Football fans in Masvingo watched in disbelief as the Premier Soccer League title slipped through their fingers 18 years ago.
On the final day of the 2005 season, second-placed Masvingo United, who were just two points adrift of log leaders CAPS United, needed a win to wrestle the title away from the Green Machine.
Ironically, Makepekepe’s crosstown rivals Dynamos stood in the way of Masvingo on a rainy afternoon at Mucheke Stadium.
Unfortunately for ‘Asipo Haapo’ they were beaten 1-2 by DeMbare and lost the title to CAPS.
Painfully for Masvingo, Charles Mhlauri’s charges had been beaten 0-3 by army side Black Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium.
Six years after that momentous afternoon, Masvingo United were relegated from the Premiership.
For 12 years, football fans in Masvingo have not tasted top-flight football.
But ambitious Masvingo-based Eastern Region Division One side FC Wangu Mazodze are determined to end the historic city’s forgotten epoch.
“We are the pride and hope of Masvingo Province,” FC Wangu Mazodze spokesperson Sukuouluhle Ndlovu told Soccer24.
“It’s about time we claim our position in the country’s football arena and playing in the Premier Soccer League is our mandate as of now.
“The team goes by the name the Kingdom Boys and for sure the kingdom is ours as we are going to gain promotion this year,” declared Ndlovu.
Mazodze, owned by United States-based businessman Richard Mazodze, also play their home matches at Mucheke.
Former CAPS United defender George Magariro is the head coach and at his disposal are players with Premiership experience —Hillary Bakacheza, formerly with FC Platinum, former ZPC Kariba left back Dexter Phiri, and Nicholas Muchadeyi previously with Chicken Inn.
Mazodze are currently second on the Eastern Region Division One log standings, one point adrift of log leaders Tenax.
Ndlovu believes the backing the team has from the Masvingo football community will spur it in their quest for promotion to the PSL.
“Our support base cuts across a wide spectrum of demographics where we have more than 60 WhatsApp groups where we keep our fans updated,” she said.
“We have a Facebook page with more than 5 000 followers and more than 1000 followers on Twitter. We also have a YouTube channel. We also have international brand ambassadors who are responsible for raising the Zhalala Zhululu flag high.”
Added Ndlovu: “We have a international and national supporters chapter interim committee. Each chapter we set up nationally and internationally also has a supporters committee.
“These supporters committees we set them up to spearhead the brand and make sure the brand is visible everywhere,” Ndlovu said.
Masvingo Mayor Collen Maboke is relishing the prospect of the city opening its doors for Premiership football again.
“We are very happy with the performance of FC Wangu Mazodze, it’s not disappointing us,” said Maboke.
“Whenever they play, either at home or away, they play to the best of their abilities. We have our hopes on FC Wangu Mazodze to bring back Premiership football to Masvingo,” he added.
Maboke urged football fans in Masvingo to rally behind Magariro’s troops in their title charge.
“I’m encouraging all supporters, from both Masvingo United and FC Wangu Mazodze to rally behind the latter, in their quest for promotion,” he said.
In all Shona-speaking parts of Zimbabwe, wangu means mine but in Masvingo, the word is used in reference to a team seeking to revive the city’s romance with Premiership football.