsmakers of the Year

FC Platinum: They came into the league with strong financial backing and dismantled Highlanders, Motor Action, Dynamos and Gunners in getting the cream of the talent in the land, but were pipped to the league title on goal difference by veterans in the game — Dynamos.

Love them or hate them, they are the most organised team in the land and rattled quite some feathers in football, including at Zifa. Zifa had to get foreign match officials after allegations of match-fixing and, perhaps, in a bid to ensure one team does not win the league title or to protect some teams.

Zifa, on the other hand, extended their begging bowl to one of the teams when they had to send that perennial failure called the Warriors to a foreign assignment!

Russian Dream

Former Amavevane, Motor Action and Warriors striker Musa Mguni broke new ground in local football when he became the first player to break into the lucrative Russian Premier League. He plays for Terek Grozny and they finished 11th in the league.

Castle Lager: A big thank you for your return to the Premier Soccer League this year. This should mark the beginning of an unbreakable relationship going forward.

Mbada Diamonds Holdings: $1 million! They came; they saw and want to stay — a big thank you again for a wonderful start to your first year in this marriage and the allowances for the players in each match!

BancABC: The sponsors of the Super Eight, league champions Dynamos, Highlanders and Black Mambas. It’s a huge investment that the three teams and the league have to nurture. A hearty thank you.

Cricket

The Zimbabwe national cricket team served up just about everything in the year 2011, from woeful to wonderful performances in a historic Test return year.

Having started the year in lamentable fashion at the 2011 World Cup hosted in Asia and eventually won by India, Zimbabwe finally marked the return to Test cricket with a collision against Bangladesh.

Unleashing an unheralded left-arm seamer in Brian Vitori, aided by fellow seamer Kyle Jarvis and well supported by the more experienced duo of Elton Chigumbura and Chris Mpofu as the other two quick men, Zimbabwe played cricket of pace and quality that the tourists just could not match.

On the batting side, captain Brendan Taylor hit a century while both Craig Ervine and Tatenda Taibu gave good support after solid starts in both innings by Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda to anchor a thrilling 130-run victory.

The Test triumph was to be followed up by a 3-2 ODI series victory over the same opponents with Vitori emerging the star of the show with three five-wicket hauls.

Prior to that, the World Cup had seen the team losing to all other opponents and only managing to win against no-hopers Canada and Kenya, after being clustered with New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka.

The biggest victim of those defeats was the then captain Elton Chigumbura, who was relieved of his duties for Taylor to take over.

But after showing that they were worthy Test competitors, the Alan Butcher-coached lot showed that they could also be just as disappointing when they threw away a good opportunity to take a valuable Test draw — if not a win — against Pakistan.

Swimming

Swimming was once again confirmed as one of the strongest disciplines for Zimbabwe, scoring success on the international scene.

Zimbabwe’s sports queen and Olympic medallist Kirsty Coventry won four gold and four silver medals at the All-Africa Games in both individual and team events as she gears for the 2012 London

Olympics.

Samantha Welch won bronze in an individual event before winning three silver medals in the team events while Nicole Horn made her first appearance at the Games with two individual silver and three team silver medals as well.

Coventry, Horn, Welch and Kirsten Lapham teamed up for the team silver medals.

Rugby

The usually under-achieving Sables finally played to their potential in 2011 to end as the “Team of the Year”. The Sables swept all before them to win both the Victoria Cup and the Africa Group B championship to progress to Group A after victories over Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar.

The Sables won all they matches home and away and their best wins must be those against Kenya, to finally redecorate their trophy cabinet with some silverware.

Their juniors, the Young Sables, also had another fruitful year on the continent, but not so much elsewhere after losing all matches at the Junior World Rugby Trophy finals in Georgia.

But after losing out and having their dreams of advancing to the Junior World Rugby Cup were emphatically dashed, they came back to the continent and swept all before them to win another berth at the global showcase next year.

Athletics

In a discipline that has over the years seen a sharp decline, 2011 goes down as they year Zimbabwean athletics finally got its groove on.

Ngoni Makusha and Steven Muzhingi were the mainstay of that success with both recording good results on the international scene.

Makusha was particularly thrilling with his bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships after other record breaking results in the USA, his base.

Makusha missed the All-Africa Games where he was expected to participate in the long jump and 200m events, but his medal at the Games is the biggest highlight of the year in the discipline.

The sprinter and long jumper is the national record holder over 100m and long jump for Zimbabwe, with 9,89s and 8,40m respectively.

Both performances were achieved during the 2011 NCAA Division I Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, where he completed the 100m long jump double.

Following the two gold medals victory, Makusha has become one of the only four athletes to win the double (100m and long jump) at the NCAA championships.

Administrative boobs and squabbles still took some of the limelight, but once again Muzhingi ran the fastest time at the Comrades marathon in South Africa to claim gold at the same event for the third time on the trot.

Hockey

Hockey finally made a return to the international scene after years on the sidelines. Two teams competed for the London 2012 Olympics Games spots reserved for Africa, but both were routed on home soil in Bulawayo.

Tennis

The NetOne Zimbabwe Open was won by Takanyi Garanganga. The US-based tennis star also won gold at the All-Africa Games in Maputo while he also represented the country in the Davis Cup where they failed to make an impact in a team that also featured another rising star, Benjamin Lock.

Motor Rallying

Zimbabwe’s Conrad Rautenbach took the FIA African Rally Championship this year after winning the Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge and going on to win the South African series starting with the ARC Sasol Rally, the FIA African Rally Championship second round.

The Green Fuel Ford team tackled two championships simultaneously this season, a mammoth task for the small, dedicated band of technicians.