Season to forget for Southern Region teams

Amini Soma-Phiri and Cosmas ‘Tsano’ Zulu

Amini Soma-Phiri and Cosmas ‘Tsano’ Zulu

Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
SOUTHERN Region teams had a season to forget in the just ended Castle Lager Premier Soccer League campaign that saw three teams from the region being relegated to the unfashionable First Division while the surviving ones failed to live up to expectations.

Bantu Rovers, Tsholotsho and Hwange will ply their trade in Division One after their unfruitful campaigns.

At the beginning of the 2017 season, soccer fans had celebrated the suggestion that the PSL dominance had shifted from the Northern Region to the Southern Region owing to the number of teams from this side.

The claims were justified given that the region had seven teams in the 18-team league.

Bantu Rovers were first to be condemned to the First Division in match day 28 after they were beaten 5-0 by Harare City. Rovers’ young talented players seem to have failed to cope with the demands and rigours of the topflight league.

Tsholotsho were next to get the chop on Matchday 31 following a 1-0 loss to Chicken Inn. The team had become masters of relegation survival in the past two seasons but failed to make it this season.

Upon their relegation, coach Darlington Dodo said: “It’s unfortunate that people haven’t been noticing these players. They are a bunch of talented players and can easily walk into most teams. They just need a chance. It’s unfortunate that they got into the groove late. I urge teams to look at these boys in the last games.”

Bulawayo City had to scrap for their survival on the final day of the season with the axe hovering over them.

However, four goals from Newman Sianchali and another from Trevor Ndlovu in a 5-0 drubbing of Bantu Rovers ensured their dance in the topflight continues.

Hwange, who needed nothing short of victory to survive, failed where it mattered most when they went down 0-2 to ZPC Kariba.

Chicken Inn were the best performers from the region and at some point topped the league table and were odds on favourites to clinch the title, but fluffed along the way. They eventually finished fourth with 61 points.

Highlanders had a season to forget with their sixth place finish following a poor season marked by yoyo performances.

In addition to their inconsistent performances, Bosso’s season was also rocked by numerous internal squabbles ranging from upheavals within the technical team and industrial action by players.

Assistant coaches Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu and Amini Soma-Phiri were sanctioned and left the first team dugout, leaving Dutchman Elroy Akbay to complete the season with the help of Bosso 90 coach Melusi Sibanda.

Akbay also added to the intrigue by announcing that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season at a time the team was performing badly. This was unprecedented in the local Premiership and some quickly blamed Bosso’s shameful performances on Akbay’s “premature” announcement.

How Mine finished eighth and their nosedive can easily be blamed on disturbances that rocked the club.

A number of strikes by players over pay and allowances affected player morale. — @innocentskizoe

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