THE 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season finally came to an end and once again it was not a team from Harare or Bulawayo that took the title.
Neither was it one of the three traditional giants Caps United, Dynamos or Highlanders that took the coveted crown.
It was, however, a small team from the rural areas of Mhondoro-Ngezi, Ngezi Platinum Stars that took the title with two games still to be played.
In second place was Manica Diamonds from Mutare who were using Gibbo Stadium in Triangle as their home ground as Mutare does not have — at the moment — a stadium fit to host premiership matches.
This means if Ngezi had fallen, another team outside the big three and outside Harare and Bulawayo would have wrested the title.
This once again confirms the shift of the balance of football power from the two big cities to the small towns and cities after FC Platinum of Zvishavane won the past four successive PSL titles.
Although financial power was given as the reason why The Money Bags dominated the past four seasons, this time, it was not money but good organisation from the Ngezi family that won them the championship.
The truth is that Dynamos and Highlanders were also financially sound with the backing of Sakunda Holdings, but it was the blunders in the decisions they made which cost them heavily.
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Highlanders experimented with a foreign coach in the form of Baltemar Brito who raised hopes after leading the race for almost half of the season before he ran out of ideas.
It would be dishonest to ignore the connection between Highlanders’ failure to win the title and Brito’s inability to handle pressure when the title race became tight.
To say Highlanders did not have good enough players capable of winning the league title when the same players went for 17 matches unbeaten would be an insult to this group of Bosso’s new crop of heroes.
The truth is that Bosso did not have a pilot good enough to steer the plane and made a big mistake by entrusting their destination in the hands of a foreign coach and for that matter in Brito.
At least Bosso have realised their mistake and will not be renewing the 71-year-old Brazilian’s contract when it expires on December 31.
Dynamos too had their coaching decisions to blame. First, they had Hebert Maruwa, who was later on replaced by Genesis Mangombe, as the same old story of continuous coaching changes repeated itself.
Continuity is surely one thing that never exists at Dynamos and there is no guarantee that Mangombe will last the whole season in 2024 and neither is there a guarantee that the current leadership will still be in their positions before the start of next season.
As long as this instability in the leadership and the coaching set up remains, Dynamos will have to wait for a decade or so before they can celebrate winning the leadership.
On the other end, at Ngezi, there was unity and a sense of common purpose from all — the leadership, the players, going down to their supporters who made long trips to Hwange, Bulawayo, Zvishavane, Triangle, and Kariba to lend support for their team.
The club also stuck with coach Takesure Chiragwi even though they did not do all that well in 2022 season and the results this season have been there for everyone to see.
Instead of going haphazardly shopping, Chiragwi added just a few players and stuck with most of the players who served him in 2022 and maintained the team spirit that existed before.
With Caps United slowly going down the drain due to financial constraints, it will not be easy for Dynamos and Highlanders to reclaim their old crown as long as they continue making kindergarten decisions especially in the coaching department.
Dembare and Bosso should be reminded that history does not play football but current form and as long as they are not properly organised the new kids will continue to rule Zimbabwean football.
Surely, FC Platinum, Chicken Inn and Manica Diamonds will come back stronger in 2024 while Ngezi will be eager for another title but with the added responsibility of playing in Africa.
Dynamos will need more strength than the players they have at their disposal to make an impression.
As we look forward to an eventful 2024 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season, we welcome Arenel, Bikita Minerals, Chegutu Pirates, and TelOne to the Premiership.
However, between now and the start of the season, their challenge would be having up-to-standard home grounds or else they will find themselves playing home matches in foreign territories and in the process dropping points.
The final result would be relegation back to Division One.
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