DYNAMOS outcast Denver Mukamba has, for the first time, opened up on his fallout with coach Lloyd Mutasa, alleged substance abuse, and his career aspirations, where he vows to return to his old best and possibly join a team in the English Premier League.
BY HENRY MHARA
The 25-year-old is currently banned from joining up with the Harare giants in their pre-season preparations, with reports suggesting that the club and his handlers are negotiating his exit package.
And after weeks of sustained publicity on his alleged misdemeanours, which resulted in the fallout with Mutasa, the 2012 Soccer Star of the Year invited NewsDay Weekender Sport to his family home in Highfield for an exclusive interview.
Getting to his place was not a difficult task. “When you get to Machipisa shops, just ask anyone where Gogo Kawinga lives and they will show you,” he said over the phone.
Gogo Kawinga is Mukamba’s grandmother, the person who raised the star after the death of his mother.
NewsDay Weekender Sport arrived at his homestead to be greeted by two ladies, who were standing at the gate.
And before they could open the gate, Mukamba emerged from inside and walked straight to the car outside, shaking his head.
“You see, it’s not very difficult to find me. But every day, you media people write about me without getting my side of the story,” he said.
He quickly jumped into the back of the car.
“We will do the interview here because gogo doesn’t want me to talk to the media because a lot of bad things have been written about me in the papers. I had to convince her to give you this interview.
“People want to know what is really happening with me,” the talented forward started talking before we could even pose a question.
“I get hurt when I hear all the things being said about me. Sometimes I make mistakes, but I’m human, just like everybody else. I can’t judge myself, but I don’t think I deserve even half of what is being said about me.”
So Denver, where did it all go wrong?
“The things started last season in the build-up to the match against Ngezi Platinum Stars. I missed training for a day, it was on a Wednesday, because I was having some genuine problems. Some people didn’t believe me when I told them I was sick. I was genuinely sick, but people thought I was lying,” Mukamba said.
“After the Ngezi Platinum Stars match, the team manager (Richard Chihoro) phoned me and said I should stop reporting for training. I told him you can’t ban me through the phone, so I told him I will come to the training base so you can tell me formally.
“When I reported for training, I was with Lincoln Zvasiya (who had also missed a training session) and we were barred from getting involved with the rest of the players. We waited on the sidelines until they finished training. We did that for four consecutive days, arriving at the training base in time and readying ourselves to train with the other players, but they wouldn’t just allow us, so we eventually gave up. We stopped reporting for duty.
“I decided to stop training because there were a lot of stories that were coming up, which gave a very bad picture of me. I was called to a disciplinary hearing and given a final warning.”
While Mukamba escaped with a final warning, Zvasiya was not so lucky, as he was kicked out.
“There were three games left before the end of the season, but still I was told not to report for duty, apparently because I was no longer in the coach’s plans. But just before the last game of the season (against Chicken Inn), I was phoned and they told me I should have reported for training because I was in the plan for the game,” he said.
“When the team regrouped for pre-season a fortnight ago, I was not told. It was (club secretary-general Webster) Marechera who phoned me later informing me that pre-season training had started. He asked me if I had spoken with the coach about it. I then decided to report for training, but I was once again barred. I was so hurt that I decided to walk away.”
Mukamba, who had an unsuccessful stint in South Africa before returning home to sign a two-year contract last June, was part of the Dynamos “cabal” accused of abusing a cough syrup for intoxication.
“I’m not a drug addict. Maybe I used to abuse them, but not anymore. I still have hope of resuscitating my career and I’m very confident that I can do it. My dream is to play for some of the big clubs outside the country,” he said.
“I know if I work hard, I can play for all the big teams in South Africa such as Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs. I can even play for Manchester United, Liverpool and even Man City. I haven’t lost focus, that’s my target. I have made a few mistakes, but I’m not totally out.”
I have repented
After all the problems, Mukamba said he was ready for a fresh start.
“It was a little misunderstanding that has been amplified in the media. We should stop all this talking and start afresh. I’m ready to go back to Dynamos and start training on Monday next week. I’m asking them to accept me back. If I skip training again, then they can send me away for good. I’m apologising to everyone who I wronged. I’m still young and I make mistakes, but I’m ready to repent and start afresh,” he
“I won’t give up on my career. I’m a footballer, and playing football is my life. What else can I do if I stop playing football? I’m still young to quit football. If I’m to retire now, people will think I’m an age cheat.”
Mukamba also spoke about his relationship with Mutasa, which has seemingly reached an irreconcilable stage.
“I don’t have any issues with Mutasa. He is the one who discovered me and I will never speak ill of him. He is the one who took me in when I returned from South Africa and gave me a chance. So to me, he is a very good man,” he said, praising his mentor.
“We often speak and he always gives me advice. Even during the early years of my career, when I came into the spotlight, he was the one who was always pushing me to do better.
“I haven’t spoken to the technical team, but I understand my manager Gibson Mahachi is engaging them. He is not happy with what is happening, especially the stories that are coming out in the newspapers concerning me. He is the one who is helping me with everything. He has been with me through thick and thin, and I’m really grateful.”
‘My heart is with Dynamos only’
Mukamba is hoping that Mutasa can find it in himself to change his heart and put him back into his plans.
“I love Dynamos, it’s a big club and it opens opportunities for players. This club made me a superstar, so if I’m to leave, I won’t say bad things about the club. My heart is with Dynamos and to be honest, I don’t desire playing for any other club in the country. I still have a contract with them and I wish to see it through. Right now, my heart bleeds that I’m not training with the team. I’m losing a lot in terms of fitness.
“I want to rise again. It won’t be easy, but I’m prepared to work hard. I know I can do it. I can’t afford to make more blunders at this stage of my life. I have reformed and I know people want to see it, so I will show them when the season starts. This is my year and I’m going to shine. I have my targets this year and I’m confident I’m going to meet them.”