HomeSportThe sporting year in review

The sporting year in review

TWENTY-TEN  will go down as one of the better sporting years in Zimbabwe leaving lingering memories both on the local and international scene.

While sporting disciplines like cricket, swimming and rugby will look at the year as one of their best, football will be lamenting once again as has become the norm.
IndependentSport rewinds to some of the best and worst moments in the sporting year.

Football
The biggest highlight of the sporting year in Zimbabwe came in June when five-time World Champions Brazil descended on Zimbabwe where they played the Warriors in their Fifa 2010 World Cup warm up-match.
The Samba Boys led by Robinho and Kaka cruised to a 3-0 nil win in front of a partisan Zimbabwe crowd that filled the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium to capacity.
It is easily the biggest sporting event of 2010.
Even the Indian and Sri Lankan national cricket teams that were touring Zimbabwe shelved their bats and balls to witness the Brazilians live in action.
The game also attracted President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, among other high ranking officials.
The game saw the Warriors play at an excitingly quick tempo and in which they gave a good account of themselves against their more illustrious opponents. It was beamed live across the world.
The Warriors also played Japan in another match in the run up to the world show piece hosted by South Africa. The Warriors held Japan to a goalless-draw.
The World Cup left great memories among Africans, more so in southern Africa where the action was just next door for most of the countries in the region.
Thirty-two countries descended on South Africa between June and July and many Zimbabweans seized the lifetime opportunity to go and watch the World Cup hosted in Africa for the first time.
The global showcase gave birth to a football revival in the region.
Spain went on to win the Cup, beating Holland in the final thanks to a late Andres Iniesta strike.
For Zimbabwe the Brazil and Japan matches were as far as the Warriors could get a whiff of World Cup action after failing to qualify, again.
Earlier in the year, Zimbabwe had watched from the sidelines as Africa’s finest did battle in Angola in the African Cup of Nations.
They resumed the campaign for the next continental championship that is on in 2012 with a game against Liberia where they drew 1-1 and needed to beat Cape Verde at home to gain prime position in a Group that also includes favourites Mali. However they did not get that wish as they were held to a goalless draw under Norman Mapeza.
The Warriors are perennial underachievers and with their current position, they could crash out.
The best Zimbabwean football player this year has been none other than Knowledge Musona  who had a dream year, both at Kaizer Chiefs and during his few appearances for the Warriors.

Premier Soccer League
The year started off with the 2010 Premier Soccer League swinging into action with Motor Action, the eventual champions, taking the initiative.
The Mighty Bulls were involved in a relegation dog fight in 2009 but they showed from the beginning of the season this year that they had been reinvented at the break to become a championship winning side.
The traditional big three were well poised for a serious challenge at the start, but CAPS United were under achieving even though they had what looked on paper like the most potent side.
United were soon chopped down to an average side after South African sides Sundowns,  Moroka Swallows and Cape Town Ajax pounced on the best talents by signing  six of their players.
Striker Nyasha Mushekwi, defender Method Mwanjali and middle man Lionel Mtizwa all joined Sundowns while Oscar Machapa signed for Swallows. Tafadzwa Rusike and Khama Billiart joined Ajax Cape Town at the start of the South African season in August.
Later in the year, Dynamos legend Moses Chunga was to be re-signed by Caps to head the coaching department after Lloyd Chitembwe left the team.
In the blue half of the capital, Dynamos’ bid to clinch yet another premiership title ended in heartbreak on the last day of the season.
The Harare giants this year had another stint in the African Champions League making it into the mini-league phase, but failing to go beyond that under the tutelage of coach Elvis Chiweshe.
Chiweshe quit Dynamos this week after failing to land the championship amid reports that he had fallen out of favour with the team’s management.
In Bulawayo, Highlanders left it too late to start stamping their authority on the domestic scene. They had to wait until they parted ways with Egyptian coach Mohammed Fathi who was shown the door for poor results.
Former player Mkhupali Masuku was roped in to arrest a poor run of form which was threatening to condemn the former champions to a relegation battle.
The league administration had to deal with some of the most contentious matches, which include the BancABC semi final clash between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium. The matter only came to rest in November.
The matter threatened to tear the league apart and eventually claimed PSL vice chairman Themba Ndlela ,who is the Bosso chairman.
Ndlela quit his position in the league as he felt his team had been unfairly treated after they  were booted out of the largest knockout tourney.
PSL chairman Twine Phiri and crew did their best in an unfriendly environment where there were no sponsors to the league.
Despite all its financial frailties, the league still managed to produce some of the best football and competition among teams.
The fans still followed the local game and made the atmosphere at most of the matches electric. After all the hype before the season started, the 2010 league managed to keep up.
At Zifa, the year ushered new administration in March with Cuthbert Dude leading a grouping that also comprises Ndumiso Gumede (vice chairman), Kenny Marange (vice chairman) and Methembe Ndlovu, among others.
Their swaggering entry saw them engaging in a tempestuous match fixing scandal probe linked to friendly matches the Warriors played in Asia.
It looks like Dube’s trigger finger was always itchy as he entered office, swiftly swooping on chief executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya who was fingered in a number of misdemeanors and eventually fired.

Cricket
Indisputably the signing of West Indies legend Brian Lara to play for Southern Rocks in the popular Stanbic T-20 series was the biggest news and the biggest scoop during the year by Zimbabwe Cricket.
Zimbabwe cricket’s upward mobility gained momentum in 2010 with a host of exiled players making a return.
Notably is Grant Flower, who is now the national team’s batting coach. Flower briefly took his bat but dumped it to concentrate on imparting his wisdom on the younger players.
Sean Ervine is the latest returnee after being named in the provisional World Cup squad. Wholesome changes were made to the structures during the year, with a number of foreign coaches being roped in to help aid team’s ascendancy.
Former Proteas pace-man Alan Donald and former Australian quickie Jason Gillespie both signed contracts to coach Mountaineers and Midwest Rhinos respectively.
Mountaineers had prior to that won the inaugural Stanbic T-20 series. The second edition of the series which was held in October was won by Mashonaland Eagles coached by South African Andrew Hall, beating Gillespie’s Rhinos.
Lara’s Rocks fell at the semi-final stage.
The national team played some of their best cricket in years, after they made it into the final of the Micromax triangular series against Sri Lanka and India.
Zimbabwe twice beat India and Sri Lanka once on their way to the final that they lost to the later.
They also toured South Africa where despite a whitewash defeat in the three-match series the team gave a goo d account of themselves, notably with the bat.
Brendan Taylor became the only ninth batsman to bat through an innings scoring a magnificent 145 off 212 balls in the first One-Day-International.
Zimbabwe resumed ties with New Zealand as the later sent an “A” team to tour Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe also hosted Ireland in a Coca-Cola Challenge against Ireland where the hosts recorded a 2-1 series win.
For the way they organised all the tournaments and the tour and the way they attracted some of the top players to come and grace the game, cricket administrators will fittingly count 2010 is one of their best.

Rugby
The Under-19 national team coached by Brighton Chivandire won the age-group continental competition.
The Young Sables are the most successful team in the discipline while the Cheetahs also had some measurable success.
On the other hand, the Sables made it into the semi finals of the Confederation of African Rugby tournament which was, however, not played.
Late in the year the Cheetahs also participated in the Sevens series in Dubai and George South Africa.
On the domestic scene, District Dragons won the league championship ahead of Harare Sports Club whom they defeated in the finals.
In April, the popular Cottco Schools festival was also played at traditional venue Prince Edward School with rugby playing schools from all over the country in participation.

Golf  
The year saw the return of a reinvented Zimbabwe Open tournament at Royal Harare Gold Club in April.
Zimbabwean golfers gave a good display with Marc Cayeux finishing third, while South African Jbe Kruger won the Open.
Zimbabwe’s Tongoona Charamba and Ryan Cairns also competed at the Open where the later finished eighth.
The tournament saw some of the big names in the Sunshine tour that include Charl Schwartzel, Thomas Aiken and James Kamte.
On a sad note, Zimbabwe’s top golfer Cayeux was involved in a car accident that almost claimed his career. He is, however, recuperating and is expected to start playing again soon.
Swimming
Zimbabwe’s top swimmer Kirsty Coventry this year moved base from the United States to settle in South Africa.
There was only one major meet for her this year when she brought home two bronze and a silver medal at the Final World Cup European short course in Sweden in November.
Her achievements, however ,are widely regarded as a disappointment for the swimmer who has set high standards for herself in the past.

Tennis
Local tennis continued to suffer at the lack of adequate sponsorship this year. Tennis Zimbabwe, however, managed to put together the Zimbabwe Open bankrolled by long time partner NetOne.
Young tennis sensation Benjamin Lock stole the show in a tournament staged at the Harare Sports Club winning it for the first time.
Lock, who is now based in South Africa, also participated in other tournaments on the continent where he notched some good results.
He, however, noted after the Zimbabwe Open that the win was his best yet in a promising career that has already seen him represent Zimbabwe in the Davis Cup at the age of 18.
Zimbabwe tennis queen Cara Black continued to shine on the international scene despite parting ways with long term doubles partner, American Liezel Huber.
But her successes diminished in comparison with her days with Huber where they won grand slams that include the US Open propelling them to the top of the doubles rankings.
She still managed to win the Sportsperson of the Year gong in December.
Athletics
Athletics was almost non-existent on the international scene save for a few local meets that attract very little interest.
Of note, however, were the achievements by Stephen Muzhingi who won the prestigious Comrades marathon in South Africa.
Despite the success, Muzhingi did not get recognition as the Fifa World Cup had engulfed the country.
It wasn’t a fruitful year though for one of Zimbabwe’s top runners Brian Dzingai, failing to make the expected impact.

Motor Sport
Jamie Whyte together with core driver Philip Archenoul won both the African Championship Rally and the Zimbabwe Challenge Rally to cap a fine year.
On the other hand Shaun Whyte won the National Motor rally championship.

Triathlon
Zimbabwe hosted the Triathlon Union Africa Cup at Troutbeck Inn, Nyanga, where athletes from across the continent participated.
Christopher Felgate, Joseph Anderson and Andrew Tanner were representing Zimbabwe.

 

Kevin Mapasure

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading