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The Masvingo derby that lacked the oomph

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The Masvingo derby that lacked the oomph


Garikai Mafirakureva

It was Masvingo’s El Clasico! The air was electrifying with both teams itching for a win while fans warmed up for a spectacular celebration. The air around Mucheke Stadium last Sunday; brought back the nostalgia of yesteryear matches when Masvingo United used to brush shoulders with big teams in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). Of course, that was over a decade ago.

Back then; Masvingo United better-known as Una Una played local derbies with the now-defunct FC Victoria that saw the 10,000-seater Mucheke stadium filled to the brim. The club was being bankrolled by the late transport mogul Tanda Tavaruva and was also nicknamed ‘The Busmen’.

Some might be questioning why the match between the Masvingo’s oldest team and the new kid on the block Wangu Mazodze FC popularly known as Kingdom Boys is being described as El Clasico, but those in the know can tell you that it is a known Spanish term which translates to ‘The Classic’ in English and is known in Catalan as El Classic.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are Spain’s biggest and most successful clubs deemed to be the pinnacle of Spanish football, which brought the idea that their matches are the country’s ‘classic’ encounters. The term was earlier used only for matches in Spanish Championship, but now it is used for every match between the two clubs in every competition they play in.

With both Masvingo-based teams sharing Mucheke Stadium as their home ground the term El Clasico fits well to describe the local derby. While the well-funded FC Wangu Mazodze which made its maiden appearance in ZIFA Eastern Region Soccer League Division 1 this year and is being sponsored by the United States-based businessman and real estate investment magnate, Richard Wangu Mazodze, who is the team President, Masvingo United is regarded as community team with no sponsorship at the moment.

However, as new as the team seems; FC Wangu Mazodze has managed to chew a fair chunk of the Masvingo soccer-loving fans and now boasts of a sizeable fan base. Surprisingly, since 2005, Masvingo United which is not new to both Division 1 and PSL football used to be the fourth-best supported and performing club in the Zimbabwean top-flight league, after Highlanders, Caps United and Dynamos. Masvingo was, however, relegated at the end of the 2011 season.
Although El Clasico is considered to be one of the biggest football matches in club football other than the UEFA Champions League final, the atmosphere before the Sunday encounter was not far from the famed Spanish El Clasico.

However, the lacklustre clash was lukewarm from the first whistle, with the pendulum swinging from one end to the other, although Una Una seemed to have an upper hand. Despite sublime dribbling skills, deft touches, and pin-point passes from Captain Benedict ‘Kaka’ Bere; who was operating from the middle of the park, Masvingo United remained goal-shy managing only a few shots on target.

The sensational dribbling wizard, Hillary Bakacheza and Ronald ‘Rooney’ Makiwa, both had a bad day in office, and Una Una gaffer Fastino Hey days Mugeji had no option but to pull them out halfway through, much to the disappointment of the Una Una fans who were expecting their team to pick from where they left in their last encounter with FC Wangu Mazodze. Masvingo United thrashed Division 1 newcomers FC Wangu Mazodze two nil at the beginning of the season.

On the other hand, ‘The Kingdom boys’ striker Edward Mafa fluffed numerous glaring chances. Mafa failed to register his name on the score sheet 17 minutes after the breather after he powered his effort over the bar. A few minutes later it was Hardlife Chitamba’s turn to miss the target after receiving a brilliant through pass from Edward Mafa.

The Kingdom boys picked up the tempo towards the end of the game and nearly drew blood from Una Una a few minutes from stoppage time, but Masvingo United’s shot-stopper made a spectacular acrobatic save and fans breathed a sigh of relief. The referee finally blew to end the game and that last whistle brought the curtain down on this year’s new footballing rivalry between the oldest team in Masvingo and the newly initiated Kingdom boys.

The match had its moments of madness. One interesting moment was when FC Wangu Mazodze assistant coach, George Magariro was yellow-carded for playing the ball out of the pitch when Una una was making a counter attack.

Nevertheless, Una Una has played 15 games so far, with eight wins, four draws and three defeats and amassed 28 points, while FC Wangu Mazodze has played 15 games so far with four wins, drew five times has been defeated six times and has 17 points.

In an interview with The Mirror FC Wangu Mazodze Coach Takura Shariwa, has said the result was fair. “I’m happy with the performance of my team and I can say this was a fair game. They had a better ball possession than us but they failed to breach our defence. We also failed to convert numerous chances that we created.

Masvingo United gaffer Mugeji popularly-known as ‘Hey days’, said his team played well but was toothless in front of the goal. “From the onset, we outclassed our opponents for the better part of the game in terms of ball possession and ball distribution, but my charges fizzled out in the last part of the second stanza,” said Mugeji.

Meanwhile, Masvingo united will be away playing Green Fuel this Saturday at Green Fuel Sports Arena, while FC Wangu Mazodze will travel to Chiredzi where they are going to play Lowveld FC at Chishamiso stadium on the same day.https://masvingomirror.com

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