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Joel Ngodzo is an old lion that refuses to die – Chronicle

The Chronicle

Stanford Chiwanga, Online News Editor
WHEN he first broke into the Highlanders first team, he was hailed as the next Johannes Ngodzo.

A creative midfielder blessed with astounding abilities.

The comparison was not off the mark.

The comfort on the ball was similar, the coolness, the calmness, the crafty pass, the dexterity, the skill and the collected manner was hard not to compare.

The bravery in the occasional tackle, the eye for goals and that killer pass made sure that Joel ‘Josta’ Ngodzo was regarded as the rock of Highlanders and the national team after many had tried and failed.

Here was an extraordinary, almost the perfect midfield hybrid.

He displayed the passing brain of Ronald Sibanda, the surging forward drive of Richard Choruma and the switch of play of his elder brother.

Assured performance after assured performance, Zimbabwe was held spellbound by a magician who came from a family that gave us Johannes.

It was not surprising when he was voted the second best player in Zimbabwe in 2010.

The dazzling performances not only won him adulation and accolades but caught the eye of FC Platinum, the rich boys of the league.

It came as no surprise when FC Platinum came knocking and snapped him with ease in 2011, thanks to the mega bucks of their wealthy owners.

In the 2011, Josta was expected to be thrown into world stardom in a Highlanders shirt. Zimbabwe’s top young player could help Highlanders win the league title which they last won in 2006 butt that was not to be.

FC Platinum came knocking on his door with a big cheque and he jumped ship.

The talk was not the controversy of leaving Bosso for FC Platinum but how FC Platinum who were assembling a team of local galacticos, could use him.

Was he going to be the nerve centre of the team? The creative hub from where all FC Platinum attacks could be launched?

Was he going to be able to wave his magic wand without the backing of a full stadia?

At Highlanders the cheers from the fans provided the fuel to his fire.

Things did not work out well for Josta.

What was supposed to be a dream move quickly turned into a nightmare. He failed to adapt to life in Zvishavane.

Most tellingly, he failed to reproduce the form that had made him the darling of the Highlanders fans.

The coaches at FC Platinum seemed unsure of how to use him.

In a nutshell, he was like a rabbit in the headlights.

He was lost.

His performances garnered criticism, with the FC Platinum fans accusing him of not being committed to the cause.

Poor performance after poor performance saw the coaches losing patience and with time he found himself on the bench.

There were purple patches here and there, but largely his performances were below par.

There were more lows than highs during his spell in Zvishavane and the decisive 2013 was the nadir of his FC Platinum stretch as he found himself more and more on the bench.

Lloyd Mutasa, the then FC Platinum gaffer, told Josta that he should lose weight if he wanted to play for him – in other words Josta was too fat.

Those closest to him said that he lost his way and took out his frustrations on junk food, alcohol and barbequed meat after it dawned on him that he did not have the support of his coaches.

Suddenly Ngodzo found himself not so quite convincing and the excuse used in 2013 was that he was no longer able to cope with the pace of the game.

He came up short against teams that played direct and fast football.

His fall was hard to ignore because Ngodzo is a once in a lifetime player. Players like him are hard to find.

It is not every day that Zimbabwe births a footballer blessed with a crafty-deadly pass and a brutal eye for goals.

For many the demise of Josta was a cataclysmic capitulation so bad that it still almost defies belief.

Thumbs up to him for refusing to give up the ghost at the first sign that the end was near.

The determination to linger on as long as possible and the defiance have always been synonymous with Ngodzo.

In his mind, FC Platinum betrayed him and did not live up to the promises they made to him. So, he decided he wanted out.

He wanted to be a footballer again.

He wanted to regain lost status.

He wanted to be the centre of attraction.

He wanted to be among the best players again. There was only one club he was going to join.

The only club he believed could help him become the player he was and that was Highlanders.

But the script did not go according to plan.

He wanted to be on the field of play, creating chances for his teammates and scoring goals for Highlanders.

He failed. Again. So he left for Caps United, determined to show them all that Josta was still Josta.

And, boy, he did silence his critics as he was crowned the soccer star of the year in 2019.

How did the player who was called fat and lazy climb from the deep hole he found himself in?

It was the fighting spirit of the man that saw him raise his game.

He was told that he was done but he did not listen to his critics, he did not let the opinions of sheep kill the lion in him.

But all lions die eventually, including the king of the jungle. Ngodzo has since failed to reproduce the form of 2019. He left Caps United.

He even went to Zambia and joined BuildCon but he did not scale the heights of the past.

In the second half of the 2021 season, he joined Highlanders.

The scarred lion of many battles was home for one more shot.

The dying horse wanted to go out with a thunderous kick. It was not to be.

While former Highlanders coach Mandla Mpofu allowed the lion to roam the corridors he once ruled, Baltermar Brito, the coach who replaced Mandla, did not have time for history lessons and nostalgia.

Baltermar Brito

“About Joel, he doesn’t belong to our squad. We wish him all the luck in the next step of his career.

With us he was a professional player.

We released him because we don’t care about status but care about performance.

We felt he couldn’t fit what we requested for the position he took in the field.

So, the status of him we know is big, we don’t care about status, but performance, but we’re with the people that we know and think can fit the request for the positions that they have.

“He was very professional when he was with us.

Maybe he can go to the other side and do well because he is not a bad player.

It was only a technical decision.

We looked at him and felt that he doesn’t have the details and background needed for that position, so maybe it’s better that he goes,” Brito said as he let Ngodzo, who has since re-joined Caps United, go.

Some say Ngodzo needs to realise and accept that he is now in the summit of his career and walk away from football.

They are convinced that there is no way he is still able to play regularly.

If he insists that he still has it, someone will put the old warrior out of his misery.

He no longer has the legs to carry him for a few more years even though the talent remains.

But ruling out Ngodzo is a gamble.

One must admire the fighting spirit of the man, a spirit that has seen him rule out retirement after Bosso let him go.

He does not want it dictated to him; he will leave when he wants to leave – he still believes that he has it.

And if he does have it, then he must use it ruthlessly because failure to shame his critics will see him reluctantly falling on his sword.

If Ngodzo unravels that pit in his gut, he is going to blow people away.

The only obstacle in his way is his confidence.

If he overcomes that psychological hurdle, he will certainly make his critics eat the proverbial humble pie.

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Expresso National and International Sports News Update at 1:30 pm on 11th August, 2022 – The Indian Express

You are listening to the Expresso Sports Update. Here is the latest news from the world of Indian and International Sports brought to you by The Indian Express.
“Let us begin today’s bulletin with some news on The FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which could start one day earlier than scheduled with FIFA looking at a plan to let the host nation play Ecuador on Nov. 20, a person familiar with the proposal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person said a decision could be made within days by a committee comprised of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the heads of the six continental soccer bodies. The proposal to create a 29-day tournament instead of the long-planned 28 has been favoured by Qatari officials and South American soccer body CONMEBOL, with talks also involving the Qatar and Ecuador soccer federations.”
“Real Madrid outplayed Eintracht Frankfurt by 2-0 on Wednesday to clinch the UEFA Super Cup for a record-equalling fifth time and started their season with a trophy.

David Alaba scored a goal in the first half and another one from Karim Benzema in the 65th that lifted him to second in Real’s all-time scoring list with 324 goals only behind Cristiano Ronaldo, wrapped up the title for the Spaniards.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid manager said, “Eintracht were very closed and we found it difficult to find our rhythm, but we did it well then. It’s difficult at the beginning of the season to be in top form but we now have won to start the season well.””
“Meanwhile,

Mark Parsons, the coach who took the defending champion Netherlands to the quarterfinals of the women’s European Championships, has left the job by mutual agreement with the Dutch soccer federation.

The Royal Netherlands Football Federation, known by its local acronym KNVB, announced Parsons’ departure on Wednesday. It called the team’s play and results at the tournament “disappointing.”

Parsons succeeded Sarina Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to the European title on home soil in 2017 and repeated the feat with England last month.

He had been in the job since May last year with a contract through the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Parsons joined the Dutch team from the Portland Thorns in the U.S. National Women’s Soccer League.”
“In what would come as a shock to Manchester United fans, Ryan Giggs, a man adored in the hallowed corridors of Old Trafford, was shaken off his pedestal when he was accused by his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville of assault and use of coercive behaviour.

On Monday, Giggs stood trial for the aforementioned charges, with the prosecutors claiming, “Giggs has a more sinister side to his character.” Greville told the court that Giggs promised her kids and demanded sex all the time while he was dating eight other women. She also said the former Wales coach had headbutted her and nearly split her lip open after she refused to give him her phone, according to The Sun.”
“The 48-year-old Giggs is accused of assaulting Kate Greville, 36, and causing actual bodily harm at his home in Worsley, Greater Manchester in November 2020. He is also charged with common assault of Greville’s younger sister during the same incident, as well as using controlling and coercive behaviour toward his former girlfriend between August 2017 and November 2020.

Giggs has denied all of the charges. He stood down as manager of the Wales national team in June, saying he didn’t want to jeopardize preparations for the World Cup later this year in Qatar.”
“Moving on,

Australia women’s cricket team outplayed India in the Commonwealth Games 2022 final as they fell short of just 9 runs on Sunday. After grabbing the gold medal at Birmingham, Australian skipper Meg Lanning decided to take an indefinite break.

The World’s number 2 T20I batter Lanning has cited personal reasons for the decision, with no return date set. She was to feature in The Hundred for the Trent Rockets after the recently concluded Commonwealth Games 2022.

Lanning said in a statement, “After a busy couple of years, I’ve decided to take a step back to enable me to spend time focusing on myself,” ”
“Meanwhile,

Kane Williamson played a brilliant knock of 47 runs and a dashing 33 from 15 balls by Jimmy Neesham propelled New Zealand to a 13-run win over the West Indies in the first of three Twenty20 cricket internationals.

Neesham smashed three fours from the last three balls and 23 runs from the last over of the innings as New Zealand scored 185-5 after being sent in to bat at Sabina Park on Wednesday.

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner bagged 3-19 as New Zealand restricted the West Indies to 172-7 in 20 overs.”
“Lastly,

A batting-friendly pitch still proved too much trouble for Zimbabwe as Bangladesh got a 105-run consolation win in their third and final one-day international on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe had already clinched the series by winning the first two games but was bowled out for 151 at Harare Sports Club in 32.2 overs while chasing Bangladesh’s 256-9. Opener Anamul Haque made 76 from 71 balls for Bangladesh and No. 6 Afif Hossain was 85 not out from 81 to set up the visitors’ total.”

“You were listening to the Expresso Sports Update by The Indian Express. Ask your digital assistant device to play the latest sports news from the Indian Express to
stay up to date with the most accurate and reliable updates in the world of Sports.”

Click here to listen to yesterday’s Sports News Update

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Brazil soccer body rejects World Cup qualifier against Argentina – New Zimbabwe.com

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By Associated Press


SAO PAULO: Brazil insisted that it won’t play its suspended World Cup qualifying match against Argentina next month, arguing Wednesday that the risks are too high ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

The qualifier nearly one year ago in Sao Paulo was stopped by local health officials after six minutes due to COVID-19 protocols regarding four Argentinian players.

FIFA fined the soccer bodies of both countries and demanded the match be played. Brazil’s confederation and Argentina’s federation took the case to the Court for Arbitration of Sport, which is expected to rule later in August. The game would be in September but FIFA has not set a date.

Brazil coach Tite does not want to play the match due to risks of injuries, suspensions and a potential boycott by the Argentinians, according to Brazilian confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues.

Brazilian media has reported the Selecao would rather play two friendlies in Europe.

“We will reach out to FIFA so this match is not played. I will make every effort to answer to the request of our coaching staff,” Rodrigues said in a statement. “Our priority is to win the World Cup in Qatar. If that match is not recommended by the coaching staff of the Selecao, we will work for it not to be played.”

Brazil and Argentina qualified regardless of that suspended encounter’s result.

In Qatar, Brazil is in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. Argentina is in Group C with Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

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FIFA looks to start World Cup in Qatar one day earlier – New Zimbabwe.com

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By Associated Press


GENEVA: Host nation Qatar is set to play in the opening game of its own World Cup tournament after all — and on a stand-alone day being added to the schedule barely 100 days before kickoff.

Soccer’s marquee tournament is now set start one day earlier than originally scheduled seven years ago in a move that would allow Qatar to play Ecuador on Nov. 20, a person familiar with the proposal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the matter.

The proposal will be put before a committee comprised of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the heads of the six continental soccer bodies, the person said. A decision is expected this week.

According to a letter sent by FIFA this week and seen by the AP, the governing body is asking for approval from the continental soccer bodies by Thursday.

Qatar should now get an exclusive Sunday slot for its opening ceremony and World Cup debut at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium.

The World Cup is currently scheduled to start on Nov. 21, a Monday, based on a FIFA decision in 2015 after it agreed to push back the tournament to avoid the extreme desert heat in June and July. FIFA also got agreement for a shorter, 28-day program to minimize disruption to domestic soccer, especially in Europe, which will shut down ahead of the World Cup.

Recent World Cup tradition gave 2014 host Brazil and 2018 host Russia exclusive opening days to play their first opponents. But the tighter schedule in Qatar called for four games daily for the entire group stage — 48 games in 12 days.

At the tournament draw in Doha on April 1, the Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador landed in Group A with Qatar. The Dutch and Senegal were allocated the 1 p.m. local time start and Qatar was to play Ecuador in the third game with an evening kickoff six hours later.

The proposal to create a 29-day tournament instead of 28 has been favored by Qatari officials and South American soccer body CONMEBOL, with talks also involving the Qatar and Ecuador soccer federations, the person told the AP.

FIFA acknowledged in its letter that changing the date, after tickets have been sold, would affect some traveling fans. However, FIFA said “any risk is sufficiently outweighed by the value and benefits of the proposal” commercially.

A Qatar-Ecuador game involves only a few players who are with European clubs. Several on the likely Ecuador roster play for clubs in Spain, the United States and Mexico, where leagues stop play ahead of the Nov. 12-13 weekend.

The schedule switch would have been tougher to agree to if Qatar was scheduled to open against the Netherlands, which has key members playing until Nov. 13 with clubs in England and Italy.

Because of the proposal, FIFA is expected to push back the Netherlands-Senegal from the lunchtime start to the early evening slot that would be vacated by Qatar.

While an opening game on a Sunday evening in Qatar should play well with viewers in Asia and Europe, in the United States it puts the World Cup in direct competition with NFL games. The U.S. soccer team plays its World Cup opener against Wales as the late Monday game in Qatar.

The 2022 World Cup is the first in the tournament’s 92-year history to be played outside of the traditional northern hemisphere summer. The previous 21 editions were all played between late-May and the end of July.

The Nov. 21-Dec. 18 tournament schedule was agreed to so European clubs could play on the Nov. 12-13 weekend before releasing their players to the 32 World Cup teams. Changing opening day should not alter the tournament rule that players must report from their clubs to national teams no later than Nov. 14, FIFA said in its letter.

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