MSC dates Old Ge­or­gians

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Ray Bande Se­nior Sports Re­porter

MUTARE Sports Club has sur­prised ev­ery­one in­clud­ing them­selves with an out­stand­ing per­for­mance in the on­go­ing In­ter­city League that has charmed all neu­trals

Their cap­tain, Gideon ‘Chief’ Muyambo, be­lieves the team has what it takes to claim a place in the semi-fi­nal play­offs.

The In­ter­city League, for­merly Na­tional Rugby League, re­turned af­ter the lat­ter abruptly stopped due to lack of fund­ing in 2014.

Through their pol­ished per­for­mance which has seen them win­ning six of the seven matches they have played so far, the Mutare out­fit has con­vinced all and sundry that the east­ern bor­der city has a lot of un­tapped tal­ent in the game.

Shum­bas, as Mutare Sports Club are af­fec­tion­ately called, only lost one match to giants, Harare Sports Club.

Even though that de­feat was a heavy 51-3 loss, Mutare Sports Club Class of 2017 could still earn the em­pa­thy of neu­trals con­sid­er­ing the wider mar­gins that their pre­de­ces­sors in re­cent years have suf­fered at the hands of Harare Sports Club.

A Sables call up for three Mutare Sports Club play­ers — Leon Ti­zora, Quin­ton Deda and Ta­tenda Maunga — is am­ple ev­i­dence of the big im­pres­sion that Mutare Sports Club has made so far in the In­ter­city League, never mind the trio’s fail­ure to make the grade in the fi­nal squad trav­el­ling to Namibia to­mor­row (Satur­day).

“When we started off the sea­son we thought we could just fight to evade rel­e­ga­tion. That was our ini­tial aim. This must have been a re­sult of poor past per­for­mances. How­ever, af­ter re­al­is­ing that we could match the stan­dards we raised the bar. We are ac­tu­ally aim­ing at noth­ing less than a place in the semi-fi­nal play­offs.

“Yes, we are not safe from rel­e­ga­tion. We can still be rel­e­gated if we fail to main­tain our stan­dards and lose forth­com­ing matches, but our re­cent past per­for­mances give us rea­son to be­lieve that we can achieve a semi-fi­nal play­off place,” said Muyambo.

Nick­named Chief, per­haps ow­ing to ex­cep­tional lead­er­ship qual­i­ties on the pitch that earned him the cap­tain’s arm­band, Muyambo be­lieves they have noth­ing, but pride to fight for when they face Old Ge­or­gians in Harare to­mor­row.

“We are ob­vi­ously com­ing into this week­end’s match as un­der­dogs be­cause ev­ery­one knows Old Ge­or­gians are cur­rently the log lead­ers and have been ruth­less. That means the pres­sure is on them to main­tain that sta­tus.

“We have noth­ing, but pride to play for. That does not mean we are go­ing there an­tic­i­pat­ing a de­feat. We will give it our all and hope­fully comes with a re­sult that ce­ments our newly found sta­tus as a team that is ca­pa­ble of stand­ing the heat in the league,” he added.

The In­ter­city League has 11 teams that in­clude, MSC, Harare Sports Club (HSC), Gweru Sports Club (GSC), Old Mil­to­ni­ans (OMS), Old Harar­i­ans (OH), Old Ge­or­gians (OGS), Old Jo­han­ni­ans (OJS), High­landers for­merly Western Pan­thers (WP), Mata­bele­land Warriors (MW), Police De­fend­ers (PD) and Police Bull­dogs (PB).

The teams will play each other twice with the top four teams mak­ing it through to the semi-fi­nals and win­ners to the fi­nals.

The win­ners will par­tic­i­pate in the Gold Cup in South Africa on in­vi­ta­tion ba­sis.

The league will be played over 24 weeks, 22 weeks of round robin and a week of semi-fi­nals and the fi­nals week.

At the end of the sea­son, the three bot­tom placed teams will be rel­e­gated.

The rel­e­gated teams will take part in the pro­posed In­ter­city Di­vi­sion Two league, a pre­serve for stand­alone clubs and this league will be the feeder league for the flag­ship In­ter­city League.

All teams that have sec­ond teams will take part in their re­spec­tive pro­vin­cial de­vel­op­ment leagues.

The ini­tial plan was that the 2017 sea­son will again see the re­vival of the in­ter-pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tion to be run over a week­end in June, but lack of funds seems to have mil­i­tated against the idea.

Shum­bas pose for a team photo just be­fore their re­cent out­ing against Old Harar­i­ans in Harare

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