THE year is coming to a close with most major football leagues abroad taking a break — mostly at the halfway stage – to pave way for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
By Henry Mhara
As the Zimbabwean soccer players playing abroad begin to fly home for these holidays, several would reflect on what had been a very difficult season so far, while most has had a time of their lives with their respective clubs.
Starting in Czech Republic where Warriors defender Costa Nhamoinesu has had a very eventful year with his side Sparta Praha, playing in the prestigious Uefa Champions League – the world’s premier club competition.
The 28-year-old helped his club to a treble, lifting the Czech Liga title, a feat that got them a ticket to represent the country in the Uefa Champions League.
The team also won the Czech Cup as well as the Czech Super Cup in what Nhamoinesu has himself described as the best year of his career for the former AmaZulu and Masvingo United player.
But his greatest moment should be when he was named the Best Foreign Player of the 2013/14 season in the Czech Republic top flight league.
The season is currently at the halfway stage with Praha on second position, just a point behind log leaders Viktoria Plzeň. The dreadlocked Nhamoinesu has started and finished in all his team’s league matches this season.
Still in Europe, Young Warriors midfielder Marvellous Nakamba made a dream move from the France League 2 division to Netherlands’ top-flight league side Vitesse.
The 20-year-old joined the team on a five year deal early this year after impressing on trials, which included a match against English Premiership giants Chelsea.
He has however seen very little action since joining the club, making two appearances for a total eight minutes on the pitch.
Two Warriors players based in Denmark Quincy Antipas and Silas Songani have been enjoying their time for their clubs Hobro and SønderjyskE respectively.
Antipas made the switch to promoted Hobro from Brøndby at the start of the season as the team’s major signing, and he has not disappointed at least. He has featured in all the team’s 17 matches, scoring three goals as the team lie seventh on the log standings.
In his second season in Denmark, Songani continues to improve. He played seven matches for the club last season, but he has already featured in 12 out of 17 this year, scoring one goal.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing though for Archford Gutu in Sweden, who after failing to command a regular jersey at top flight league side Kalmar FF, was loaned to second tier side Värnamo where he has featured 13 times this season.
Closer to home in the South African premier league, Kaizer Chiefs’ duo of Willard Katsande and Kingston Nkhatha have been particularly impressive.
The gritty Katsande has been the team’s mainstay and before his injury last week, had started in all the team’s matches where they closed the year top of the log with a healthy 15 point lead.
Nkhatha has also done well for himself despite criticism from a section of the team’s fans. His cause has been helped by the team’s coach who has stuck by his player even in the face of barraging attacks from both the fans and the media.
At Mamelodi Sundowns, Khama Billiat started the season late due to an injury but his return has been flawless, scoring four goals in four consecutive matches.
Billiat’s teammate Cuthbert Malajila, has continued from where he left last season, scoring goals for his club, while Kuda Mahachi has been playing here and there. Malajila is the club’s top scorer, and together with Tendai Ndoro of Black Aces, are the highest Zimbabwean scorers in the South African Premiership side with five goals each.
The club’s veteran midfielder Esrom Nyandoro is set to retire at the end of the season and reports suggests he will be given a post in the team’s technical team to join former Warriors captain Peter Ndlovu, who is the team manager.
Washington Arubi continues to do well at Pretoria University, where he has Patson Jaure who has also fitted smoothly in the team – and so is Khumbulani Banda at Maritzburg United.
But for some, it has been a season to forget so far. Ovidy Karuru has made just one appearance for Kaizer Chiefs, as an injury time substitute, since his well-publicised move from Belgium at the start of the season.
Mathew Rusike has played a combined 11 minutes in two appearances for Chiefs with reports that the Warriors man would be shipped out during the January transfer window.
Goalkeeper George Chigova is yet to feature for SuperSport United since his move at the start of the season. It’s also looking all gloomy for the duo of Tapuwa Kapini and Carlington Nyadombo whose AmaZulu side are rock bottom in the log standings, with nine points from 16 matches.