THE year 2019 is coming to an end on Tuesday and naturally this is the time to reflect on the world of sport’s positives and the negatives that happened during the year.

2019 will certainly go down in the annals of history as one year in which the county showed great potential on the field of play but the economic challenges bedevilling the country emerged as a major challenge to most athletes and teams.

The year that the Gems shined so brightly

Netball as a sport, for once, came to the fore as a potential medal winning discipline for the country, thanks to the outstanding exploits of the senior women’s national team during the unforgettable World Cup tournament held in Liverpool, England.

The Gems earned the admiration and respect of many across the globe with their spirited performance during the global sporting showpiece.

Sakubva Stadium madness continues

To imagine that Manicaland’s provincial capital of Mutare does not have a stadium fit to host top-flight league football matches while a small town in the same province like Rusape has one, does not only defy logic but is shameful.

Renovations at Sakubva Stadium, which have dragged on more than two years now, have seen Mutare City Council failing to complete the construction of a precast wall around the stadium. To date, the construction of a precast wall is yet to be finished while different excuses on incapacitation are now a familiar chorus.

Merciless Mercenaries

dominate

For many in Manicaland, basketball outfit could provide lasting memories after their sterling performance that saw the Innocent Stolz Sithole-led outfit outplaying competitors to lift the coveted national championships title.

Mercenaries came a long way and in most cases came so near yet so far to winning this annual basketball tournament. However, the long wait came to an end and it had to be in 2019 that the star-studded outfit won the contest and earned the right to represent the country at the regional competition held in South Africa.

Mountain Goats dominate Logan Cup

Moutaineers’ third straight Logan Cup triumph is also a source of pride for folks in Manicaland as the cricket franchise reaffirmed their dominance in that format of the gentlemen’s game.

Even though cricket fans in Matare continue to be sidelined in terms of hosting top-flight cricket action at Mutare Sports Club, the province will take some comfort in knowing their representative franchise is performing well.

Tenax promotion

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services side Tenax FC finally sealed promotion into the Castle Lager Premiership League after a decade of trying hard and failing mostly at the final hurdle.

It now remains to be seen whether Tenax FC will stand the heat in the more competitive Premier Soccer League.

More importantly, Tenax will be part of the historical first ever Manicaland Premiership derby that will also feature Manica Diamonds as their opponents.

MSC players in Sables squad

Three rugby boys from Manicaland were selected to be part of Sables side that won the Victoria Cup. The talented trio of Ngoni Chibuwe, Godwin Mangenje and Martin Mangongo evoked memories of yesteryear when the game in Manicaland was vibrant with outstanding players emerging from the province, year in year out.

Gem Boys in dream PSL season debut

Manica Diamonds, as the Gem Boys are affectionately known, ended their debut Castle Lager Premiership season in an impressive fifth place.

The club defied the odds to end the season in a respectable position on the table, ahead of traditional heavyeights Dynamos and Highlanders.

The impressive performance might convince the club executive to renew caretaker coach Johannes Nhumwa’s contract but it now remains to be seen whether Nhumwa’s achievements were not a flash in the pan.

Vumba Marathon lives up to billing

The exciting Vumba Half Marathon was held and lived up to expectations of attendees as well as athletes.

Elijah Mabhunu won the race in the men’s category after crossing the finishing line in 1:05:15 while Lionel Muchena weighed in on second position after completing the race in 1:06:38. Wirimai Zhuwao was third.

In the women’s race, Rutendo Nyahora maintained her dominance after finishing the race in 1:17:17, while Faith Nyasango came second, crossing the finishing line in 1:23:17.

Warriors Afcon debacle

The Zimbabwe senior men’s national team flattered to deceive when they did well to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations only to disappoint during the continental football showpiece.

After igniting so much hope in the qualifying campaign that earned them respect and admiration, the Warriors suddenly failed to give it their all, embarking on industrial action during the tournament, as they demanded their dues before fulfilling their group fixtures

The end result was a humiliating early exit for the Total Africa Cup of Nations competition.

Source: African News Agency