Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dynamos to meet its clone in African Safari

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Stade de la Kenya Stadium will be the theatre of a potentially attention-grabbing clash when Harare giants, Dynamos, clash with what appears its pale shadow in the 2010 Caf Champions League first round match, set for the weekend of March 19-21.
Dynamos who received a bye in the preliminary round due to their impressive performance in the previous competitions will load its ammunition in preparation of the first battle against DRC’s FC Lupopo.
Their opponents signed four of their former players at the beginning of this year.
FC Lupopo who dismissed Tanzania’s Young Africans on a 4-2 aggregate, in the preliminary round, will field former Glamour Boys, goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura, speedy forward Philip Marufu, midfielders Carrington Gomba and Mutshumayeli Moyo.
Marufu and Gomba scored a goal each when their new team dismissed Young Africans 3-2 in the first leg of the preliminary round match, in Zanzibar.
Gomba and his countrymen are bound to easily shackle off the pressure that comes with playing at such high level of competition with their knowledge of their opponents. Gomba last month hinted he would assist FC Lupopo draw a game plan that will make an ambush on the Harare giants.
DeMbare proved a strong force to consider in Africa when they reached the semi-finals under the guidance of former head coach, David Mandigora, in the 2008 edition of the showdown.
They missed the continental club competition last year after losing the local league championship title to Monomotapa, having failed to sustain the pressure that came with defending their title at home and impressing in Africa.
But their comeback into the jungles of African football has come with much anticipation for good results as the club’s followers expect another big fight.
“We will not talk of FC Lupopo because it is going to be a walk over despite them having some of our former players. We just want to start from where we left last year, get to the finals and make the 1998 dream a reality. We no longer want to be the best losers but simply the best,” said a Dynamos fan, Tafadzwa Muzara.
Dynamos reached the finals of the 1998 showcase to lose to Cote d’Voire’s Asec Mimosas.
Elvis Chiweshe understands the pressure his charges will be under to rise to the expectations of the team’s followers.
“It is because of the standards set by former players that Dynamos get an identity of a team that should not be beaten. While players will do their best to maintain those standards, fans should also learn to accept that there is a draw and loss that comes not because the team wishes,” said Chiweshe.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Minority sports continue to excel


The country’s minority sports such as karate, motorsport, tennis, swimming, BMX, triathlon and athletics, has for long lived under the discrimination of spectators as most Zimbabweans shy away from their fields.
But the lack of a full-house support as seen at football matches around the world has never dragged down the different sportsmen and sportswomen from doing what they know best and they will continue to be inspired this year after dominating the Annual National Sports Awards, last month.
Swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry, kyokushinkaikan karate icon Samson Muripo, Motorsport racer, Jamie White, tennis ace Cara Black, long distance runner Stephen Muzhingi and Sharon Tawengwa will be continue to aim high after proving to be experts in their fields.
Promising motorsport racer, Axcil Jefferies, swimming champion James Lawson and young tennis idol, Takanyi Garan’anga must have walked to the podium to receive an award for great sporting ability as a Junior Sportsman of the Year with great pride.
Andrea Brown {triathlon), Tyla-Shae Davidson (BMX) and swimmer Samatha Welch lined up for the Junior Sportswoman of the year.
These youngsters together with their seniors have not only made names for themselves for receiving a medal or more, at the continental and international arena, but they have brought honor not only to their country but also to their different sports.
In such a country as Japan where the European country is well known for their martial art sport, karate, Zimbabwe will be remembered for producing the first African world champion in the form of a zealous fighter, sensei Muripo.
The third dan black belt karate teacher impressively knocked down experienced international karatekas to win the big award, last June.
Coventry has over the years registered the country on the world map to maintain her status as an epitome of success in the waters of sporting circles.
At a young age of 15, Jefferies who dreams of becoming “the youngest Formula One champion” has made a mark in motorsport racing circuits not only by winning the Malaysia GP race but proving a force to reckon with in Singapore and Japan.
Out of his expectations, long distance runner, Muzhingi, was not awarded with a whooping $US100 000 by the government, like was the case with Kirsty Coventry, in 2008, but the 2009 ANSA under the category, sportsman of the year, honored his achievement as the winner of the comrades Marathon in South Africa.
The world rankings of the women’s tennis doubles have seen Zimbabwe’s Black hogging the limelight ahead of renowned tennis heavyweights, the William sisters (Venus and Serena).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Spare a thought for Togo Rushwaya

As Togo was still mourning their three team members who were murdered in a gunfire attack in Angola a week before the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Henrietta Rushwaya, had a finger crossed hoping her country receives the gesture to replace Angola as the host of the continental show.
It was the night before the AFCON opening ceremony in Angola with Togo still considering pulling out of the tournament that Rushwaya was quoted in the local press expressing her wishes to host the tournament.
““We are able to organise the African Cup of Nations should we be requested at short notice to host it. Remember we are just coming out of the successful Cosafa Senior Challenge in which we hosted 13 countries,’’ she told The Sunday Mail.
“The main part of the work that was needed at the National Sports Stadium has already been completed and what remain are just the finer details of the dug-out but that is overnight work. So we can manage to step in should we be asked to.”
As if that was not enough a display of desperation, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Walter Mzembi, went on to comment that the Zimbabwe national team, will be ready to replace Togo in the soccer showpiece boasting of winning the Cosafa Senior Challenge, last year.
“We commiserate with the emissaries of Togo and Angola on the loss of life and injury to some that occurred and we feel our team, as winners of the Cosafa Senior Challenge, is in good shape to stun their opponents and even win the cup,” he said.
Despite the Warriors winning the regional showcase convincingly after beating Zambia 3-1 in the final, Harare based football enthusiasts Bezel Chitaitai expressed disbelief in the minister and Zifa boss’ comments.
“The tournament was never considered as a qualifier to the continental showdown or any tournament for that matter. It was the same team that was beaten at the Cecafa tournament and for someone of such a noble position to talk of them replacing a team at AFCON is so disturbing,” he said.
“And someone at Zifa house is already playing her cards that Angola be cancelled as the host. Why would CAF be so stupid to bring such a high profile tournament to a country with only two stadiums? Rufaro and Barbourfields may not even make the grade to host AFCON, zviroto zviroto vakomana (dreams should remain dreams gentlemen) Rushwaya must spare a thought for Togo.”

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Muripo's road to stardom


In one of Zimbabwe’s martial art sports, kyokushin karate, 2010 will present the reigning sports person of the year award winner with a challenge of maintaining a world championship title at a tournament to be held in Japan, in April.
The first African world middleweight champion, sensei (teacher) Samson Muripo, has begun his preparations for the high profile international full-contact karate knockdown with fear of defeat.
“It’s not an easy task at all to go and compete with the Japanese in their backyard and come back a happy sportsperson,” said Muripo.
“I have been there, the 30 Men kumite (fight) during my grading to third dan was the biggest challenge of my life I will never forget. They (karatekas) almost separated my body and its spirit and to think that in the coming international tournament I will pass through Japanese and other top fighters from other countries remind me of the big task at hand.”
Muripo, who revealed his dream of becoming “the Oishi of Zimbabwe” in an interview with The Zimbabwean, last May, spent the rest of 2009 cementing a concrete foundation for his vision.
Shihan (Master) Daigo Oishi is a well respected karate guru who owns 105 dojos (clubs) with more than 105 instructors, in the sport’s founding country, Japan.
The Japanese Shihan is one of the Kyokushin karate icons who have not only inspired Muripo but many young fighters in his country and beyond.
Despite being two levels away from reaching the martial art sport master’s fifth dan black belt, Muripo has already carved his name in Zimbabwe’s annals of sporting history.
With his commendable achievements in 2009, Muripo has brought to the limelight a sport once considered a minority activity that had less recognition in the media and the people of Zimbabwe.
His name will be engraved on the sportsperson of the year floating cup alongside such great names as swimming sensation, Kirsty Coventry, tennis ace Cara Black, cricket icon Andrew Flower and soccer star Benjani Mwaruwari.
“2009 made the impossible possible. I never had such a dream of becoming a world champion from my tender ages back in Chimanimani; storming the world? No, not me. But here I am, Zimbabwe’s Sportsman and Sportsperson of the year,” he said.
“It is all thanks to Hanshi Oishi in coalition with Shihan Bas van Stenis, Shihan Roel Wildeboer, my local sponsors Arosume Property Development, Homegate Furnishers and Fashion, AlcatraZ Fashions, Mazowe Garden Plaza T/A Nakas Cuisine and Stone Fields Mining.”
Though seemingly quiet, shy and vulnerable at first sight, the 31-year-old world champion inspires many when he steps on the tatami (mat where karatekas fight) and he confirms it; one certainly needs not to be bouncer to win a fight in full-contact karate.
It all started in 1993 at Chimanimani’s Ndima Secondary School when then a Form One student, Muripo and his friends were banned from the soccer club for damaging the school’s footballs to join a newly formed karate club.
He was graded to brown belt in 2000 before his first dan black belt in 2004, with second dan the following year. His third dan black belt was graded in 2007, in Japan after a blazing 30-men fight.
Despite grading to his fourth dan black belt level, sensei Muripo aspires to take Zimbababwe’s future in karate to dizzy heights.
“I hope 2010 is a year of great wonders, the expansion of my territory so that I can reach every inspired young ones in every province of Zimbabwe and triumph across the globe with opportunities available,” said Muripo.
“But this is not an easy job, I hope Kyokushin Union Zimbabwe with the support of the corporate world and the government at large, will be able to establish Karate Academy, registered with the relevant ministry so that many Zimbabwean youths may come and learn the awesome martial art sport. I dream of an academy of Japanese standards.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monoz: A cunning fox?

Zimbabwean champions, Monomotapa, travelled to Malaysia for a friendly match against their hosts’ national team, last Sunday, to be beaten 4-0, as they prepare for their MTN Caf Champions League tie against Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel, this weekend.
It has emerged Monoz duped Malaysia into believing they were playing a national team, Zimbabwe, as reports from Malaysia flashed headlines of a youthful side beating the Warriors of Zimbabwe.
It was a good challenge for Monoz who are preparing for a tough assignment in the African Safari. But a burden for the Malaysians who had previously refuted to host Liberia because they were not in a position to send their national side for the FIFA recognized international friendly.
Zifa have since been criticized for passing the league champions to travel as the national team, as much as the Malaysian soccer board will face criticism from their fans for not checking the truth about their opponents as they did with Liberia.
“Just because there was FIFA recognition does not mean both teams are obliged to field their 'best' teams,” said a football fan from Malaysia.
“Zimbabwe could easily use the excuse that they are trying out some new faces. As for Malaysia, they simply didn't exercise due diligence in checking on their opponent, hardly a FIFA-punishable offence -although admittedly hilariously stupid.”
Although some reports from Malaysia have recognized Monomotapa as the premiership champions representing Zimbabwe, the Malaysia football governing board made it clear that they were duped into believing Zimbabwe sent a national team.
FAM's Datuk Azzudin Ahmad said, “as far as we are concerned it is the Zimbabwe national team. The acceptance letter even bore the letterhead of their national association (ZIFA).”
Zifa CEO Henrietta Rushwaya told The Zimbabwean she was on leave at the time Monoz travelled to Malaysia. But Malaysia’s media organization, Mailsport, learnt that Rushwaya, in both a letter and an email to FAM, confirmed that Zimbabwe would be sending their national team.
The misrepresentation was said to have costed FAM a bomb, according to some reports in Malaysia. Flight tickets from Harare to Singapore for the team of 20 were estimated at about RM200, 000. The bus ride from Singapore to KL is about RM1,200, thus making it RM2,400 for a return journey. The team stayed at a hotel. The stimulus room package sees a double occupancy room costing RM280 per night. That translates to RM11,200 for 10 rooms over four nights. So, this would have cost FAM about RM215,000.
But FAM has denied having funded for Monomotapa’s expenses while ZIFA continue to claim that the Malaysian football board has taken care of Monoz. The trip has a lot of questions as it is yet to be established who funded the league champions’ tour.
Monoz were in a desperate situation in need of a challenging friendly match as they prepare for their continental encounter, on Sunday (July 19), had everything to benefit despite losing a humiliating 0-4 defeat, away from home.
It was a good experience for the reigning league champions. But it is yet to be established if Monoz who played in the national colors, connived with Zifa to trick Malaysia or they innocently represented the inactive national team with FAM’s knowledge.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Off the field with Willard Katsande

Former Highway midfielder Willard Katsande (pictured)- who changed camps to join Gunners FC during the midseason break -- told The Zimbabwean on Sunday’s Grace Chirumanzu in an interview last week of his burning ambition to be among the best on the local scene and to, hopefully, one day make a break into one of the big leagues abroad. Excerpts:

Grace Chirumanzu (GC): The first question obviously is about that incident when you were still with Highway and you were playing Dynamos when a group of DeMbare supporters threw some traditional snuff at you. What really was that all about?
Willard Katsande (WK): They had this crazy idea that I was using juju and all of a sudden they threw that stuff on my face. But I was never affected by what they did during the match and I continued to give my best performance. I have put it behind me and it has not affected my perception of Dynamos as a team.
GC: Why did you leave Highway for Gunners?
WK: They (Gunners) were impressed by my performance and they approached me and I chose to join them. I also received offers from Dynamos and Caps United but I chose Gunners because I like the fact that they are supportive of players who are fortunate to make the grade at bigger foreign clubs. I had no problems with Highway, I respect Highway because they made me into who I am today. It was when I was with Highway when I made my premiership debut, this year.
GC: What will you miss most about Highway?
WK: It was like family, there was no element of looking down upon each other and the club officials were so organized.
GC: The two weeks you have had to adapt and fit into the playing style of your new team seem so short, tell us, how has been the going so far?
WK: I believe the two weeks I have had are quite adequate. The players have welcomed me well and I think I will make a good combination with Ramson (Zhuwawo).
GC: And on the soccer pitch, which player would you say is or has been your toughest opponent this season?
WK: I would think it is Lionel Mtizwa of Caps United who gave me the toughest time in game we played them when I was still with Highway. We lost the match 1-0.
GC: How about the game in general, what misgivings do you have about the local game?
WK: It should be understood that the local game does not pay that much and soccer players can never really dream of buying fancy houses and cars after retiring from playing football. Maybe one day it will change for the better. It would be unfortunate were things to be allowed to continue the way they are.
GC: Who is your favourite local player?
WK: Highway captain Hebron Mukukutu. He is good. I used to watch him play when I was still playing in Mutare’s division 2 league and never thought I would one day play alongside him in the same team.

Fact File

Full names :Willard Katsande

D.O.B :15 January 1987

P.O.B :Mutoko

Nickname :Bute

Jersey number :17

Position :Central midfielder

Previous Clubs :Frontier Steel (2002-05), Feruka (2006-07), Highway (2007-09)

Current Club :Gunners

Zim hopes to upstage Tigers

HARARE – Zimbabwe national cricket captain Prosper Utseya (pictured)hopes his side will dig deep into their reserves to upstage Bangladesh in the five One Day International series set for August 7-19, at Bulawayo’s Queens Sports Club.

Zimbabwe face Bangladesh or the Tigers, as they known, after a six-month drought of international action, having last played Kenya in February.

Utseya acknowledged that the lack of international experience will continue to handicap the southern Africans but hoped their participation in the local league will give them the much needed match fitness.

“Of course we are lacking international experience but we have been playing a lot of competitive local games in the Logan Cup and also the Twenty20 and that should help us in match fitness,” said Utseya.

“This is our second net session in the 2009/2010 season and the boys look fit for the match. By next week (this week) we will be starting training more as a team and we have enough time to work on different areas of the game.”

Queens Sports Club has not been a favourite hunting ground for Zimbabwe. Statistics show that they have in recent years won more matches at Harare Sports Club than Queens, in Bulawayo. While recognising that the Bulawayo wicket has not been favorable to the team, Utseya pointed out that “we won most of our games here at Harare Sports Club because most of the players are from Harare and are accustomed to the wicket here”

Asked whether he was not worried of being visitors on their own pitch when they take on Bangladesh at Queens in all the five matches, Utseya told The Zimbabwean on Sunday that it will be an advantage to play the Tigers there.

“The ball turns as much at Queens and it will be better for us to play their (Bangladesh) spinners there,” he said.

The Zimbabwe skipper, who was part of the 2004-2005 side that used to give Bangladesh torrid times on the crease, said he did not envy the Tigers, who have since moved one place ahead of Zimbabwe on the International Cricket Council rankings. Bangladesh is ranked number eight ahead of ninth placed Zimbabwe.

“Bangladesh’s structures have produced a wide base of players for national team selection; unlike us they haven’t lost a number of players to other countries. That has been our biggest challenge; I think we have lost about three teams in a space of four years. They have greatly improved and gained the much needed experience as a team,” said the off-spinner.

Glamour Boys continue to shine


Former league champions, Dynamos, are sailing with determination towards the 2009 championship title removing all skepticism of their quest to reclaim their pride lost to Monomotapa, last season.
A 4-0 victory over struggling Beitbridge side, Underhill, at Rufaro stadium was enough evidence that DeMbare will not be out for any compromise, which will put them under pressure of claiming the title, come end of season.
But the pressure appears inevitable and will not be shaken off just by their winning streak alone, as a stubborn second placed Gunners continue to keep track of them, with victories each week.
Moses Chunga’s charges have remained consistent in the race for the prestigious title, giving Bambo all the reason to boasts of his side.
They beat Bulawayo giants, Highlanders, 1-0 in week 16 of the top flight football at Gwanzura stadium, last Saturday. Their newboy, Willard Katsande, acquired from Highway displayed some entertaining football the rest of the afternoon together with midfielder Tapiwa Mangezi and Ramson Zhuwawo.
Zhuwawo scored the solitary goal that rapped a bad week for the Bosso team, which was still mourning the death of their junior coach and former player, Themba Nkiwane.
Goalkeeper, Tafadzwa Dube, must have frustrated Bosso strikers who did all they could to attack for an equalizer as he continued to Gunners’ goal brilliantly, the rest of the afternoon.
Gunners are four points behind the league leaders and if both teams are not to drop points any time soon, Bambo and his charges will need to keep their winning form until week 29, when they face Elvis Chiweshe and his charges.
But for now, any compromising performance of the top two teams will see them lose their position to other competing teams, which will certainly not be left out in the battle for honors.
Caps United won 1-0 against Hwange at the Colliery, as the three points guaranteed them a third place ahead of Lengthens who were into a goalless draw against Black Rhinos.
Former Kiglon captain, Tawanda Nyamandwe, announced his arrival at Caps United with a goal that gave Lloyd Chitembwe’s team a good toss for the long tiresome journey back to the capital, from Hwange.
Their former player, Limited Chikafa, turned out for Shooting Stars, last weekend as his new side won 1-0 against Kiglon.
Reigning champions, Monomotapa, appear to be losing hope of successfully defending their title. They appear to be shifting their attention more to the African safari as their performance together with their position on the log table give much skepticism than confidence that they will successfully defend their title, this year.
They did not fulfill their week 16 fixture, against Highway last weekend as they travelled to Malaysia for some friendly matches, in preparation of their MTN Champions league match against, Etoile Du Sahel, in Harare, this weekend.
Psl secretary general, Kennedy Ndebele, revealed that they did not give them the green-light to skip their match and so Highway may be lucky to be awarded the three points.
Motor Action saw their twelfth draw of the season against Eagles, in a goalless encounter both coaches, Jostein Mathuthu (Motor Action) and Bigboy Mawiwi (Eagles) were out to give their new sides a taste of victory. Bantu Rovers won 2-0 against Njube Sundowns, at Barbourfields stadium.

Muripo kick the power out of World top fighters

WORLD CHAMPION... Third dan black belt Zimabwean karateka, Sensei Samson Muripo (middle) won the World middleweight championship title, in Osaka Japan, on June 30. Shihan (Master) Bas Van Stennis, who was awarded with the seventh dan black belt in appeciation of his karate works in Africa lauded Muripo's achievement saying Zimbabwe and Africa should be proud for producing their first World Champion. -By Grace Chirumanzu.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One on One with The Axe

Young and talented Zimbabwean Motorsport racer, Axcil Jefferies, who is well known in this field as “The Axe” has got all who know of him and those who have heard about him, agree that his future shine so bright. Jefferies (15) won his first championship title in 2001at the Zimbabwe Cadet National Championships when he was just six, racing against drivers double his age. Since then, victory has been his life. In an exciting interview with Grace Chirumanzu, he tells The Zimbabwean on Sunday of his dream to become the youngest Formula One champion, in years to come.

GC: How did you start your racing career and how did people appreciate you at that young age?
AJ: Well, when I was 2 years old, I watched a video of a karting race and I just got hooked on motorsport. At 5 years old I begged my dad to buy me a kart which he did for my 6th birthday and when I first drove it, it just seemed natural for me. I started out at Donnybrook where I won two national championships, then raced in South Africa and won three championships there. I got fortunate enough to besponsored by Toyota and Castrol South Africa. I then went on to race for two years in Europe where I also won many races... I enjoyed it and everyone there was just surprised along the way to know I was from Zimbabwe.
GC: Who is Axcil in personality and what has given you the motivation along the way?
AJ: Well, I am just an ordinary guy like most guys of my age. I wish I had it all. I just work very hard and want to succeed in my dream. I have been lucky, but it’s because I believe I can make it… So I guess I make my luck.
GC: (Smiles) Formula One is widely considered to be the pinnacle of motorsports, how do you take it considering you are much into Kart-racing?
AJ: All formula one drivers started their careers in karting. It is like the primary school of motorsport. So like all of them, my goal is Formula one. The basics of driving are very similar; karting is a down scale of F1… Lots of fun.
GC: What makes you nervous before a race?
AJ: Honestly, I don’t get nervous anymore; I leave that to my Mum andDad. I have had a few accidents, but the sport is really safe these days, so fortunately no injuries. It is much safer than driving on ordinary roads.I just love the excitement that comes with the race, the challenge, the professionalism, the speed; I just want to be the best. I love this sport, if I’m not racing, I will rather be fishing just to relax.
GC: Your team manager from Eurasia Motorsport, Mark Goddard, always speak so highly of you, Suhail, has been there for you and even other racers such as Leeroy Poulter , who won the 2008 Rotax DD2 World Championship believe your future shine so bright. Poulter once said, "If any driver in South Africa has the ability to make it on the international scene, its Axcil Jefferies."
AJ: Yes I am very grateful; I believe God blessed me with the talent and a family that have faith in me. As long as I keep working hard and being true to myself, I think the future is bright. I love sharing it with everyone. I hope to be in Formula one in 4 years time and break many records in the next 10 years. I want to be the youngest F1 world champion.
GC: How have you manage to balance school and sport?
AJ: I am home schooled because of all the travelling. But I made a deal with my dad that I will always work hard at school and do my best. I study a lot at airports and on the plane.
GC: Tell us of the race that you have enjoyed most?
AJ: There are plenty races that I enjoyed, of note was winning in France in the wet weather and my recent in Malaysia, which was my first Formula BMW race. I just wished my mum and sister were there.
GC: What are the challenges you have faced so far?
AJ: I have to be really fit, always. So I work out 2 hours a day in the gym and run 5 kilometers every day. Most of the time I can’t be with my friends and sometimes I see the sacrifices my family make for me. One day I will repay them.
GC: How is it like working with the Eurasia Motorsport team?
AJ: They are so professional, I feel special knowing that a team of 20 men are all there just for me. They are great, they are always there for the motivation and guidance, and I have learnt a lot from them.
GC: With the difficult economic situation in Zimbabwe, it’s impossible to be in motorsport without financial aid. Who are the people behind your success?
AJ: I have been lucky, the last 3 years Toyota/Castrol South Africasponsored me, and this year BMW Germany have come in with sponsorship. But I am most grateful, Pioneer Corporation Zimbabwe have come on board and are nowsponsoring me as well. It is all thanks to these people I am able to race.
GC: What’s your favorite car in the sport?
AJ: I love Ferraris, one day I hope to buy one for myself.
GC: Just something to make us laugh, what is the craziest thing “The Axe” has ever done?
AJ: (Laughs) I have done a few crazy things so far; but I think one of them was travelling to South Africa alone for a race when I was only 8 years old.

Fullnames: Axcil Jefferies
D.O.B: 19 April 1994
P.O.B: Slough, England
Nickname: The Axe
Team: Eurasia Motorsport