Dynamos give Zimbabwe an unlikely success story
Rampant inflation in the southern African nation has robbed life of its conveniences, leading instead to shortages, blackouts and a set of bizarre daily rituals, like customers racing around the supermarket to keep up with the employees changing price tags.
The power sharing agreement signed by Robert Mugabe and his arch rival Morgan Tsvangirai was the first bit of good news in a long time for the beleaguered country; now there has been a second fillip as Zimbabwe’s most popular club have unexpectedly made it to the African Champions League semi-finals.
Dynamos have not been immune to the crisis in the country. Twice they have almost missed out on making away trips in the competition because they could not find enough foreign currency to pay for airline tickets.
They were forced to turn to fans and benefactors to scrape money together for trips to north Africa, eventually arriving just hours before the scheduled kick-off.
It has demanded a level of patience and tolerance from the players that few other footballers, in similar circumstances at the same level of a competition anywhere in the world, would ever be capable of.
But even the Dynamos squad has a limit and at the weekend there were threats of a strike as players haggled over bonus money … and just how much it would go up to keep pace with the ever-changing level of inflation.
Remarkably, 24 hours later they were overcoming Zamalek of Egypt in Harare to win their last group match and ensure progress to the semi-finals of the continent’s top club competition.
Dynamos were surprise Champions League finalists a decade ago but had not played in the competition since. Now back, they are again threatening to dispel all the accepted norms of success in the game.
Sometimes adversity provides the fuel which drives players to extraordinary feats and given the cricumstances this is some achievement.
Mark Gleeson covers the African Champions League for Reuters
FILE PHOTO: Lazarus Muhoni celebrates scoring for Dynamos against Al Ahly during their African Champions League soccer match in Cairo Stadium, August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh