THE Castle Soccer Premiership today stars young and exciting talent that did not have the privilege to watch two of perhaps Zimbabwe’s most refined midfielders to emerge to date.
Out of the misty, fog-lined ranges of the Eastern Highlands emerged the mercurial Lloyd Mutasa. And out of the dusty, populous streets of Njube Township rose football elegance personified in the genius that is Rahman Gumbo.
They each cut their teeth at relatively smaller clubs before upping their game and moving towards earning legendary status with dream moves to super clubs Dynamos and Highlanders. Mutasa moved from his boyhood club Tanganda to Dynamos while Gumbo moved from Eagles to cross town rivals Bosso.
Upon arriving at their new clubs, both showed class dominating rivals in the midfield and earning national team call ups. Retiring prematurely through injury, they both made career switches swapping their 90 minutes of on-field excitement for 90 minutes of touchline pressures associated with coaching.
Fast forward to present day and two of the most talented midfield generals ever seen at Rufaro and Barbourfields Stadiums are involved in a tussle for the 2017 Premiership title. Mutasa is with the club that brought him fame as a player and his rival for the 2017 championship is with Chicken Inn in the City of Kings and Queens.
Both clubs struggled at the beginning of the season and both coaches faced uncertain futures. After weathering the storm with their respective teams, both are now solid and favoured candidates for Coach of the Year Award while their respective teams now seem more than suitable candidates for the league title.
Practitioners of elegant passing, uncanny vision and a quiet yet utterly ruthless midfield presence during their playing days, Mutasa and Gumbo have managed to put together playing squads that have been taking points and charging up the Premiership ladder with stunning resolve. From a purely footballing perspective, Mutasa’s Dynamos and Gumbo’s Chicken Inn currently look like one of them is a shoe in for the Championship.
Both have had to fiddle with their squads after losing several key players in the close season. Both coaches have had to bite the bullet and take a chance with young, relatively inexperienced players trusting them to bring home the holy grail of local football. Their genius has been clear as day to all who gave them no chance and wrote them off when the season kicked off.
For Mutasa, winning the title this season will enable to shed years of doubt in his coaching abilities. A title will be his first as a coach and will cement his place among the greats at Dynamos that include Sunday Marimo and Calisto Pasuwa, men who won titles as players and led.
As the battle for the title between the two retired midfield maestros intensifies, all eyes will surely be on the pair as the season heads towards what will most definitely be an exciting finale to the 2017 Castle Premier Soccer League! — @AllanFoti