2018 in ret­ro­spect

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

THE year 2018 comes to an end on Mon­day, paving way for a po­ten­tially ex­cit­ing 2019 in the sports fra­ter­nity where the coun­try’s best sup­ported na­tional team - the War­riors are on the cusp of qual­i­fy­ing for the Africa Cup of Na­tions while folks in Mutare are set to en­joy Premier­ship foot­ball once again, thanks to the pro­mo­tion of a hugely promis­ing pro­ject - Man­ica Di­a­monds.

Post Sport looks back to some of the events that dom­i­nated head­lines in 2018.

War­riors’ hunt for Af­con ticket

con­tin­ues

The coun­try’s se­nior men’s na­tional team con­tin­ued with their im­pres­sive start to the 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions cam­paign but some­how faced a glitch when they lost to Liberia. Zim­babwe’s War­riors con­spired to miss a glut of chances that de­railed their march towards the 2019 African Cup of Na­tions and left the na­tion guess­ing about their chances of qual­i­fy­ing.

This came after Sun­day Chidzambwa’s men sur­ren­dered their un­beaten run in Group G in a match in which they largely dom­i­nated and just needed a draw to be­come the 11th team to se­cure their place at the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece. Now the War­riors would have to do it the harder way in which they would have to avoid any er­rors against Congo in the fi­nal qual­i­fier at home in March next year.

Tan­ganda, Old Mu­tual Vumba

races held

Mutare played host to some of the na­tion’s pres­ti­gious long dis­tance races - the Old Mu­tual Vumba Half Marathon as well as the Tan­ganda Half Marathon moun­tain run com­pe­ti­tions.

A record 1 000 ath­letes com­peted at the sev­enth edi­tion of the Old Mu­tual Vumba 21km Marathon that was won by Canis­cious Nya­mut­sita and Rudo Mhondirwa in the men and women’s cat­e­gories re­spec­tively. Nya­mut­sita touched the rib­bon in 1 hour 10 min­utes and 49 sec­onds, while Mhondirwa dom­i­nated the fe­male cat­e­gory after post­ing a good time of 1.23.21

They were re­warded with a cash prize of $1 500 each. Un­her­alded Ta­tenda Hove was the first run­ner-up and Mun­yaradzi Jari was the se­cond run­ner-up in the male cat­e­gory.

Caro­line Mandu was the first run­ner-up and Bertha Chikanga was the se­cond run­ner-up in the fe­male cat­e­gory. In 2017, al­most 800 ath­letes par­tic­i­pated in the event which is re­garded as one of the tough­est marathons in the coun­try due to the ter­rain.

Sakubva Sta­dium woes rage on The sad story of long drag­ging ren­o­va­tions at Sakubva Sta­dium per­sists. Ren­o­va­tions at Sakubva Sta­dium, a 2018 Mutare City Coun­cil (MCC) pro­ject that failed to get cor­po­rate part­ner­ship from Chi­adzwa di­a­mond min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties as largely ex­pected, will now eat into the 2019 bud­get with con­struc­tion works drag­ging longer than pro­jected. Sakubva Sta­dium has been closed for ren­o­va­tions since early this year.

Ini­tially, Mutare City Coun­cil had pro­jected to com­plete the ren­o­va­tions by the end of Oc­to­ber, but slow pace of works ow­ing to lim­ited avail­abil­ity of hu­man and ma­te­rial re­sources de­railed the plans.

Mutare Mayor Bless­ing Tandi, who cited the cur­rent price mad­ness on the mar­ket as an­other fac­tor that af­fected progress, re­cently said they are now ex­pect­ing to fin­ish the pre­cast wall con­struc­tion by end of Feb­ru­ary.

Exit Mutare City Rovers, en­ter

Man­ica Di­a­monds

If the bad news is that Mutare City Rovers were once again rel­e­gated from the top flight league, then the good news is that Man­ica Di­a­monds were pro­moted into the Premier­ship. Mutare City Rovers were rel­e­gated from the Cas­tle Lager Premier Soc­cer League after they lost to Tri­an­gle in a match played at Gibbo Sta­dium towards the end of the sea­son.

Rovers went into that match with the faintest of hope of sur­vival, and their fate was sealed with three matches still to be played. Rovers joined Sha­banie Mine who were the first to be rel­e­gated and Nichrut as well as Bulawayo City.

Rover’s in­terim gaffer Ndega Mat­sika, how­ever, promised a quick re­turn to the topflight league.

“The per­for­mance was very good. We are rel­e­gated now but we are go­ing to make a quick re­turn to the Premier League and we are go­ing to come back a stronger side,” he said

Rovers en­dured a tough sea­son where they man­aged just five wins from 31 matches and for the greater part of the cam­paign, they have barely looked like they would lift them­selves out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone. None­the­less, Man­ica Di­a­monds come in as a re­place­ment for Mutare City Rovers in the Premier­ship.

That Man­ica Di­a­monds ap­pear bet­ter fi­nanced than City Rovers gives hope to foot­ball fans in Mutare for bet­ter days ahead.

Nor­man Mapeza does it again As ex­pected, FC Plat­inum con­firmed their dom­i­nance of the lo­cal league by lift­ing their se­cond straight Cas­tle Lager Premier­ship ti­tle on the fi­nal day of the sea­son with a rou­tine win over rel­e­gated Sha­banie Mine in the Zvisha­vane derby at Ma­glas Sta­dium. Need­ing just to avoid a de­feat to be crowned cham­pi­ons against their num­ber one en­emy, glory was never in doubt for this swash­buck­ling side coached by Nor­man Mapeza.

The trend-set­ting plat­inum min­ers be­came the first team out­side the Harare and Bulawayo stran­gle­hold to win two con­sec­u­tive Premier League ti­tles.

They also gate­crashed into the elite group of clubs to have suc­cess­fully de­fended the ti­tle. The group has Dy­namos, Caps United and High­landers.

To date, FC Plat­inum has added an­other feather by be­com­ing the only team out­side Harare and Bulawayo to reach the group stages of the com­pet­i­tive Caf Cham­pi­ons League. Kirsty Coven­try ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Sport

Kirsty Coven­try, a for­mer Olympic cham­pion and a cur­rent mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC’s) ex­ec­u­tive board, was this year ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Sport in Zim­babwe.

Her ap­point­ment charmed many in­clud­ing for­mer Zim­babwe cricket cap­tain Ta­tenda Taibu

“She is a sportsper­son and knows about sport, be­ing a per­son who has been there and done it,” Taibu said.

“I know her per­son­ally and I know that her heart is in the right place.”

The 34-year-old Coven­try was vice-pres­i­dent of the Zim­babwe Olympic Com­mit­tee. She also chairs the IOC’s ath­letes’ com­mis­sion.

She was ap­pointed to cab­i­net by Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa as Min­is­ter of Youth, Sports, Art and Recre­ation.

Coven­try won gold medals in the 200m back­stroke at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and also has four sil­vers and a bronze, the most Olympic medals by an African ath­lete.

She shares the record of most in­di­vid­ual medals by a fe­male swim­mer at the Olympics with Krisztina Eger­szegi of Hun­gary.

Coven­try re­tired after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games - her fifth Olympics - hav­ing won seven of Zim­babwe’s eight all-time medals. The other was gold by the women’s field hockey team at the boy­cotted 1980 Mos­cow Games. Coven­try is known as the coun­try’s “golden girl” for her Olympic suc­cess and was given $100 000 by then Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe after win­ning four medals at the 2008 Bei­jing Games, a huge prize for a Zim­bab­wean ath­lete. She gave the ma­jor­ity of the money to char­ity.

Chevrons, Moun­taineers

mo­ment of glory Eastern re­gion cricket fran­chise Moun­taineers have al­ready be­gun to pur­sue the third first-class ti­tle in a row as they be­gin their Lo­gan Cup de­fence.

After re­tain­ing the Lo­gan Cup and reach­ing the Pro50 Cham­pi­onship fi­nal last sea­son for the re­cent 2017-2018 sea­son, Moun­taineers have al­ready be­gun the 2018-19 cam­paign as the favourites for both ti­tles.

In fact, Moun­taineers coach Shep­herd Makunura has made it clear that the Mutare-based out­fit have clear in­ten­tions to de­fend their ti­tle. The other ma­jor suc­cess story in the gentle­men’s game came with Zim­babwe’s his­toric tri­umph against Bangladesh which man­aged to charm the hearts and minds of many in­clud­ing the new Moun­taineers gen­eral man­ager Won­der Chisango who cred­ited the team for hard work and ded­i­ca­tion.

Chisango was ap­pointed the Moun­taineers gen­eral man­ager fol­low­ing the on­go­ing re­struc­tur­ing within the Zim­babwe Cricket (ZC).

“The Chevrons win is ac­tu­ally a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment for us as Moun­taineers since we had some of our play­ers in the start­ing line up. I think they made the whole na­tion proud by win­ning that test match away from home after 17 years. This is an achieve­ment that de­serves to be cel­e­brated by ev­ery pro­gres­sive Zim­bab­wean. We sin­cerely hope that they will be able to build from that and get more ac­co­lades in the fu­ture,” he said.

Zim­babwe thumped Bangladesh by 151 runs in the north-eastern city of Syl­het to claim their first away Test win in 17 years in one of the ma­jor achieve­ments of the year 2018.

Post Sport wishes its read­ers, sports­men and fans a suc­cess­ful 2019 sport­ing sea­son!

Ndega Mat­sika

Nor­man Mapeza

Kirsty Coven­try

Won­der Chisango

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