Former Premier League giants Masvingo United are hoping to earn a ticket back to the country’s second tier football league when they take part in the D2 playoffs scheduled for this Saturday at Masvingo’s Mucheke Stadium.
By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu.
In the years gone by, Mucheke Stadium used to be an iconic place for the people of Masvingo as they would come in numbers to watch their local team Masvingo United play when it was still in the PSL. But unfortunately, the relegation of Masvingo United marked the end of that spectacular era as the stadium would no longer play host to the big boys of the PSL.
Masvingo United would continue on its downward spiral since then, with the club further slipping to the third tier league (Division 2). However, a recent resurgence of form has of late seen the club’s fans being optimistic of the future.
“Asipo Haapo”, as the club is affectionately known, have a chance to gain promotion into the D1 Eastern Region next season as they after having earned a place in the Disivion 2 play-offs scheduled for this Saturday. This development has Masvingo United fans dreaming of a journey to ascend back into the PSL via earning promotion into the Division 1 to relive those glory days once again.
The team’s head coach Fastino Mueji, is optimistic about his side’s determination ahead of the play-offs.
“The team has faced financial problems, but we played well in the Division 2 and now we going for playoffs, the team is no longer strong like before but the players are well determined to bring back football in Masvingo,” he said.
The secretary for Masvingo United echoed the same sentiments, saying that they were positive of winning the playoffs and gaining promotion back into the league.
“This will be a platform for business communities and politicians to see us meaning we can get sponsorship opportunities for the team and get it promoted back into the PSL.”
The Masvingo United legends have stated that they are also willing to help and try getting sponsorship for the team.
Former Warriors player, Godfrey Dondo who is now the teams assistant coach also said that he is positive the team will make it through the trials and book a ticket in the D1 as this is the only way the team can get promoted back into PSL and therefore they need to work extra hard.
The team’s committee member Saul Chimbunde commended the club for overcoming financial constraints that had been dogging the club.
“The team was almost at the blink of collapse as it failed to account $3 100 affiliation fees for Division 1 but against all odds landed up booking a ticket in the Division 2 after paying $500 affiliation fee and $150 for players’ registration,” said Chimbunde.
“Failing to have a sponsor has been tough for the team as the Eastern Region feared to register the team into the Division 1 as there is no one they will claim their money from. The team almost landed into the Premier league in 2015 but it was fruitless as the team was having conflicts with ZIFA and ZIFA made statements about the team being suspended hence Mutare City ended up being promoted.”
ZIFA Chairman for Masvingo Province, Nabioth Magwizi, after being asked if the relegation of Masvingo United ended the mark of football in the province said:
“I can say it is a success though our teams are facing some financial challenges like any other business entities in the country. The staging of D2 playoffs shows that there is a stiff competition in our D2 League.”
Masvingo United has over the years earned a reputation for grooming a number of players that are doing well in Zimbabwe and out of Zimbabwe and many well-known coaches in the country once coached the team.
However, despite having produced a number of star players, Masvingo United never benefited from them as some of the players were free agents and as soon as their contracts were over. That meant they moved over for greener pastures elsewhere with Masvingo United getting nothing for them.
“The team did not make financial gains from the players, if they had made an investment in these players, the money was going to help in the development of the team for the future,” said ZIFA Executive Tedious Machawira.