…as Kingdom Boys edge The Busmen to maintain a grip on ERSL.

By Clayton Shereni

For over 10 years football loving fans in Masvingo have never tasted premiership action and were slowly losing hope but if the belief in local teams  witnessed at Mucheke stadium on Sunday is anything to go by, the thirst for topflight football might soon be quenched.

A record crowd thronged Mucheke stadium to have a glimpse of what could be the best game so far at the venue.

Thousands of people flocked to the Match day venue to witness a match they have been waiting for since Match day 1.

Masvingo’s most successful football club, Masvingo United played host to ambitious side FC Wangu Mazodze in a thrilling local derby, as the two sides use the same venue as their favorite hunting ground.

It was pride at stake for both players, coaches, executives, and their 12th man (fans) as the battle for supremacy in the city rages on.

A battle of two coaches who once donned the same jersey playing side by side at Masvingo United during the peak of their careers.

 For their names sake, it was a battle of the G’s. However, pressure was mounting on both of them. Godfrey ‘Mai Mahofa’ Dondo and George ‘Mavhariro’ Magariro had to prove how good they are on the touchline since hanging their boots and opting to be tacticians.

Godfrey had a huge task to turn the fortunes of his club which is struggling to pick up points while George had to maintain pole position and give hope for the return of PSL action in Masvingo.

At the end of the 90 minutes, it was George and his Kingdom Boys who emerged victorious courtesy of a solitary strike by veteran forward Rowland ‘Rooney’ Makiwa two minutes towards the end of regulation time.

Despite protests by Una-Una players over what the club’s faithful deemed ‘controversial’ officiating, Kingdom Boys claimed three points maintaining a two points lead over second-placed Tenax CS FC from Mutare.

Speaking to Centre News after the game, Una Una head coach, Dondo said a derby is not an easy task for any team and the result confirms that.

“It’s not always easy for any team to win a derby. Today’s result shows that we played our level best and we stood toe to toe with our opponents but unfortunately, we conceded a late goal, said Dondo.

His counterpart, Magariro also told this publication that he was elated by his team’s display and thanked fans for rallying behind them and coming in their numbers.

“I am very happy with the result, the ground was packed with fans wearing red and blue which are the colors of both teams. Our fans came in their numbers, it shows that people believe in us and we will work extra hard to bring back PSL action in Masvingo,” said Magariro.

However, for the neutrals, football won at the end of the day!

  Just like any other derby, the tension on the field of play was the order of the day but it was the midfield battle between two maestros; Albert ‘Arturo’ Zvavarungu of Una Una and Admire ‘Dhumbe’ Banda of Wangu Mazodze who caught the eye of many football faithfuls.

A clear show of class and raw talent was exhibited as both midfielders took turns to dictate the pace in the middle of the park.

With Mazodze looking more dangerous in the second half, the introduction of Munyaradzi ‘Nyaga’ Mazorodze gave Una Una some hope with the attacking midfielder showing off some little flicks and providing defense-splitting passes but the failure by Una Una forwards to convert proved costly and they were punished.

Above it all, it is the love of the game that was exhibited that proved how desperate the city is for top-flight football. The grandstands and terraces were fully packed while hundreds of cars were parked in and outside the stadium. Even the police force had to reinforce realizing the ballooning numbers of people that thronged Mucheke stadium. FC Wangu Mazodze spokesperson, Sukuoluhle Ndlovhu, expressed gratitude to their 12th man.  “Fans did come out in their numbers, the crowd was just something else! Despite it being a derby, this is a clear indication that the people of Masvingo love football and value it, this is why bringing back PSL to Masvingo is a necessity. Ironing out our differences is of vital importance. Imagine a huge crowd like that for a D1 match, what of when we bring back PSL? Fans wanted to witness the best team win and indeed the results spoke!”

The same sentiments were also echoed by Una Una spokesperson Omen Mafa who thanked their fans for rallying behind the club during good and bad times. “As Masvingo United family, we witnessed one the historic attendance in a division one soccer league when our fans came in numbers in our Sunday game. It confirmed that despite our position on the log, the community is still in love with Una Una. Without a doubt, we are the fourth most supported team in Zimbabwe after Dynamos, Highlanders, and Caps United. We want to thank our fans for the support,” said Mafa. Next weekend Masvingo United play away to Manica Diamonds Juniors while log leaders FC Wang Mazodze host Renco Mine FC.