Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
ZIFA have threatened to mete out severe punishment on unruly supporters following ugly scenes that tainted the Bob 91 Super Cup play-off between CAPS United and Highlanders at Barbourfields at the weekend.
CAPS United won the match 2-1 to set up a date with arch-rivals Dynamos in the final this Sunday, courtesy of goals from Rodreck Mutuma and Takudzwa Mahori, while Obadiah Tarumbwa reduced the arrears for Bosso.
The match, however, was marred by episodes of violence which caused stoppages as Makepekepe, at one point, threatened to walk out of the pitch after a barrage of missile attacks from the pre-dominantly Highlanders fans in the terraces.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said the association was getting exceedingly worried by the growing tendency of hooliganism at high-profile football matches played in the country, especially at Barbourfields.
“It’s worrying that some people are bent on causing problems at football matches. The trend has been growing and as Zifa we will impose severe sanctions which include banning unrepentant offenders from setting their foot at our football stadiums. We don’t want such elements anywhere near our football venues. Football is all about fun and friendships.
“We are saddened by the growing unwelcome habit at match venues across the country which is tainting the image of Zimbabwean football at the same time risking the lives of peace-loving football supporters.
“It is disturbing that the 12th player is still grappling with the basic tenets of Fair Play. We are going to look into the incident and all found to have crossed the line will be duly punished since this reflects negatively on our game and it endangers the lives of many innocent fans.
“It is high time these unruly elements get their deserved punishment since they have been taking football for granted for a long time with only their clubs feeling the pinch of paying fines.
“Nonetheless, we also encourage clubs to engage their supporters and enlighten them on the dangers and costs of hooliganism”, said Gwesela.
The Bob 91 Super Cup, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, is a pre-season tournament sanctioned by Zifa and this year it involved the country’s Big Three — Dynamos, CAPS United and Highlanders. One of the organisers of the tournament, Charles “CNN” Mabika, said the incidents of violence were unfortunate as they marred what had been a good afternoon of entertaining football on Sunday.
CAPS United goalkeeper Victor Twaliki was one of the victims of the missile-throwing crowds and the referee had to enforce a 12-minute stoppage as CAPS United coach Mark Harrison ordered his boys off the pitch.
Mabika, however, said they are expecting an incident-free final at Rufaro on Sunday when Dynamos and CAPS United meet.
“We had a fantastic attendance and the two teams gave their best in terms of football. Everything was okay except for the unfortunate incidents when fans threw missiles onto the pitch.
“It’s something that is always likely to happen in such high tension games. But we don’t always expect that. It was sad because it seemed like it was only a couple of people who had come to cause trouble.
“But we are happy the police reacted swiftly and soon after that the game proceeded smoothly. We had a strong force of 100 or so police details and I think they responded well to make sure everyone was safe. We are not anticipating trouble in the final (on Sunday at Rufaro) but the police, as usual, will be at their posts to make sure that there is no trouble. We are working flat out to ensure that.
“People should not fear to come with their families for the final because it’s a worthy occasion. Football is for enjoyment and we are now looking forward to an exciting final,” said Mabika.
The veteran football commentator said violence had no place in football. The organisers were still to finalise on the gate charges by yesterday afternoon. People paid $2 for the cheapest ticket at Barbourfields, with the Upper Grand stand pegged at $5 and $10 for the VIP.
“Remember these two teams met recently in another pre-season match. So we are expecting another humdinger clash because Dynamos are gearing for revenge while CAPS United are saying the days of playing second fiddle to their arch-rivals are over. It all points to a very exciting game,” said Mabika.
Mbwando cries for BF
My good old Barbourfields Stadium, you carry a lot of history, memories and great moments.
It used to be an honour to play on your turf.
You were the home ground for all our national Under-23 teams, you were the birthplace of great footballers like the Ndlovu brothers, Nkonjera, just to name but a few.
But today you are being used as a battlefield for violence, you loved to host anyone from everywhere around the country, unfortunately we can’t take our mothers, grandparents and our children to you to see our lovely game which is supposed to be a family game, but now you’re too dangerous for me to take my little sister to witness the magic you used to provide on your green turf.
You have become dangerous, it is not safe to be around you when big games are played and I know you still want to give birth to some more stars from Matabeleland, but you are just being abused by those running the game who do not provide enough security you need when big games are played.
I cry with you BF because I know you were once one of the best places to be when it comes to football, but now you are scary . . . I cry with you BF.
- George Mbwando is a former Zimbabwe international player who is now based in Germany.