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Of elusive PSL and bitter rivalry

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Of elusive PSL and bitter rivalry


Garikai Mafirakureva

‘When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate.’ This African proverb fits well with the Masvingo football landscape. Masvingo town is deemed one of the most soccer-loving towns in the country after Masvingo United was ranked among the top four best-supported clubs in Zimbabwe during the peak of its success in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

However, the town has never watched PSL games involving a Masvingo team for over a decade now. Masvingo United (Una Una) has been trying to return to the top league over the years since its relegation in 2011, but always faltered at the last hurdle. So near yet so far, as the saying goes.
What has so far managed to grow to significant proportions is the pull-me-down syndrome and club rivalry. What can only be witnessed on every match day are the inter-club supporters fighting; which is not surprising, because it usually happens in a town that has been PSL-starved and disenfranchised for a long time. The enmity started way back that it would need acres of space to chronicle how it all started.

The Tanda Tavaruva bankrolled club was repeatedly relegated to a lower Division 1 tier, but its support base did not shrink. When the Busmen as the team was also affectionately known played in ZIFA Eastern Region Division 1 Soccer League (ERSL) in 2009 and 2010, the club’s loyal fans followed in droves. The relationship seemed like a loyal woman clinging to an abusive man-one day he is love bombing her, the next day he is bitchy.
For some reason, the Mhunga Bus owner was no longer sponsoring the club. During that time, another businessman who used to run a chain of supermarkets in Masvingo province, Petros Mutema, partnered with a South African-based drink-making company, Zimanzi, and sponsored the club. The club was immediately named Zimanzi Masvingo FC.

Unfortunately, the sponsorship deal fell through when Zimanzi pulled out at the end of the 2010 season; the same year the club was promoted to the premier league. Mutema then renamed the team Masvingo United FC.
During the Una Una’s promotion and relegation drama, another team got promoted into the premier league. A Naboth Magwizi-run FC Victoria was promoted into the PSL in 2011, the same year Masvingo United FC returned to the top-flight league.
A sizeable group of impatient supporters crossed the floor and started rallying behind the new boys. That was the birth of the biggest rivalry ever in Masvingo soccer history. The rivalry became so deep-rooted that whenever Masvingo United was playing at home; FC Victoria fans would attend to cheer the visiting team and vice-versa.

Ironically, both FC Victoria and Masvingo United could not stand the test of time in the top flight league and were both relegated. This, however, did not bury the rivalry that had grown between the two clubs.
As if to rub salt to injury during the Una Una’s dance in the PSL it was dogged by financial hitches forcing Mutema to rope in the owner of Setheo United which was a Masvingo Division 1 club to help him sponsor Masvingo United.
Undisclosed disagreements ensued leading the new partner to form his club–Setheo United. That’s how Setheo United came into being and the rivalry deepened because after relegation FC Victoria disbanded, and its supporters found a new home in Setheo United.

Years passed by with Masvingo United’s spirited effort to get promoted into the PSL coming to nought. For some time there were Masvingo United and Masvingo Pirates before the two teams buried the hatchet and signed a pact on March 10, 2019, before merging and formed Masvingo United in a bid to bring back Premier Soccer League games to Masvingo.

Before the dust could settle; boom another team emerged. Wangu Mazodze FC better known as the Kingdom boys are in Eastern Region Division 1 Soccer League together with Masvingo United. The town is battling with another bout of rivalry, but the dream of clinching a place in the top flight league remains a pipe dream for both Una Una and The Kingdom boys as they are trailing log leaders with 10 points and 18 points respectively.https://masvingomirror.com/


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