IT’S BEEN A COCK­TAIL OF FURY AND THE UN­RULY, HATE AND THOSE HURT

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

MY­so­cial me­dia plat­forms are an ex­plo­sive in­ter­ac­tive arena, but I have to agree they have never ex­ploded, as far as I can re­mem­ber, as much as they have been rag­ing this week in the wake of that far­ci­cal de­ci­sion to try and nul­lify Chris­tian Epoupa Ntouba’s red card.

A de­ci­sion that trig­gered a seis­mic shock in do­mes­tic foot­ball, the kind of which could be mea­sured on the Richter Scale like an earthquake, and whose tremors are still rum­bling up to this day, stub­bornly re­fus­ing to be tamed by the pas­sage of time. Where do I start? Okay, ref­eree Arnold Ncube had a stinker of a game, no doubt about that, one of the worst per­for­mances I have seen in this big game, a man who was all at sea, over­whelmed by the oc­ca­sion he made a mock­ery of what match of­fi­ci­at­ing is all about.

Ntouba’s first-minute goal was scored from an off-side po­si­tion, the foul on Bosso for­ward God­frey Makaruse was a penalty, de­fender Ben­son Dube should have been sent off for slap­ping the Cameroo­nian, in an off-the-ball in­ci­dent, and that he ended up scor­ing his team’s goal, was ironic.

The Dy­namos for­ward was roughed up by the Bosso de­fend­ers, they came with a master­plan to stop him, us­ing both fair and foul means, but you can’t blame them be­cause it’s the job of the ref­eree to pick out such things and out­law them.

The Cameroo­nian is one hell of a good player, I like him a lot, but any­one who also tells me he doesn’t push the bound­aries of what is ac­cept­able, in terms of phys­i­cally bul­ly­ing his op­po­nents, to the very limit, will cer­tainly be ly­ing.

He is a mas­ter at rough­ing up his op­po­nents, sub­ject­ing them to a taste of his phys­i­cal prow­ess and cast­ing a spell on them, at times stretch­ing the bound­aries of the ac­cept­able, and it’s some­thing Bosso coach Erol Ak­bay must have picked and de­cided to fight fire with fire.

The bru­tal­ity of this game is that it has no place for those who take mat­ters into their hands and when Ntouba plunged his head into Peter Muduhwa the die was cast, the red card in­evitable and what­ever rough treat­ment he had re­ceived can­not be used as an al­ibi for that.

My Ar­se­nal col­leagues from a cer­tain era will re­mem­ber the “Bat­tle of the Buf­fet’’ on Oc­to­ber 24, 2004, when the Gun­ners ar­rived at Old Traf­ford on the back of a 49-game un­beaten run and with a new shin­ing star in their team, Jose An­to­nio Reyes.

Alex Ferguson de­vised a plan to rough him up, in­clud­ing some of the most bru­tal tack­les on a player in the era of the Premier­ship, Arsene Wenger had to with­draw him af­ter 70 min­utes for his own pro­tec­tion.

“Iden­ti­fy­ing Reyes as Ar­se­nal’s big­gest threat, Gary and Phil Neville set about ruth­lessly kick­ing him out of the game,’’ The Guardian news­pa­per’s Rob Smythe wrote. “It was bla­tant, out­ra­geous and vi­cious. The ref­eree did noth­ing. Reyes did even less, and Manch­ester United won 2-0.

“Scan­dalously, nei­ther Neville was sent off, and even­tu­ally the only player who left the pitch was the shell-shocked Reyes, sub­sti­tuted for his own good af­ter 70 min­utes. No match, no mat­ter how much of a mark it left on you (and Reyes had loads, the Nevilles made sure of that), can be that definitive.’’

Reyes never re­cov­ered from that trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence and a spe­cial tal­ent, spo­ken of in the same vein as King Henry when he ar­rived at Ar­se­nal, went to waste.

Against that back­ground, it’s dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why ZIFA rushed to plunge into the Ntouba case to the ex­tent of nul­li­fy­ing a red card, which the Cameroo­nian de­served, and which the ref­eree — for all his short­com­ings that day — was right to show him.

IN FOOT­BALL, JUST LIKE LIFE, TIM­ING IS EV­ERY­THING

The tim­ing of the chaotic way of han­dling this case couldn’t have been worse, es­pe­cially with the Harare Derby set for to­mor­row, against a CAPS United side who, to their eter­nal credit, re­spected the laws — whether they had been wronged or not be­com­ing ir­rel­e­vant — and didn’t ap­peal for Dominic Chungwa’s yel­low card at Cha­pungu to be nul­li­fied so that he could have played in the re­verse Derby.

Or Jus­tice Jangano’s ghost red card, given by a rookie ref­eree when the coun­try’s lead­ing match of­fi­cials were at­tend­ing a high-level FIFA course, which ruled the de­fender out of the first Derby and gave Ntouba the free­dom, which might prob­a­bly have been dif­fer­ent had Jus­tice been in the team, to score the two goals that de­cided that match.

The grav­ity of the rul­ing which ZIFA made on Mon­day is found in the way it feeds into a web of con­spir­acy that the As­so­ci­a­tion are try­ing to give DeMbare a help­ing hand, which these Glam­our Boys don’t need, es­pe­cially given the way they have gal­lantly fought for the big prize against all ex­pec­ta­tions, this sea­son.

My learned lawyer col­leagues will tell you that jus­tice must not only be done, but must also be seen to have been done and in the Ntouba case, you can’t say it was seen to have been done and ZIFA should not have dragged them­selves into a case which was only go­ing to at­tract con­tro­versy, rather than value, for them.

Whether they were do­ing it in good faith be­comes ir­rel­e­vant be­cause there was too much bag­gage, which was weigh­ing against such an in­ter­ven­tion and pro­nounce­ment, they should sim­ply have dis­missed that Dy­namos ap­peal on the ba­sis of pro­ce­dural flaws.

And, the fail­ure by the foot­ball au­thor­i­ties to also ad­dress is­sues, which went against Bosso that day, in­clud­ing a clear penalty that wasn’t given and the way the Bu­l­awayo gi­ants’ at­tacks — in the dy­ing stages — kept be­ing dis­rupted by balls thrown onto the field by the DeMbare bench, with none of the Glam­our Boys be­ing pun­ished for that, feeds into the con­spir­acy.

To ar­gue, as DeMbare did in their ill-ad­vised protest let­ter to ZIFA and not to the match com­mis­sioner, that Ntouba has a swollen face is at best laugh­able and, at worst, ridicu­lous.

Af­ter all, this is a game of con­tact where Ar­se­nal goal­keeper Petr Cech has been wear­ing a pro­tec­tive head gear for 11 years now since a col­li­sion with Read­ing’s Stephen Hunt in 2006, left him with a frac­tured skull.

Now, the con­spir­acy the­o­rists have been hav­ing a field day say­ing it’s not a co­in­ci­dence the ref­eree in the Derby ig­nored a foul on CAPS United’s John Zhuwawu in the penalty area, while the score was still 0-1 in favour of DeMbare, only to give Ocean Mushure a ghost free-kick af­ter a per­fect tackle from Moses Muchenje from which the Glam­our Boys skip­per swung in a beauty which Ntouba headed home for the in­sur­ance se­cond goal.

And they are say­ing it’s not a co­in­ci­dence Makaruse was de­nied a penalty on Sun­day when con­tact, in­side the box that af­ter­noon, was as clear as day and night.

There is a song called, “You Say It Best When You Say Noth­ing At All,’’ and it is preg­nant with a lot of mean­ing and ZIFA could have said it best this week, in their con­dem­na­tion of the poor ref­eree and how they deal with him, by say­ing noth­ing at all.

AND, AMID ALL THIS DRAMA, THE ANTI-CHIYANGWA BAND PLAYS ON

Clearly, with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, Philip Chiyangwa and his crew could have done bet­ter, far, far bet­ter, in all this with­out trig­ger­ing all the neg­a­tiv­ity we have seen this week.

And, as so of­ten hap­pens on our toxic land­scape, the re­gret­table events have opened a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity for those who have al­ways ar­gued that Chiyangwa has se­ri­ous lim­i­ta­tions — both as a per­son and as a leader, to be en­trusted with the huge re­spon­si­bil­ity to lead our na­tional foot­ball — to feast on the car­cass of the con­tro­versy.

They are al­ways there, wait­ing in the wings, bid­ding their time, wait­ing for a blun­der, a poor de­ci­sion, and when the War­riors win the COSAFA Cup, as was the case this year, they say it’s a de­vel­op­men­tal tour­na­ment and there is no need for wild cel­e­bra­tions to ac­com­pany such a tri­umph.

But, when the Young War­riors fail at the COSAFA Un­der-17 Cup, which is it­self a proper de­vel­op­ment tour­ney, as was the case this year, they say it’s a re­flec­tion of a failed lead­er­ship.

They will tell you he shouldn’t get credit for the War­riors 2017 AFCON fi­nals qual­i­fi­ca­tion, even though four of their six games — which in­cluded vic­to­ries of Swazi­land and Malawi to con­firm their place in Gabon — were played un­der his lead­er­ship.

The same peo­ple who, will tell you the War­riors’ qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2006 AFCON fi­nals was mas­ter­minded by Charles Mh­lauri, which is fair and fine, and con­ve­niently for­get the big con­tri­bu­tions made by Sun­day Chidzambwa, who started the cam­paign by elim­i­nat­ing Mau­ri­ta­nia be­fore hand­ing the baton to Rah­man Gumbo, whose men picked a big away point in Gabon, a big home point against Al­ge­ria, three big points away in Rwanda be­fore his ad­ven­ture was ended by a 0-3 home de­feat at the hands of Nige­ria.

They will tell you his liq­ui­da­tion of Tom Saint­fiet’s $180 000 debt which he in­her­ited, within a month of com­ing into of­fice, to en­sure the next gen­er­a­tion of War­riors would not be bur­dened by the sins of their lead­ers by be­ing barred from play­ing in the 2022 World Cup qual­i­fiers, is not a big deal.

The same peo­ple who watched from a dis­tance as the pre­vi­ous ZIFA lead­er­ship failed to pay $68 000 they owed Val­in­hos lead­ing to the ban­ish­ment of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of War­riors from play­ing in the 2018 World Cup qual­i­fiers.

Chiyangwa has a lot of peo­ple who just don’t like him, if not for his flashy life­style in which he ap­pears to sug­gest be­ing poor is a crime, then for a life lived in the pub­lic glare of online videos and self­ies or just sim­ply for his pol­i­tics which he never hides.

The same peo­ple who are ready to salute Bay­ern Mu­nich as a model of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, cel­e­brat­ing Uli Hoe­ness’ re-elec­tion as the Ger­man gi­ants’ pres­i­dent, with an over­whelm­ing 97 per­cent of the vote on Au­gust 8 last year, just six months af­ter walk­ing out of a Ger­man prison where he served a three-and-half prison term af­ter be­ing con­victed on seven se­ri­ous counts of tax eva­sion run­ning into $34 mil­lion.

They will tell you there is ev­ery­thing wrong in hav­ing a ZIFA pres­i­dent who once spent time in re­mand prison in a case he was even­tu­ally cleared.

The same peo­ple who will tell you SAFA pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan is their model foot­ball leader, claim­ing Chiyangwa rep­re­sents ev­ery­thing that is wrong when you mix foot­ball and politicians, con­ve­niently over­look­ing the fact that Jor­daan is an ANC heavy­weight who just two years ago was ap­pointed by the party to be the ex­ec­u­tive mayor of the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Metropoli­tan Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The same peo­ple who will hail Kalusha Bwalya as a per­fect model of a foot­ball leader, say­ing foot­ball and pol­i­tics should not mix, and con­ve­niently over­look­ing the re­al­ity that King Kalu was one of the lead­ing fig­ures who cam­paigned for Zam­bian Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu to win the last poll.

The same peo­ple who will say Ger­many, the World Cup, Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup and Euro Youth Cham­pi­ons, are ben­e­fit­ing from hav­ing an FA leader, Rein­hard Grindel, who isn’t a politi­cian, con­ve­niently over­look­ing the fact he used to be an MP for the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union, the party led by Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, and re­mains an in­flu­en­tial mem­ber of that party.

Yes, Chiyangwa is not a su­per­hu­man, he has cer­tain flaws — like ev­ery­one else — he makes blun­ders, in­clud­ing some big ones, like the Ntouba one, but that shouldn’t blind us from the re­al­ity he has done far more in con­vert­ing ZIFA into a work­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion again than a lot of his pre­de­ces­sors did in tre­ble the time he has been in of­fice.

THE MYTH ABOUT THE SO-CALLED FOOT­BALL PEO­PLE

Then, of course, there is that old-school con­stituency that al­ways ar­gues, aaaah­h­hhh, but he is not a foot­ball man, as if Ro­man Abramovich, whose ar­rival trans­formed Chelsea, has a trace­able his­tory in this game.

Amid the blitzkrieg of fury, hate, hurt, in­sults, jeers, tears of dis­be­lief, toxic mes­sages and even some claims that do­mes­tic foot­ball was now fac­ing its Ar­maged­don mo­ment, with the in­ter­net brigade in full re­bel­lion, the ray of light for me in all this dark­ness this week was pro­vided by an English­man l had never met. And, it seems, l will never meet. Pa­trick Clyne is the brave owner of Barnsley, an English foot­ball club which plays in the se­cond-tier Cham­pi­onship league and last sea­son they won two tro­phies at Wem­b­ley — the EFL Tro­phy and the Pro­mo­tion Play-Offs Tro­phy.

Clyne is ter­mi­nally ill and his fate is in the hands of a rag­ing can­cer that will soon end his flir­ta­tion with the world of the liv­ing and make him the next ad­di­tion to the world of the de­parted.

This week, Clyne wrote this mov­ing let­ter for his club’s pro­gramme for their EFL Cup se­cond round match against Derby which not only ques­tions the whole myth that only the so-called foot­ball peo­ple should be in charge of this game, but shows why we waste so much time pur­su­ing things that don’t mat­ter at all, driven by hate, while the world is mov­ing on.

“I am liv­ing on bor­rowed time. I live in pain, but liv­ing is bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive. Can­cer is in­sid­i­ous, cruel and ra­pa­cious and I im­plore ev­ery­one to have reg­u­lar checks to stop it gain­ing hold.

“Re­cent months have brought into fo­cus the things that are im­por­tant to me. I have spent a lot of my life pur­su­ing the ul­ti­mately point­less when there were bet­ter things to do. My fam­ily have al­ways been im­por­tant to me but I should have spent more time telling them so.

“I do now and it cre­ates joy­ful­ness in our re­la­tion­ships.

“Of course, my foot­ball club has been im­por­tant, too, and I am lucky that my fam­ily have shared my love of Barnsley FC.

“For much of the time since I be­came the club’s buyer of last re­sort, I al­lowed oth­ers to run the club, fear­ing that I did not know enough to win the re­spect and sup­port of the ‘foot­ball peo­ple’. It is ironic, there­fore, that we en­joyed one of our most suc­cess­ful pe­ri­ods when I did take up the man­tle ending in two suc­cess­ful vis­its to Wem­b­ley.

“Maybe, one day, be­fore too long, I will tell the se­crets of how we did it. Cer­tainly, the whole club work­ing as one was in­stru­men­tal. I don’t know if we will ever re­peat the sense of to­geth­er­ness of that sea­son, which ex­tended also to the fans, their tol­er­ance and in­cred­i­ble sup­port.

“There are many things I wanted to achieve be­fore my cus­to­di­an­ship of our fab­u­lous team ended at the hand of the Grim Reaper. Of course, I wanted to see us get back to the Premier League and make some en­hance­ments to the iconic West Stand.

‘’On a per­sonal level, I wanted to bring back to­gether all the 1912 FA Cup fi­nal medals, but I only man­aged to re­trieve five.

“Most peo­ple re­alise I was a re­luc­tant cus­to­dian but what has made it bear­able, against the oc­ca­sional cru­elty of the in­ter­net world, is the kind­ness shown to me by so many fans on a per­sonal ba­sis.

“Peo­ple are not shy in com­ing for­ward and telling me they ap­pre­ci­ate my ef­forts, even if I have fallen short of their as­pi­ra­tions. I re­ceive many let­ters and cards from fans who share with me their mem­o­ries and best wishes. I am grate­ful to them all.

“Re­gard­ing this sea­son, I think we will get stronger as it goes on and our team gels, not un­like the dou­ble Wem­b­ley sea­son. I do not ex­pect to live to see the ul­ti­mate out­come, but I travel in hope. I wish you all a good foot­ball sea­son and thank you for your kind­ness down the years.”

So much for the myth about the so-called foot­ball peo­ple and their myth­i­cal king­dom.

To God Be The Glory Come on War­riors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Khamald­in­hoooooooooooooooooo! Text Feed­back — 0772545199 What­sApp Mes­sen­ger — 0772545199 Email — rob­sharuko@gmail.com Skype — sharuko58 Chat with me on Face­book, fol­low me on Twit­ter @Chakari­boy, in­ter­act with me on Viber or read my ma­te­rial in The South­ern Times or on www.sport­szone. co.zw. You can also in­ter­act with me on the in­for­ma­tive ZBC weekly tele­vi­sion foot­ball mag­a­zine pro­gramme, Game Plan, where I join the le­gendary Charles “CNN” Mabika and pro­ducer Craig “Mas­ter Craig’’ Kat­sande ev­ery Mon­day night at 21.15pm.

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