My heart bleeds for Hwange – Zulu

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ngqwele Dube Sports Cor­re­spon­dent

BOTSWANA-based for­mer Hwange Col­liery FC mid­fielder, Fabian Zulu feels dump­ing tra­di­tion at the club could lead to the demise of the side which has been strug­gling in re­cent years.

Zulu, who has a num­ber of caps with na­tional teams, said the Pre­mier­ship side has al­ways been the fort of lo­cals hence it has man­aged to pro­pel sev­eral play­ers from the area into star­dom. He said his heart bleeds to see the team that gave him fame, seem­ingly head­ing for the dol­drums.

Hwange’s for­tunes have dipped in re­cent years and the team has been fight­ing for rel­e­ga­tion in­stead of fight­ing for the ti­tle. A strug­gling Hwange Col­liery Com­pany has found it dif­fi­cult to sus­tain the team with mem­bers of the squad go­ing un­paid for sev­eral months, a fate that be­fell all of the coal min­ing com­pany’s work­ers.

De­par­ture of sev­eral play­ers be­fore the be­gin­ning of the 2017 sea­son and lack of funds to bring in new am­mu­ni­tion saw the side be­come one of the strug­glers in the Pre­mier­ship post­ing in­con­sis­tent re­sults.

Zulu, who is tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sor at Pre­mier­ship side Not­wane FC in Botswana, be­lieves man­age­ment should have given sup­port to the Na­tion Dube-led tech­ni­cal depart­ment that was shown the exit in July rather than re­mov­ing them from power.

“I don’t think it was be­cause of in­com­pe­tence but rather lack of qual­ity play­ers in the squad. Play­ers left and they were not re­placed. We need a sup­port sys­tem that would en­sure there are re­serves of tal­ent that can play at the top level,” he said.

Zulu, who moved to Botswana in 1994, said there was need to nur­ture feeder teams for Hwange as was the norm in pre­vi­ous years, al­low­ing ease of tap­ping of tal­ent.

He re­vealed he made it into the se­nior team when he was still at school along with Zacheu Zulu, God­frey Tamirepi and La­ban Ngoma. Zulu said there seemed to be less foot­ball ac­tion at lower lev­els to en­sure more young­sters are play­ing foot­ball.

“I think another miss­ing link is the Wankie Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion be­cause the abun­dance of teams meant more play­ers be­ing de­vel­oped and fu­ture stars would emerge from there. Tal­ented boys would be re­cruited while still at school and I do not know why that is not hap­pen­ing any­more, we need to bring back that tal­ent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion be­cause Hwange has al­ways thrived on lo­cal play­ers,” he said from his Gaborone base.

He said he was wor­ried by bring­ing in an “out­sider” as a coach would alien­ate sup­port­ers who un­der­stand the team’s tra­di­tion. Col­liery man­age­ment roped in Big­boy Mawiwi to take over from Dube but for­tunes are hardly chang­ing.

The coal min­ing side is cur­rently third from bot­tom on the league and could be play­ing in Di­vi­sion One next year if they don’t im­prove their per­for­mance.

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