1998 Champions League runners-up Dynamos FC of Zimbabwe have had better days in top continental club competition but the Harare giants are facing another year of waiting to go one better and claim the championship. On Sunday March 9 “De-Mbare” ( Dynamos’ nickname) bowed out on the 2014 Orange CAF Champions League after losing 1-0 away to AS Vita of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first round second leg match played in Kinshasa.
The defeat makes it fours year in a row, Dynamos bowed out of the Orange CAF Champions League before the group stage. At home in the first leg at the National Sports Stadium on March 1 Dynamos played a goalless draw but needing a win or at the very least a scoring draw away to progress “De-Mbare failed and blew away the loss a lucrative and much anticipated clash against South African giants Kaizer Chiefs in the second round.
Dynamos coach Callisto Pasuwa spoke to CAFonline.com upon the team’s return from DR Congo. “We need time in terms of our preparations for these continental matches. We buy new players and they are not given enough time to strike understanding and cohesion with their new teammates. We buy players today and in less than a month they are playing competitive matches and this does not always adequately help meet expectations,” said Pasuwa.
In the close season, they brought in Masimba Mambare, Ronald Chitiyo, Themba Ndlovu and Walter Mukanga, while Devon Chafa only trained twice after his return from a Fifa ban and was fielded in the DRC. But because the season in Zimbabwe only starts at the end of March, the team has not had time to play any competitive matches.
“We have to take a closer look at our calendar because right now the other leagues are in their mid-season while we are in our off-season. That alone makes a big difference in terms of the players conditioning but what can we do, that is the way it is.”
Former Zimbabwean referee and member of CAF (Match Commissioners) Wilfred Mukuna believes the players are not focused at all and put money first. “We are not serious at all, our preparations are always haphazard. If you look at the teams that tend to do well in this competition, Esperance, TP Mazembe and others , they go to lengths to get their teams ready, they go for long camps, so we need to prepare well, but all this needs funds.
“Players need to focus as well. If you look at recent African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2014 tournament, Zimbabwe had a group of players who had a target, who wanted to show what they can do; it was not just for the money. If you work hard and focus, the money will come; its extra motivation. We also need to be supportive and avail the necessary resources so that teams prosper even it means hiring psychologists to prepare the mind,” the veteran former referee said.
On the competitiveness of the league, Mukuna said: “Our league is very competitive, no doubt, we have got the talent that’s not a secret. You look at the players that go down to South Africa, they quickly make a mark, but they need to set goals and they will get there, it starts with the players.”
Veteran skipper Murape Murape, who was part of the team that reached the final in 1998 has seen hundreds of players come and go at Dynamos since then.
“We are a big team and we will always attract the best players because we play in the Champions League every year. This should make us stronger and I hope next season we will reach the mini-league phase.”
A Dynamos fan Daniel Nyazvikondo says they will vent their anger on the local clubs. “Welcome back guys, now let’s unleash our anger on these local teams again and show them we (are) still the only blue bull in the kraal.” Another fan Chris ‘Romario’ Musekiwa says the coach should not be fired. “It’s sad for Dynamos; perhaps we measure ourselves by the local league and think we are better. We need more friendly matches to prepare, but the solution is not to fire the coach but to get money for the team’s preparations.”
Dynamos chairman Kenny Mubaiwa says financial problems are at the core of their failure in the competition. “In as much as we the executive and the supporters want results it will not be proper for us to blame it on the coach alone when the results do not come. We have to look for the problems that could have caused the defeat and try to correct them without necessarily firing the coach. And one of the major problem is sponsorship, we don’t have the money. The players went on strike for three days and on the fourth day they had to travel to the DRC with only a day’s training. If the league had been running, the better for us, we could have had fitter and mentally focused players. So we need a better approach and an early start to our preparations, maybe even December after the draw has been done and play some friendly matches against top sides to gain match fitness,” Mubaiwa said.
Under Pasuwa Dynamos’ away record in Champions League reads like this drawn 2-2 against Liga Muculmana in Mozambique, lost 0-6 to Esperance of Tunisia, were beaten 0-1 by Lesotho Correctional Services, were beaten 3-0 by CA Birzetin in Tunisia, drew 1-1 with Mochudi Centre Chiefs in Gaborone before the loss to AS Vita.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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