Ray Bande Senior Sports Reporter
SONGS and dances broke out at Sakubva Stadium last Sunday as football fans in Mutare welcomed the return of top flight league football in the eastern border city.
Mutare was left without a resident Premiership football team in the 2017 season after Mutare City Rovers was relegated at the end of last year. But last Sunday, Eastern Region Division One log leaders, Mutare City Rovers became the fourth team to be promoted into the Castle Lager Premiership after amassing an unassailable 69 points with only one round of league matches remaining before the curtain comes down on the 2017 season.
Four second half goals from veteran, Hibron “Adala Chomie” Makukutu, Stephen “Dealer” Sibanda, Evans “Morocco” Chikwaikwai and Hussein Zvakavapano was all that Mutare City Rovers needed to outplay Buffaloes at Sakubva Stadium and open a six-point gap at the summit of the table. Gusha Bhora, as City Rovers are fondly referred to by their fans, now join Shurugwi outfit Nichrut FC who gained promotion on a Central Region ticket, Southern Region’s Bulawayo Chiefs and Herentals from the Northern Region to make up the list of newly promoted teams.
Mutare City Rovers’ quick return to the Premiership after being relegated from the top-flight league at the end of last season sent a sizable crowd of their fans into song and dance after the final whistle. Mutare City Council publicist, Spren Mutiwi, praised the players, coaches, executive and council management for the hard work that saw the team being promoted.
“We are happy as a local authority for the achievement of City Rovers. Their promotion into the top-flight league came through hard work and dedication of players, the executive and above all the immense support from the entire City of Mutare management and city fathers.
“This is good news to the Province of Manicaland and we believe the team is there to stay. The team has been there before and the experience they gained as well as the experience from Division One will help see us through,” said Mutiwi.
Bongai Dube of Zimunya said following the promotion of Mutare City Rovers, they need to put their house in order especially in terms of club administration.
“I think we have to be honest to each other and tell the who is who at the club that they need to improve on their administration of the team. They need to have an executive of six or seven people who understand the dynamics of the game.
“Councillors and other council management officials are needed in the team, but not necessarily at executive level. They should form some sort of a board that receive reports periodically from the executive which runs the day-to-day affairs of the team. This is the only way that they can see an improvement in terms of results on the field of play. We no longer want teams that get promoted this year and get relegated the following year. Mutare has so much talent to ensure permanent stay in the Premiership,” said Dube.
Paul Sigauke said it was high time Mutare City Rovers take on board serious football administrators.
“I hope we will see a more serious Mutare City Rovers this time around. I hope issues of points being docked because some people did not open their emails are now a thing of the past. We hope that we will no longer have hooligans or supporters in the administration executive this time around. We do not need some of the unruly elements in the current executive.
“We saw one of them assaulting referees at Sakubva Stadium after the match against Tenax and they still have space for such individuals on the executive. Oh my God! The fact that they came a long way with the team does not justify their existence at this stage of the game,” he said.
Benjamin Chindima, the team’s chief of protocol, thanked council management, councillors and the fans for their support throughout the season.
“It is a momentous occasion. We have been waiting for this memorable victory. We want to thank the players for a job well done. It has been a very competitive season and we want to applaud the players for such dedication,” said Chindima.
“We also want to thank the Town Clerk, Joshua Maligwa, his management and the city fathers for the sponsorship. The supporters have been the 12th player. We appreciate their loyalty and unwavering support throughout the season.
“We hope that this football partnership will continue as we go into the elite league. We are now focusing on the next big stage and it is now our appeal to Mutare City Council management and councillors to be with us and have another sponsorship,” he said.