The last time Dynamos snatched the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title from under the noses of FC Platinum and Rahman Gumbo, in 2011, they went on to dominate the competition for the next three years.
By Enock Muchinjo
Platinum, in their debut PSL season, finished second on goal difference in a race that went down to the wire. Gumbo was the daring newcomers’ coach.
Fast forward six years: Both Platinum and Gumbo are in the title run-in with Dynamos, with the later now in charge of Chicken Inn.
It thus makes for an interesting script how the shadows of the same characters of the last six to seven years keep looming over the championship race today.
The plots and sub-plots behind it all are intriguing.
Lloyd Mutasa is the coach at the heart of Dynamos’ quest for the 2017 title.
Back in 2011 when Dynamos won the first of its four successive titles, Mutasa had been fired by the club mid-season after a torrid start to the campaign.
Mutasa is seen in the eyes of many, though, as the architect of that success.
Those who believe in his ability and coaching philosophy credit him with putting together the rough stones used by Calisto Pasuwa during the four years that he dominated the league.
True, if you look closely, there are similarities to the Dynamos teams that started the 2011 and 2017 seasons — both under Mutasa.Both sets of players were so raw in the beginning, virtual nobodies in Zimbabwean football.
There was a time when the team looked so horribly out of depth, when even the players themselves appeared unsure whether they belonged to this league.
Looking at the turnaround of things, just to be in the title race at this time of the season, it put some meat on the bone of the theory of Mutasa laying the foundation of the glittering era of 2011-14.
Unlike in 2011, the club has allowed Mutasa time to complete his project and redeem himself.
He has his hands full though.
Gumbo’s Chicken Inn are a real menace and they have a coach who knows his way around the trenches of the game in Zimbabwe.
Platinum too, under Norman Mapeza. They are determined than ever before to become champions of Zimbabwe for the first time.
As for Gumbo and Platinum, the desire to bury the ghost of six years ago — when Dynamos denied them at the death with a typical a smash-and-grab show — should be a huge motivational factor.
Add in Tonderai Ndiraya to the script.
He was Dynamos’ assistant coach for three of the four titles under Pasuwa. Ngezi Platinum, where Ndiraya is the head coach now, are dark-horses for the title. It’s an effort of which everyone involved with this young club should be utterly proud.
The episode of 2017 is however one character short. Joey Antipas is now plying his trade in South Africa.
Stunningly, Dynamos’ glorious four-year spell between 2011 and 2014 was sandwiched between Antipas’ two titles.
He led Motor Action to the title in 2010 and then Chicken Inn in 2015 – both becoming champions for the first time.
Antipas would have certainly added intrigue to the script.