TWINE PHIRI, the owner of Caps United, immaculately clad in a Paulo Maldini suit, for a moment resembled calmness and opulence at the troubled football club, but a stone’s throw away, his players paced around like an army without a commander.
HENRY MHARA/JOHN MOKWETSI
The media had waited for close to three hours at Arcadia Sports Club for want-away coach Taurai Mangwiro, who quit his job on Sunday after watching his team suffer its heaviest defeat in the last 12 matches, losing 3-1 to Shabanie at Mandava in Zvishavane.
Saul Chaminuka, Caps’ assistant coach, stood transfixed in a red T-shirt and blue tracksuit bottom.
He paced up and down the field with hands behind his back, apparently doubting the confidence he had in Mangwiro turning up to fight for one more day for a football cause.
Masvingo, where he was said to be coming from since Monday, looked a little bit too far than he anticipated.
The media was barred from the training ground by the overzealous club security.
And then, Mangwiro — against all odds — with some journalists long gone, turned up.
His blue jeans and floral shirt was a sharp contrast to the designer suit his boss wore so fittingly.
He shied away from the lenses of the photojournalists’ cameras by taking a sharp turn into Arcadia Sports Club bar with Caps United chief executive officer Joe Makuvire in tow.
For an hour, Mangwiro did not show up from where he had holed himself, but Makuvire did several times pulling Phiri aside from inquisitive journalists — as if to converse about the demands Mangwiro must have been making.
And then the gaffer, who has suffered for his Dynamos association from a clique of the usual militant Caps supporters, walked out with half a smile and half a grimace.
His players, with sweat streaming down their brows, waited in anticipation by the terrace of the dilapidated stadium as Mangwiro, flanked by Phiri and Makuvire, walked towards them.
The club’s manager Gideon Mubayi took the floor first, then Makuvire and then Phiri.
A jittery-looking Mangwiro was the last to speak to the players, but the message from them all was almost the same.
“In any house you have squabbles,” Mangwiro said to attentive players. “We must find common ground and surge ahead.”
And then the soft-spoken Phiri sighed before he smiled: “We are one family. We rise and fall together. I know we have our problems, but everything is in order. I understand your concerns and they will be addressed.”
With that message, the team huddled together and prayed for divine intervention, for unity, for prosperity, for their problems to disappear and for their next match on Saturday — an awkward assignment against an in-form Chicken Inn in the Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-finals at Ascot Stadium.
Timeline of Events
0900hrs: Players arrive at Arcadia Sports Club in the green team bus for their training session. The players go straight to the terraces where they reluctantly change into their training gear. They seem very much uninterested.
1035hrs: An immaculately-clad Phiri arrives flanked by his son Ishmael, club chief executive officer Joe Makuvire and club manager Gideon Mubayi.
1040hrs: Phiri addresses the club’s technical team which has assistants Saul Chaminuka, Brenna Msiska and Albert “Dalala” Mabika.
1051hrs: Phiri leaves the sports club for the car park before disappearing to an unknown destination.
1150hrs: Phiri returns two minutes later and then coach Taurai Mangwiro, clad in a blue jean and a floral summer shirt, also arrives at the training ground. Mangwiro goes straight into the sports club bar and Makuvire follows him moments later for a meeting.
1302hrs: Mangwiro and Makuvire emerge from the bar and are joined by Phiri where they meet the players.
1328hrs: The meeting is over as the players, the executive members and the technical team huddle together in prayer, and then hugs follow. Players go to the team bus, while Mangwiro and his technical team head for the sports club bar for a game of pool, in what is seen as a show of unity at the club once again.