Prophet Walter Magaya says his Yadah Stars’ Premiership franchise is not for sale and this year he intends to take a hands-on approach to issues related to the club to try and even fulfil his dream of winning silverware.
There has been frenzied speculation during this off-season that the franchise would be put on the market with a number of clubs, notably relegated Nichrut and Bulawayo City, being possible suitors to take over the slot.
But Magaya, who was disillusioned with the way the club was treated last year he even took a hiatus from bankrolling it leaving that responsibility to his partners, says his love for the club has been rekindled.
He summoned his players into camp during the Christmas and New Year holiday season, with the players and coaching staff only being given off on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, in an early start to preparations for the next season.
The football-mad prophet has also retired some of his most experienced players, and ushered them into coaching, while he is now on the hunt for a number of some exciting teenage stars.
The entire technical staff has also been overhauled with head coach Thomas Ruzive joining Black Rhinos while a new-look coaching team is being assembled.
ON THE WAY OUT . . . Yadah Stars star forward Leeroy Mavunga is likely to leave the Harare side and join a European team this year.
Magaya says he will remain the team’s technical director and will be in charge of all coaching matters, including coming up with the blueprint which he wants his team to use for an assault on silverware.
Yadah Stars sailed in relegation waters last season but finished the campaign strongly, including beating one of the championship-chasing teams Ngezi Platinum, and he wants his men to build on that.
The players have been camping at the Yadah Hotel during the Christmas and New Year holidays and Magaya says he wants his men to be in prime shape when the season opens.
“I have heard the speculation that we are going to sell Yadah Stars but that’s not true and we are here to stay and we will be part of the PSL again this year,” he said.
“In fact, while I faced some challenges last year with what l felt was an unfair treatment of my team, leading me to take a back seat of its operations, I can report that I have had a change of heart and revived my commitment to the project.
“A number of players were knocking on my door every day saying they were distraught because they felt I was abandoning them and telling me stories of how we have become a family and how I have managed to transform their lives.
“In the end I could not ignore their pleas for me to reconsider my position and I am back with them and I also felt I needed another crack to realise my dream of winning some silverware because I believe in this mission.
“That is why we have started preparations very early when most of our rivals are having an off-season because we intend to make a difference this time around and make a big impact.”
He said the team was being revived through the addition of some exciting teenage players while the veterans had been pushed into retirement to take up coaching roles.
“We have some experienced players like Brian Mapfumo who have made a great contribution to our cause over the years and shown that age is just a number but we have ushered them into retirement where we will help them pursue coaching courses,” Magaya said.
“We are replacing them with some young and dynamic players, mostly under the ages of 20, and our plan was to work with these boys until the start of the season in August.
“We felt that had the season started in August as initially reported we would have assembled the most potent youthful team the country has ever known given we have scouted from across the nation.
“However, the decision to stick with the March start to the calendar means some of the boys might not be as ready to express themselves and play to their potential and also play the way we want.
“But that doesn’t mean we won’t fight to win matches and I believe we will be a far better team than the one that we fielded in the last campaign.
“Football means a lot to me, it’s my game, and just to see these boys win matches makes my days even when the chips are down and there are some issues plaguing me.
“I have had my issues which have frustrated me, especially the way I felt was a harsh treatment we were getting from the league, but there is a new leadership now and I am sure they will listen when we ask them to consider our plight.”
Magaya said he will remain the team’s technical director.
“In fact, from now onwards I will play a leading role in helping the team in its preparations, its training programmes, the conditioning of the players, the scientific aspects like studying our opponents and how to handle them,” he said.
The prophet also revealed he was resigned to losing star forward Leeroy Mavunga to Europe this year.
“The people who want Leeroy in Europe have been saying he has to come now and l don’t see us having him around for a long time,” he said.
“But we have to ensure he gets a good deal because, when you look at his age and potential, he has a lot to offer to this country in years to come and we need to ensure he gets the right deal.
“He is an amazing young man and the future for him is very bright.”
Highlanders’ Apology for Fan Misconduct in Abandoned Dynamos Fixture
Highlanders Football Club has issued a sincere apology to the Zimbabwean football community following the crowd skirmishes that occurred during the high-profile premiership fixture against their archrivals Dynamos. The incident happened just 33 minutes into the game at Barbourfields Stadium, where the Bulawayo club was trailing by two goals. Fans stormed the pitch, protesting against the referring decisions that were perceived to be unfavourable to their team.
The police were overwhelmed by the advancing football hooligans, forcing them to retreat. Some fans were injured during the skirmishes, and vehicles were damaged as the police fought running battles with fans outside the stadium.
In a statement released on Monday, the Highlanders Football Club condemned the unsporting behaviour of the fans who caused the abandonment of the match. The club executive stated that they would be heavily fined for the mayhem, and the points would be awarded to Dynamos on a 3-0 scoreline as per the norm with abandoned matches.
The statement read, “Highlanders Football Club is deeply saddened by the crowd trouble that led to the abandonment of our league match against Dynamos FC at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday. The club condemns the unsporting behaviour that negatively profiles Zimbabwean football as a brand. It is sad to witness such ugly scenes at a family sports event, especially at a time when the club, together with other stakeholders, is working tirelessly to bring fans back into the stadiums and convincing the corporate world that sport, in general, and football, in particular, is worth their support.”
Highlanders apologised to all its stakeholders, especially sponsors, partners, and innocent football-loving fans who were affected by the acts of a few selfish individuals who care less about the growth of their clubs and football in general. They also prayed for those who were injured and wished them a speedy recovery. The club also urged stakeholders to work together to find a lasting solution to hooliganism in football stadiums.
This is not the first time in two seasons that a match involving the two most followed clubs has been abandoned due to crowd trouble. Another fixture was abandoned in May last year when both sets of fans invaded the pitch. Highlanders celebrated an unorthodox celebration for a 93rd-minute finish by Washington Navaya that broke the deadlock, while Dynamos fans were protesting a referring decision over an incident leading to the goal.
Zimbabwean youngster Jimiel Chikukwa has joined English National League side FC Halifax Town
Zimbabwean youngster Jimiel Chikukwa has joined English National League side FC Halifax Town following his release by Championship side Watford.
The 20-year-old forward was unveiled by Halifax Town last week. ”We are pleased to announce that FC Halifax Town has signed Jimiel Chikukwa, who was recently released from Championship team Watford”. Chikukwa started his career in the Leeds United academy when he was only 13 years old. However, he decided to join Watford’s academy in the summer of 2021 when his contract with Leeds expired.
During his time with Watford, Chikukwa was loaned to Maidstone United in the National League South for the second half of the 2021/22 season. Although the Stones won the National League South, Chikukwa only made one league appearance before returning to Watford at the end of the season.
Town boss Chris Millington is optimistic about the future of new signing Jimiel Chikukwa.
Millington expressed, “He is a young and thrilling player who needs to demonstrate his abilities in senior games. However, he has shown tremendous potential, and we believe he will be an exceptional player for our team in the future.” Millington also mentioned that Chikukwa is versatile and can play in various positions, including anywhere in the front three and as an attacking wing-back.
We think he could pose a danger when playing as a number nine, but he could also be a threat when positioned on either wing. In our current formation, he might even excel as an attacking wing-back, similar to Angelo Cappello.
Reims secures first win with Munetsi scoring his first goal
Zimbabwe international Marshall Munetsi has expressed his delight after scoring his first goal of the season to inspire Stade de Reims to their first win of the season following a 2-0 victory against Clermont Foot in the second round of the French Ligue 1 on Sunday.
The 27-year-old midfielder was instrumental in ensuring Reims got its first win of the season after breaking the deadlock with a header in the 17th minute.
Denmark international Mohamed Daramy, a new signing from Ajax, added a second goal by converting a low cross from Junya Ito in the 84th.
Munetsi, who is flourishing in a more advanced role at Reims, had several opportunities to double his tally.
Probably his best chance of securing a brace came in the 76th minute when the Clermont goalkeeper Mory Diaw produced a double save to deny the Zimbabwe international what looked like a certain goal.
In the end, it was a successful day for Munetsi as he continued his solid start to the season by scoring a crucial goal to follow up on his contribution on the opening day of the season when he registered an assist during the 2-1 loss against Marseille in the first round of the season.
Afterwards, Munetsi took to social media to praise his teammates for putting on a solid display to register their first win of the campaign in their second match.
Great team performance @StadeDeReims to get our first win of the season at home. We keep going,” Munetsi said.
The former Orlando Pirates player is expected to play an important role for the Zimbabwe Warriors when they return to international football later this year in the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.