MUTARE-BASED Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) outfit, Tenax FC worked long and hard to end the season on top of the Eastern Region Division One League and earn the much coveted Premiership promotion, but as fate would have it, the winner of the sole ticket to the top-flight league will not be decided on the field of play, but in the boardroom.
The Eastern Region Soccer League (ERSL) executive will meet in Mutare tomorrow (Saturday) to deliberate on the merits and demerits of a case filed by Bikita Minerals, alleging that their opponents on the final day of the season — Grayham FC — used an ineligible player.
Just when Tenax FC seemed to have sealed promotion into the Castle Lager Premier League after walloping hapless JM Busha 6-1 at Mutare Showgrounds Sport Arena on a day fellow title chasing, Bikita Minerals and FC WanguMazodze settled for similar one-all draws against Grayham and Renco Mine, respectively.
The combination of results left Tenax FC on top of the log with a tally of 57, while Bikita Minerals and FC WanguMazodze remained tied on second position with 56 points each.
However, the decision on which team will be promoted into the country’s flagship football league now depends on whether the ERSL decides to award Bikita Minerals three points from their match against Grayham FC or not.
The Bikita Minerals query
In a letter written to ZIFA Eastern Region Soccer League (ERSL) board, Bikita Minerals FC allege that Grayham FC used Munyaradzi Machipisa’s ZIFA identity card on Calvin Tinashe Chiwere, a Melfort FC player.
Bikita Minerals FC are praying for Grayham FC to be punished and the game be awarded to them for using an ineligible player.
Technically, if ERSL executive decides to award Bikita Minerals maximum points, it means the lithium miners will get the sole Premiership promotion ticket.
If the ERSL decides to dock three points from Grayham and make the Ruwa based outfit pay a fine, then Tenax FC proceeds to play in the top-flight league next season.
Tenax feel hard done
After popping the champagne bottles throughout Sunday night, the least Tenax FC family expected was a delay in the modalities of their Premiership promotion process.
With die hard and dedicated fans, mainly ZPCS staff who spent the season following their beloved team using personal resources, ChauyaChikara, as the club is fondly referred to, has every reason to feel hard done.
Tenax FC club executive member, Lloyd Chinawa said: “The most surprising thing about this whole drama is that ZIFA had their official on the ground when Grayham played against Bikita Minerals. How did the official let the match proceed without solving the anomaly of the alleged ineligible player?
“What was the purpose or rationale of financing the travel and subsistence of ZIFA officials to this season’s final round matches if they could not solve such a simple issue before kick-off?”
Perhaps Tenax have a cogent argument in smelling a rat, given the fact that the ZPCS club played against Renco Mine in June and it was discovered before the encounter that Renco Mine had two ineligible players.
The issue was resolved over the phone with ZIFA officials checking their data base and confirmed that the two players must not take part in that match.
Now, ZIFA had its official(s) on the ground, but could not solve that single and simple query.
Grayham plead not guilty
But the team at the centre of the controversy, Grayham, insists that the player in question, as well as all others they fielded on the day, are eligible and registered players for the club.
In an interview this week, Grayham chairman, Gray Hama, told Post Sports that the lithium miners are now desperate to get Premiership promotion by any means necessary.
He said he is surprised that Bikita Minerals captured a lot of detail in their letter of complaint, but never bothered to cover acts of violence they perpetrated, including assaulting the match official of the day.
“The issue being raised by Bikita Minerals FC over the alleged ineligible player is neither here nor there. It is baseless. The player in question, as well as all others they fielded on the day, are eligible and registered players for the club.
“We have all the evidence to prove that at any given point. I am surprised that Bikita Minerals captured a lot of detail in the letter of complaint to ZIFA Eastern Region Soccer League Region, but never bothered to cover acts of violence they perpetrated, including assaulting the match official of the day,” said Hama.
The ERSL chairman will have the last word
Ina separate interview, ERSL chairman, Davison Muchena said: “We have received a complaint from Bikita Minerals FC regarding allegations of the use of an unregistered player.
“The executive committee will go through the availed evidence this Saturday in Mutare and see how best we can address the issue. The Eastern Region had the best season this term since inception in 2001.
“The competition was unbelievably top grade. However, it is our hope that it will end fairly with all our stakeholders accepting the final decision.
“As the executive committee, our job is to make sure that all is done above board and according to the laws or rules and regulations governing play in our league. We will not transgress outside the confines of our own rules. At the end of the day, football must be the winner.”