When substitute Washington Navaya headed home the goal which was likely to decide the ‘Battle of Zimbabwe’ before it was abandoned due to crowd trouble, Mandla Mpofu’s joy was there for all to see.
He thought he had saved his job, which was reportedly hanging by a thread, by the giving the Bosso executive and fans what they crave for the most – a victory over Dynamos at Babourfields.
That would have been their second win over their arch-rivals under his guidance in less than a month, after the Uhuru Cup triumph on April 18.
What Lulu, as the former Warriors coach is affectionately known in Bulawayo, didn’t realize, is that his fate had already been sealed when Bosso came from behind to force a 2-2 draw with Bulawayo Chiefs a few weeks ago.
Highlanders were 11th on the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table ahead of the Dynamos clash and winless in the last four matches – a development which left their ever-demanding faithful, furious.
A section of the media in Bulawayo pushed for his sacking, and struggled to hide their wish for Mpofu’s assistant Joey Lupahla, to take over.
One didn’t require magnifying glasses to see that Lupahla was the man the preferred for the position by our media colleagues in the City of Kings.
The supposed string of poor results was a 10-game unbeaten run which included games against Chicken Inn, CAPS United, FC Platinum and Dynamos but that was regarded as not good enough.
Sakunda Holdings’ sponsorship package had Bosso fans daring to dream about winning the league, and their arch-rivals DeMbare being in the title picture with the same budget, made things worse for Lulu.
The last Bosso captain to lift the championship is Gilbert Banda in 2006 and somehow, the Bosso community genuinely believes this current team is good enough to fight for the title and that Lulu is the the reason they aren’t doing so.
Lulu failed to control that media onslaught and ended up making more enemies than friends within the fourth estate.
Apart from the ‘string of poor results’, what irked the Bosso community the most was the coach’s continuous talk of the team fighting for the title.
Whether he genuinely believe it is good enough to do so or he simply told the fans what they wanted to hear, is a debate which might go until the cows come home but Bosso being anywhere near the title picture, with respect to the current squad, was always going to be a mountain to climb for Lulu.