My young brother , the straight talking Witness Guzhumbwe declared, ” It is time for Zimbabwe teams to play dirty too. We treat these teams well but when we go to their countries , they mistreat us!” Respected blogger Hope Chizuzu writing on his hard hitting The Page declared, ” It seems Simba have weaponised Covid 19, 5 players from F C Platinum have tested positive. Simba FC will leave no stone unturned to secure victory!”.
Yes Simba F C have often been accused of playing dirty. It seems they have found a new weapon to aid them in their quest for glory, Covid 19. The previous team which played against Simba S C also had a lot to say about these shenanigans by our brothers in Tanzania.
A spokesperson for Plateau United of Nigeria, writing on their twitter account had this to say, ” The management of Plateau United is looking to petition CAF to look into the antics of Simba S C who kept out two of our players from facing them. We conducted some independent tests and they came back negative !”.
One of the players Adetunyi also poured out his frustration with the whole process, he added, “They claimed i was positive, our management engaged a private hospital and my result came out negative!”.
As highlighted in the introduction, yesterday it was the turn of FC Platinum to cry foul. Some have blamed the team for proceeding with the match after what transpired. The results of the test only came through some two hours before the match. The results were handed over by the Simba SC officials and that raised the eyebrows of all neutral observers. FC Platinum had to make last minute changes and this affected the coaches and the team’s plans.
This discussion however calls for some balance. Was the heavy 4-0 defeat a direct result of the dodgy behaviour of the hosts ? Did Platinum stand a good chance to earn a result in the packed Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam? Yes the Stadium was packed, apparently President John Pombe Magifuli has declared Tanzania a Covid 19 free country. So close to 30 000 Tanzanians packed the stadium to cheer Simba SC. What chances then did the Zimbabwe Champions have?
To be honest, when the team scrapped a 1-0 win at the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare i was far from confident that they would hold on to that and pull through. It was always going to be a big ask for” Platso” as their fans call them to defend that slender lead. I have seen Zimbabwe teams gain a hard earned slender lead at home only to crumble away on more than one occasion. So allow me to say , the defeat did not shock me, i kind of expected it.
When i saw a video of a few PLatinum supporters singing the funeral dirge, “ndimi makauraya , hazvina mhosva, pahukama ” i knew it would not end well. Who sings a funeral song when going to battle ? That was poor by the supporters. We need new songs!
I did not watch the whole match, just the highlights and even those highlights only focused more on what Simba S C did right. The penalty was dubious but the other three goals, Platinum were simply cut to pieces. The attacks by Simba were devastating, the third goal was beautiful, they walked that one into the nets. The second goal was a blunder by the keeper who parried the ball back into play. He literally invited the Simba striker to kill off his team. It was a gift. The fourth goal a penalty, again , the defence was sliced open and the foul was laughable. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot. That was the final nail in the coffin,” Platso” were buried. But i am told that they missed a glorious chance to equalise, at 1-1 maybe Simba would have panicked. Goals change matches.
However, there is something called psychological preparation and clearly the F C Platinum players were not ready. They carried an injustice onto the pitch and instead of building a siege mentality and galvanising themselves , they simply got distracted. They argued with the , they protested and they harangued the referee. Alois Bunjira made an interesting comment, ” It was like watching a boozers team from St. Marys! ” That might sound harsh, but yes, they lost their focus. Another legend, Cephas Chimedza concurred, ” The whole team was not prepared for the injustice, it affected how they played. In future we should take care of all the small details and not rely on the hosts to help us. The team doctor should have monitored how the tests are done but ku Zimbabwe tinoti hazvina basa !” stressed Mboma.
For me however , the big picture is important. The CAF Champions League is the premier competition in Africa. It is the pride of CAF at club level. As such, it should accorded the respect that it deserves .Most Africans are obsessed with European football. We all admire the UEFA Champions League and how it is run. Can we ever envisage a situation where Liverpool or Manchester United go to play Juventus and they complain about dodgy Covid 19 results?
Such a scenario will never happen. Why is it possible that complaints are raised about such behaviours in Africa and nothing happens. While Covid 19 might the new weapon, other tactics have been used before.
In 1998, Dynamos reached the finals against Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast. Their captain , Memory Mucherahowa was headbutted during the warm up by one of the bouncers or players. ” I nearly died !” said the captain later in his autobiography, Dreams Of Seven Million Souls.
Should CAF have allowed the match to proceed ? Maybe because of the threat of crowd violence, but after that they should have ordered a replay. Dynamos played under protest but the powers that be buried their heads in the sand and rewarded Asec Mimosas for an act of blatant unsporting behaviour. Now their football shirt has a star, a star which denotes that they were champions of Africa in 1998. But how clean is this honour?
That FC Platinum lost is neither here nor there, they probably played a better team. What should concern those who seek to promote African football is the blatant mistreatment of visiting teams by host nations. The competition , like AFCON is meant to unite Africans. It is meant to imbue the spirit of Ubuntu, of brotherhood among Africans, but often it is turned into a mini war. CAF should take its competitions seriously. Complaints must be investigated and if proven right, offending teams should be punished. Replays can be ordered and repeat offenders must be chucked out.
Only then can the competition be sanitized and its prestige restored. CAF should guard it jealously, Africans should be proud of it and not dismiss it as a circus! Some will say visiting teams need a thick skin. Teams do not need a thick skin, they need professional etiquette and CAF can easily ensure that !
PS. My condolence go to coach Norman Mapeza who lost his father, he succumbed to Covid 19. It never rains but pours, stay strong! We also lost a legend of the game, Anthony Kambani nicknamed Bryan Robson. What a player!
May the families be comforted.