IT is my fervent hope that I find you in high spirits following your team’s impressive show in the just-ended Castle Lager Premiership season where your club ended in second position.
By any measure, this was a commendable achievement, given that this is the highest position that your club has ended the season in its three-year existence in the country’s top-flight league.
Congratulations are in order, for that feat!
Before I forget, thank you for that free ride from Cresta Jameson in Harare to Cresta Lodge last Saturday morning after the soccer stars of the year night banquet.
These are the little things of life we may never appreciate and yet so valuable.
To me, these are the small gestures that show brotherly love and I value them a lot.
Having said that Elder, I should hasten to revert to the crux of my epistle.
Even though the city, and the province of Manicaland at large, has produced a galaxy of football starts that have illuminated different stadia across the country, I am sure you have noticed a certain level of toxicity in the game of football in Mutare.
No wonder, in Mutare’s football circles, there were numerous conspiracy theories about your appointment as Manica Diamonds coach early last year.
This went on to give ammunition to those who have never believed in you when your team had a horrible start to the 2023 Castle Lager Premiership season.
They suddenly found a convenient scapegoat to vent their anger on your appointment, with some even questioning your credibility as a coach in the Premier League.
As fate would have it, things started turning out for the good for the club as your team started collecting points at ‘home’ and on the road.
It was not long before your club temporarily occupied pole position on the table.
The voices of discontent subsided.
You gained, rather earned, respect and admiration.
Having been part of the game at this level for close to two decades now, I know and fully understand that it did not come on a silver platter. You worked hard and duly earned it.
Now that it is that of the year again where you have to select new players and keep the old ones in preparation for next season, I hope and pray that you will do the right thing, not only for the sake of your own curriculum vitae, but for the sake of this community called Manicaland.
It has been very long since we last tasted success, and by success I mean winning a major silverware or the league championship itself, like what the Castle Cup winning Tanganda FC Class of ’93 did.
We badly need that experience again.
As you seek to achieve this, I wish to remind you of the need to recruit players basing on performance, nothing else, but performance!
No doubt, you had one of the strongest, if not the strongest, squad in the entire Premiership.
After all, who, in their right mind, would need an overhaul after ending second on the table?
This is the reason why I will be quick to remind you that there are players who are widely expected to retain their places in the team even if the sun rises from the west.
I strongly feel the likes of Liberty Chakoroma, Brain Chikwenya, Tedious Baye, Trevour Mavhunga, Micheal Tapera and Lawrence Masibera among others are guaranteed of their places in the team next season.
I will not talk about Fortune Bhinzi — find of the 20923 season — it will be a waste of space and energy.
Given that your team will be under acid test as it is likely to be playing its home matches at Sakubva Stadium this time around, believe you me, you surely need some players who will identify with the crowd in the terraces.
By the way, I hope you are fully aware that assembling a team to play before the home crowd at Sakubva Stadium is no child’s play.
There are coaches who exited that match venue in ambulances, not because they needed medical attention, but to evade a vociferous home crowd.
In short, Manicaland needs some of its own in your team.
This is a talent exposure platform they need for their youngsters, a platform they will not find easily in Harare, Bulawayo or even in Kariba.
This is just free advice, Elder!
While you might have your own reasons to drop a crowd favourite like, for example, Pasca Manhanga, I will bet to my last dollar that you will surely pay the price if the team falters.
Mark my words!
Worse still, if you go on to find space for failures like Donald Ngoma, criticism will not be kind on you.
I know these are some of the bitter truths that some people are not comfortable saying out.
For saying all this, I know I risk being placed in the enemy zone in your social circles, but please be reminded that better is an enemy who tells you the truth, than a friend who lies to you to get favours!
Yours in sport,