The rise of Monomotapa

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THE just ended 2011-2012 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League was full of drama, and will go down as one of the best campaigns in recent memory and in the books of Monomotapa.

REPORT BY HENRY MHARA SPORTS REPORTER

From the double-winning story of Dynamos, the last minute heartbreak of Highlanders, the fight for places in Africa, to the season-ending scramble to climb out of the relegation spots, it was just a thrilling campaign.

But Monomotapa deserves special mention for their considerable efforts in exceeding expectations.

Although they ended up in fourth place and missed out on the Caf Champions League ticket after shocking defeats in the last four matches, they compensated with an almost faultless campaign in the Mbada Diamonds Cup final where they fell right at the last hurdle.

That they managed to halt Highlanders’ 23 league match unbeaten run with a 3-0 win before dumping the Bulawayo giants and pretournament favourites FC Platinum out of the Mbada Diamonds Cup, speaks volumes of the special quality that
“Monoz” possessed last season.

This week, NewsDay Sport spoke to Monomotapa chairman Joseph Mukoki to reflect on the successes, the failures, challenges of the just ended and past campaigns, the team’s Confederation Cup and next season’s aspirations.

Below are his comments:

Reflections on the past season
“Our target was to finish in the top four and I’m happy we achieved it. We were very inconsistent in the first half of the season and we reflected on it during the mid-season break. We revisited our pre-season objectives and we realised that if we continued drawing and losing matches as we were doing, we would not finish in the top four. So we had to part ways with head coach Taurai Mangwiro,” Mukoki said.

“We promoted assistant coach Biggie Zuze and fortunately players adapted well to the new set-up and we started to get results. We were more determined though in the Mbada Diamonds Cup because of the financial rewards that come with it,” added Mukoki.

“We did our best although we could not win the final – which was our first cup final by the way – but I think we did exceptionally well. We were so strong in the second half of the season that some people even accused us of match-fixing when we lost some matches. If we had been consistent in the first half, I think we could have had a big say on the title race. That we also managed to finish in the top four and reached the Mbada Cup final, I can safely say we had a very successful season this year.”

Caf Confederations Cup dream and next season’s objectives
Immediate task for Monoz is to hold on to some of their stars. But with some “vultures” circling in on them, it will be a difficult if not an impossible mission to do.

Strikers Kuda Musharu, Tawanda Nyamandwe and goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi – pillars to Monoz’s campaign – are free agents after their contracts expired at the end of the season and are all rumoured to be heading for Dynamos.

Star midfielder Russel Madamombe, who is still contracted to Monoz, has also publicly stated that he wants to join the league champions, while their best player of the season Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo is not short of suitors.

Said Mukoki: “We are going to Vumba next week for a one-week retreat in preparation for the Caf Confederation Cup and the season ahead. This shows how serious we are. We have been in Africa before and we know its demands. There is so much pressure in Africa – the travelling and fatigue – so if we do well in the Confederations Cup we will not demand too much from the boys on the local front.

“A top-four finish would be enough for us. But we have a strong team and if we can manage to hold on to some of our senior players and add some few youngsters, I think we will have a good chance to progress past the semi-final stage. But we know some of our players are going to move, it’s inevitable.”

Added Mukoki: “We will not budge on any of our players who are still contracted to us, but there is nothing we can do to stop a free agent if he is offered a better contract somewhere. We will do our best to persuade them though. I think we are also short- staffed on the bench, so we might consider hiring a second assistant coach. But those are the decisions we will make in Vumba.”

Why Monoz failed to shine
2009 – “Our players were concentrating more on the Caf Champions League matches. They were not putting all their efforts on the league because they were afraid to get injured. No one wanted to miss the next flight.”

2010 – “We experienced some serious financial problems and we also lost some of our best players like Chris Samakweri and Daryl Nyandoro, so we were rebuilding.”

2011 – “Most of our players’ contracts had expired and we had sent some our star players out on-loan to try and balance our books. We were left with only eleven players and we recruited others from Eagles. It took them time to gel into the system and we almost got relegated.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Monoz are an organised Team thumps to the management team for giving a chance to Bindura part one Biggie Zuze and Nkululeko Dhlamini . He promises to be a very good coach who can bring the best out even some ordinary players. By the way does anyone know whether or not Bindura part two Garikai Zuze is also into coaching.I really used to like their combination Biggie through the centre of the midfield and Garikai from the wings.

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