. . . Yogi’s eight-man defence shield shows early promise

ULTRA DEFENSIVE FIREWALLRobson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
DAVID Mandigora appears to have turned to the same Ultra-Defensive Firewall, which he used to end Dynamos’ 10-year wait for the Premiership title eight-years-ago, as he plots another success story in his comeback season at the Glamour Boys.

The DeMbare legend was the architect of his team’s championship victory in 2007, which brought an end to the longest barren spell without a league title for the Glamour Boys, in the club’s illustrious 52-year history.

Mandigora used an Ultra-Defensive Firewall, for that successful championship campaign, with his team conceding just 15 goals — at an average of a goal every two league games — as they marched to victory in the marathon.

That Dynamos team conceded the least number of goals in the entire Premiership campaign that year, and such was their impressive defensive display, the second best defensive team that season, Masvingo United, conceded nine more goals.

Almost half of the teams in that championship race in 2007 — CAPS United, Motor Action, Monomotapa, Njube Sundowns, Chapungu, Shooting Stars, Lengthens — failed to score a goal against Dynamos in their back-to-back fixtures in the league.

Only Black Rhinos, in a stunning 3-1 win over the Glamour Boys, and Hwange, in a 2-2 draw in Harare, scored more than just a single goal, in their league confrontations, against Mandigora’s men that season.

In 18 of their 30 league games, that Class of the Glamour Boys did not concede a goal in matches against Motor Action (2-0; 0-0); CAPS United (0-0; 1-0); Monomotapa (2-0; 1-0); Chapungu (2-0; 1-0); Njube Sundowns (1-0;1-0); Eastern Lions (1-0); Masvingo United (1-0); Highlanders (0-0); Shooting Stars (0-0); Lengthens (0-0); Njube Sundowns (1-0); Lancashire Steeel (2-0); Mwana Africa (3-0).

In their last seven league matches, that DeMbare side did not concede a goal as they took 17 out of a possible 21 points, winning five games against Masvingo United (1-0), Shooting Stars (2-0), Mwana Africa (3-0), Lancashire Steel (3-0) and Lancashire Steel (2-0) while drawing against Highlanders (0-0) and Motor Action (0-0).

DeMbare lost four games that season against Eastern Lions (0-1), Masvingo United (0-1), Mwana Africa (0-1) and Rhinos (1-3), and all the losses came within the Glamour Boys’ first 11 games of the season, which means that they were unbeaten in the last 19 league matches of that campaign.

Interestingly, three of the clubs that beat Dynamos that year — Eastern Lions, Mwana Africa and Black Rhinos — were relegated from the Premiership, at the end of the season, which meant that only one team, of those that survived, was good enough to beat them.

Eight years after trusting his Ultra-Defensive Firewall to end DeMbare’s barren 10-year search for the league title, Mandigora appears to have gone back to the system that served him well, if his first two league games in his comeback season are anything to go by.

DeMbare are yet to concede a goal after a 3-0 win over Buffaloes and a 1-0 win, away from home, against Chapungu at Ascot where the airmen were virtually unbeatable in the league last year.

Mandigora has used the same formation, in both matches against Buffaloes and Chapungu, and virtually the same men, with the only one change at Ascot being an enforced one when he had to field Elisha Muroiwa for his skipper Augustine Mbara, who was ruled out of the game as he was on trials in South Africa.

His Ultra-Defensive Firewall has featured eight players, in his starting XI, who know what it means to defend, with only three players — Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo, Walter Mukanga and Simba Nhivi — being the only ones who can be considered out-and-out attackers.

Most coaches would certainly not play a team that features Oscar Machapa and Godknows Murwira in the same side, let alone on the same flank, and the same can be said about Ocean Mushure and Qadr Amini.

But Mandigora has found a way to manage his resources, ensuring that Machapa and Amini, who both have good defensive values, and can attack as well, can play in advanced roles on the flanks, and when either Murwira or Mushure overlap, they fall back into defensive roles, where they are both comfortable.

He has given Mukanga the opportunity to thrive once again, after the midfielder appeared to be overwhelmed by the pressure that comes with playing for Dynamos last year despite an impressive start, and he appears to be relishing his time back in the first team.

Chitiyo, the little magician, returned to Dynamos just when the Glamour Boys — given the way they have been lining themselves up with a team pregnant with defensive personnel, needed someone with that X-Factor to provide the spark that such a team regularly needs.

Nhivi and Mukanga scored in the first game against Buffaloes and Chitiyo was on target against Chapungu, which means that the attacking trio have opened their account in the opening two games but, as was the case when Yogi was first in charge of the team eight years ago, this project appears to be about a defence that sucks life out of the opposition.

Interestingly, when DeMbare dominated the domestic football scene, before their fall from grace after marching to the final of the African Champions League in 1998, they built their dominance on a defensive platform that gave away very little to the opposition.

That was the Glamour Boys of Sunday Chidzambwa.

Now, Mandigora appears to be taking a leaf from that booklet, something which helped him to win a league championship with the Glamour Boys eight years ago, and the Ultra-Defensive Firewall is back in fashion at the country’s most successful football team.

Dynamos’ League Results In 2007 Under Mandigora
Eastern Lions 1-0 Dynamos;

Dynamos 2-1 Hwange;

Motor Action 0-2 Dynamos;

Masvingo United 1-0 Dynamos;

Highlanders 1-2 Dynamos;

Dynamos 4-1 Shooting Stars;

Mwana Africa 1-0 Dynamos;

Lancashire Steel 1-1 Dynamos;

Dynamos 0-0 CAPS United;

CAPS FC 1-2 Dynamos;

Dynamos 1-3 Black Rhinos;

Monomotapa 0-2 Dynamos;

Dynamos 1-0 Njube Sundowns;

Lengthens 0-0 Dynamos;

Dynamos 2-0 Chapungu;

CAPS United 0-1 Dynamos;

Dynamos 4-1 CAPS FC;

Black Rhinos 0-2 Dynamos;

Dynamos 1-0 Monomotapa;

Njube Sundowns 0-1 Dynamos;

Dynamos 2-1 Lengthens;

Chapungu 0-1 Dynamos;

Dynamos 0-0 Eastern Lions;

Hwange 2-2 Dynamos;

Dynamos 0-0 Motor Action;

Dynamos 1-0 Masvingo United;

Dynamos 0-0 Highlanders;

Shooting Stars 0-2 Dynamos;

Dynamos 3-0 Mwana Africa;

Dynamos 2-0 Lancashire Steel