Chuchu needs to cast off Mhofu’s shadow

elvis_chiweshe2HARARE - An era has come to an end with Dynamos director of coaching Sunday "Mhofu" Chidzambwa joining South African Premier Soccer League side Free State Stars, but not without leaving a huge shadow hovering over the popular Harare outfit and in particular over club coach Elvis "Chuchu" Chiweshe.

For the first time in more than a decade, Dynamos will be in the CAF Champions League tournament without their highly respected director of coaching. There have always been questions over who exactly called the shots at the Harare giants — Chidzambwa or Chiweshe and before that David “Yogi” Mandigora. The commonly held view is that the head coach — Chiweshe or earlier on Mandigora — was in charge of the team, with the director of coaching only coming in to give advice but that is not the understanding of the DeMbare family who firmly believe they owe all their recent success to Chidzamwa, who has been director of coaching and not the head coach. But was Mandigora or Chiweshe mere frontmen while Chidzambwa pulled the strings behind the scenes? For example, when the experienced Chidzambwa entered the Dynamos dressing room at halftime in the match between Dynamos and Gaborone United of Botswana in the CAF Champions League at the National Sports Stadium and DeMbare eventually hammered the Botswana side 4-1, Dynamos fans were quick to point out that it was Chidzambwa who was coaching the team. “Had it not been for Mhofu, we could have lost the match,” said one fan after the game which laid a solid foundation for the Glamour Boys’ qualification to the money-spinning mini-league stage of the Champions League after they went on to eliminate the Botswana champions 4-2 on aggregate. However, Dynamos chief executive Casper Muzenda says Chidzambwa only came in to help when necessary. “Mandigora and Chiweshe were the coaches with Chidzamba only giving advice when he was required. At the end of the day they helped each other so its difficult to say because it was team work. Chidzambwa only gave advice on certain matters to do with the technical department, ” Muzenda said. But to Dynamos fans Mhofu is untouchable and Chiweshe will have to move mountains to convince them that he has what it takes to lead the popular Harare side. With the Champions League mini league stage draw having been conducted and Dynamos placed in the same group with Esperance of Tunisia, Entente Setief of Algeria and defending champions TP Mazembe of the DRC, Chiweshe has his work cut out. Since 1998 when Dynamos reached the Champions League final before losing to ASEC of the Ivory Coast, there has always been a Chidzambwa touch in DeMbare’s success. In 1999, they reached the mini league stage and in 2008 they reached the semi finals with David Mandigora as head coach but the grapevine had it that as director of coaching, Chidzambwa was the reason for that semi final position. The challenge for Chuchu now is how to convince the DeMbare fans that the Chidzambwa era is gone and now is the time to begin a new page. There is no doubt the affable Chiweshe can only do that through the performance of his team. If he can take Dynamos to at least the semi-finals of the Champions League then he will be home and dry. Nothing less than that, even a domestic league title, will be entertained by a crowd that has always done well in the African safari, of course with Chidzambwa a vital cog of the technical team. What remains to be seen is whether Chiweshe can prove his own man and bury Chidzambwa’s shadow, not only for himself but for future DeMbare coaches. Only time will tell.

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