Robson Sharuko, Harare Bureau
PROPHET Walter Magaya has taken full responsibility for the seven-goal humiliation that Premiership newboys Yadah Stars suffered at the hands of strugglers Bantu Rovers in Bulawayo on Saturday that has sent social media into a frenzy as rival fans feast on the club’s spectacular fall after a promising start to life in the top-flight league.
The Harare side, which went unbeaten in their first five league matches in the Premiership and turned themselves into box office attractions after beating ZPC Kariba and Ngezi Platinum, have now lost their last two back-to-back games in what has been a cruel reality check to the demands of life in the top-flight league.
They have only picked one out of a possible nine points in their last three matches, a draw against a Chapungu side that also missed a penalty in that match, while after not conceding in their first four matches, they have now leaked nine goals in their last three.
While losing to Dynamos in their first defeat to the campaign wasn’t surprising, given the gulf in experience between the country’s most successful football club and the Premiership’s newest member, the seven-goal mauling at a struggling Bantu Rovers sent huge shockwaves throughout the country.
It also triggered a social media hysteria with a number of jokes being created by the rival fans and neutrals as they feasted on Yadah’s woes at Luveve including one in which some were saying the football club had turned from a Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries outfit into a Seventh Day Adventist side.
That the massacre came on the day Yadah didn’t have coach Jairos Tapera, or any of his immediate assistants on the bench amid reports they had been suspended for not following Magaya’s instructions on how to approach the match against Dynamos, all helped to stoke the flames of the social media blitzkrieg.
An audio recording posted on social media in which the prophet is said to have told his PHD Ministries followers, that he had fired Tapera and his assistants for daring to challenge his instructions on team selection, not only for the Dynamos but Chapungu game, only helped fuel the fury of the social media reaction and creation.
Club chairman Everton Chatambudza told the media in Bulawayo that the coach had not been fired but there were some in-house issues that the club needed to resolve first and they will issue a statement this week.
Magaya told our sister paper The Herald he took full responsibility for the events in Bulawayo and argued that it had nothing to do with the absence of his coaching staff to direct operations on the day of the massacre but it was all spiritual.
“I called the boys (the players) after the game and told them that it wasn’t their fault and they don’t need to really let what has happened at Luveve affect their confidence and they start doubting themselves,” he said.
“These are things some of them, and some of you, might not understand and it’s all spiritual and l take full responsibility for that because this was very powerful and it took a toll on my players.
“The power of prayer is real and given this is a ministry team, ahead of their trip to Bulawayo, there are prayers that we did in preparation for a service and it ended up affecting my players.
“Some of them were telling me, at half-time, they could barely run, they could barely lift their legs and they were just dragging themselves in that match and couldn’t understand what was happening.
“But l know what affected us in that game and that is why l told the players that l am not blaming any of them and l share their disappointment with what had happened.
“I also told them l don’t buy all these things that are being said that they may have been influenced to sabotage the team because of the issue about the coaches which is currently being sorted out.
“You won’t understand it when l say it was all spiritual and some of the players might not understand it but l do and that is why l am taking responsibility for what happened.”
He said he was ready for the negativity that will stalk him and his team, in the coming days, because that is the way life is.
“I know that there will be a lot of talk, a lot of jokes, a lot of insults maybe and a lot of negative things said about me and the team in the coming days because of what happened in Bulawayo but l am okay with it, for that is the way the game is,” he said.
“I know there are some who have been waiting for such a moment but that’s okay and l’m driven by my beliefs and that is what had taken my team from being a Division Two side just last year to the Premier League and l will always be guided by my prayers.
“Check the number of games that we have lost since we started this football project last year and you will see what l mean and understand why l believe because the bulk of the time we have been blessed and we have come right and there have been moments like the one in Bulawayo, few and far between, in this journey but it hasn’t stopped us from being successful as a club.
“It happens in football and wasn’t it just three years ago when Brazil lost by seven goals to one against Germany in a World Cup match in their home and people were saying this is the end of Brazil as we have known it all along?
“Today, just three years down the line, the same Brazil are number one in the world rankings and they have become the first country to qualify for the next World Cup in Russia and they don’t know when was the last time they lost a game.
“When you are striving for greatness you have to accept that there will be some tough and testing moments but what is important is how you respond when such things happen rather than be destroyed by one incident.
“I will not be deterred by all that because l know what l am doing and l know what is good for us as a club and that is why we have come this far in such a very short period of time and that’s why l believe the future is even brighter.”
He said he even congratulated his players for scoring two goals, for the first time, in a Premiership game.
“I told the boys that l was happy they scored two goals for the first time since we came into the Premier League and, for me, they should use that as an inspiration for their next assignments,” said Magaya.
“Their captain Brian Mapfumo lost a very important member of his family and he is the leader and the boys draw a lot of strength from him and when he is down they are also down and l understand that.
“But that’s why this is called a league championship and not a knockout game where just one loss means you are finished and we have a chance to bounce back and show our true colours against Chicken Inn and I am confident we will get it right because l believe in these boys and what we want to achieve.
“To be frank with you, l was down when we lost to Dynamos, that is a defeat that affected me badly, and not this one against Bantu even though we conceded seven goals.”