Year in Review: Zimbabwe’s most notable sporting moments in 2022


ZIMBABWE’S continued suspension from international football by world football governing body, Fifa, cast a very long shadow on the local sporting landscape.

Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Zimbabwe and with the country’s football teams banned from international football competitions due to the Fifa suspension, there was very little to celebrate for local football fans.

While Zimbabwe’s suspension by Fifa certainly loomed large on the local sports sector, Zimbabwean fans still had plenty to cheer about in 2022.

Despite the economic hardships prevailing in the country and the outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequential impact on the local sports sector, our athletes and sports teams excelled on the international scene.

Here we look at Zimbabwean athletes and sports teams that achieved sporting greatness in 2022.

Chevrons’ remarkable turnaround

The year 2022 started on a promising note for the Zimbabwe cricket team. They came very close to causing a huge upset in their first assignment of the year when they narrowly lost a three-match ODI 2-1 away against Sri Lanka in January.

However, a spate of disappointing results at home against Namibia and Afghanistan in the lead up to the T20 World Cup qualifiers left the Zimbabwe Cricket board with no option but to sack head coach Lalchand Rajput.

The board’s decision to appoint Dave Houghton as the new head coach proved to be the turning point for the team, which suddenly went from being no-hopers to a confident side capable of competing against anyone.

Playing with a renewed vigour, the Chevrons comfortably qualified for the T20 World Cup which was held in Australia with allrounder Sikandar Raza being named Player of the Tournament.

Qualification for the World Cup was the beginning of a special period for Zimbabwe cricket as they secured ODI and T20 series victories at home against Bangladesh with Raza yet again played an important role.

Inspired by their new coach, Houghton, Zimbabwe also came close to causing an upset in the third and final match of their three-match ODI series against India at home.

Raza was the shining light for Zimbabwe and he made history by becoming the first local player to win the ICC Player of the Month Award in August.

After the near-miss against India, Zimbabwe’s hard work and persistence finally paid off when they upstaged a star-studded Australia in the third and final ODI for their first ever win against the hosts Down Under.

The Chervons carried their form into the World Cup, where they managed wins against Scotland and Ireland to qualify for the Super 12, causing a major upset by defeating the eventual losing finalists Pakistan by one run.

“Take Money” Chiwandire comes of age

Zimbabwean boxing has been yearning for a new boxing hero to take over from where Charles Manyuchi left off.

And it appears they have found one in Kudakwashe Chiwandire who is popularly known as “Take Money”.

Chiwandire first caught the attention of boxing fans in February when she became the first Zimbabwean female pugilist to win the coveted World Boxing Council (WBC) belt by defeating Catherine Phiri of Zambia in Lusaka.

As if that was not enough, she went a step further by overcoming the uncertainty which had surrounded her title defence by retaining her WBC interim super bantamweight silver title on her first attempt at home in October.

Chiwandire put on a good show in front of the local fans to defeat the higher ranked and more experienced Zulina Munoz from Mexico.

The victory took Chiwandire one step closer towards challenging for the WBC super-bantamweight gold title, which is in the hands of Yamileth Mercado, also of Mexico.

Golf star Vincent dazzles in Asia

Zimbabwe’s leading professional golfer Scott Vincent enjoyed a stellar season on the international circuit, cementing his growing status as the country’s brightest talent since the days of Zimbabwe’s all-time greats Nick Price, Mark McNulty, Tony Johnstone and Dennis Watson.

The 30-year-old golfer, who is affectionately known as “Mhondoro” won two international titles in 2022 in addition to making his major debut at the Open Championship at St Andrew’s.

The back-to-back wins in the Mizuno Open and Asian Tour International Series England were a turning point for Vincent as they secured him an invitation to feature in the inaugural event on the LIV Invitational Golf Series in London.

He didn’t look back as he went on to feature in all events on the new-look golf circuit, where he got the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s finest golfers while earning the lucrative prize money, which was on offer.

Vincent capped off the season in style by finishing top of the Asian Tour International Series Order of Merit, which earned him playing privileges for the 2023 LIV Golf League season.

Gems seal another World Cup qualification

Zimbabwe’s netball team made the nation proud this year by qualifying for their second successive Netball World Cup after coming third at the African qualifying tournament in August.

The Netball World Cup will be staged at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from July 28 to August 6, 2023 and Zimbabwe will take on world number one-ranked Australia, Tonga and Fiji in Pool A of the competition.

The Zimbabwe side, nicknamed the Gems, made their World Cup debut at the Liverpool edition in 2019, where they finished eighth out of the 16 participating nations.

Zimbabwe were drawn in Pool A with world number one ranked Australia, Tonga and Fiji when the draw for the 2023 Netball World Cup took place at the East London International Convention Centre in South Africa on Wednesday evening.

Junior Sables finally break Namibia jinx

Zimbabwe were made to wait another four years to try and qualify for the country’s first Rugby World Cup since 1991, following defeat to perennial tormentors Namibia during the qualifiers in France in July.

There was however, some consolation as the Zimbabwe Under-20 side showed that the future is very bright after defeating rivals Namibia in a tightly contested final in Kenya to secure their first continental silverware in 11 years.

By winning the 2022 edition of the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy, the Junior Sables earned the ticket to represent Africa at next year’s World Rugby Under-20 Trophy in Spain.

The Junior Sables, who won the last of their three successive titles in 2011, were second-favourites against Namibia ahead of the final having previously lost to their Southern African neighbours five times in the finals since the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2007.

However, the Shaun de Souza-coached side confounded expectations by putting on a dominant performance against their rivals.

Double gold delight for Zimbabwe’s hockey teams

From the Zimbabwe Under-21 girls’ team participation at the World Cup in South Africa and the qualification by both men and women’s senior teams for next year’s African Games in Ghana, it was indeed a very successful year for local hockey.

The year started on a high when the Zimbabwe senior ladies hockey team reached the Hockey Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) semifinals for the first time since 1998 in Ghana in January.

Although the ladies went on to narrowly miss out on a place in the final after a 2-1 loss to hosts Ghana, it was a very successful campaign for the team.

The Zimbabwe Under-21 side also showed that the future of the team is very bright when they caused a huge upset by defeating higher-ranked Canada 2-1 during the pool stages of the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa in April.

In what was the best year for local hockey in a while Zimbabwe’s national men and women’s hockey teams capped off a memorable year by winning gold in both categories during the Central-South Africa Qualifiers in Harare three months ago.

The victories meant the hockey men’s team qualified for next year's African Games. A busy year beckons for local hockey with the national men and women’s under-21 teams set to compete in the World Cup qualifiers in Egypt early next year.

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