The Asiagate ghost came back to haunt Zimbabwean football once again.
Army side Black Rhinos have fired team manager Gift “Guava” Kamuriwo for an alleged match-fixing scandal involving Herentals Football Club, “The Students”, 263Chat has learnt.
By Munashe Chokodza/ Brain Nkiwane
Herentals have been playing in the topflight league for two seasons now having finished sixth last.
In botched match-fixing deal to try and save their sinking ship involving Herentals and army side Black Rhinos, It is now evident that money exchanged hands leading to former Black Rhinos and Warriors fringe player Kamuriwo losing his job. Kamuriwo has been Black Rhinos team manager.
Circumstances surrounding the deal that went wrong are that on October 19, Herentals, who are deep in relegation zone played Black Rhinos in the capital.
The army side conceded three goals in less than 10 minutes with Blessing Majarira scoring a memorable hat trick in the 31st, 37 and 39 minute, raising suspicion on the part of the technical team as well as the army side leadership. The match ended 3-0.
Following the loss, Black Rhinos technical team summoned all the players for an emergency meeting at the clubs headquarters for interrogations.
At the meeting, certain pointers leading to possible match-fixing emerged.
An insider, who spoke to 263Chat chronicled how the match-fixing deal was orchestrated until such a time that it derailed.
“On 15 October ahead of our match against Herentals, Oliver Chirega Herentals team manager visited one of our players (Name supplied), who formerly played for them and assigned him to scout for five possible players who were to be given US$150 to help them win their game against us.
“Soon after the meeting, the player came and reported the match-fixing plot Black Rhinos coach, Hebert Marowa, who then ordered the player to call him as soon as Chirega visited his place,” the source said.
It is understood that Chirega visited the player the following day, but the player refused to partake in the deal.
Upon realizing the possibility of other players being compromised, ahead of the match, Marowa spent the entire week communicating with players and the entire technical team as well as the executive on the alleged match-fixing issue.
“When we then played Herentals, the manner in which we conceded three goals in less than 10 minutes was evidence enough that something was amiss,” said the source.
After the match, it is believed that the leadership at Rhinos called for a probe on the loss. On October 22, all the team players and staff members reported for the meeting.
According to the sources, the following weekend, Black Rhinos travelled to Ngezi to play Ngezi Platinum FC in the Chibuku Super Cup quarter final in which they lost via a penalty lottery.
“It is at this match that facts of the match-fixing scandal started unravelling. Maybe it was due to guilty conscience that kept on eating Kamuriwo to the extent that he approached Marowa privately and confessed that he was given money by Herentals manager Oliver Chirega to facilitate a win for them so that they survive relegation.”
However, Kamuriwo is believed to have swallowed the bullet on behalf for other players who were also bribed in the deal after realizing the magnitude of the matter.
He is said to have shielded other players by claiming that he was the only person bribed and did not share the spoils but kept all for himself.
“He confessed having received a bribe after realizing that innocent players were being victimized,” added the source.
He added, “Kamuriwo was given a sum of US$600 and by the time the matter came out, only US$300 was left which he then handed to Marowa, who in turn took it to the executive.”
Contacted for comment, Black Rhinos Secretary General Wellington Mabhiginye confirmed the incident before adding that as a club, they had since instigated internal investigations and reported the case to the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
“Yes I can confirm that this incident happened. As a club we did our own investigations which led to our team manager Kamuriwo being relived off his duties and internal action was taken against Kamuriwo and a report was made to PSL,” said Mabhiginye.
Marowa also confirmed the incident but however, refused to comment on the issue.
Contacted for comment, Herentals team manager Chirega laughed off the allegations before adding that their “tiff” with Black Rhinos dates back from their time in the unfashionable world of Northern region Division One.
“It’s unfortunate that it will not be easy to prove ourselves that we do not have a hand in this. Looking at our record against the army side, one would tell that its always do or die when we meet. We are in the relegation zone, yes, but we can’t be seen to be bribing match officials, players and technical team personnel,” said Chirega.
He added that most football followers sill believe that football teams have to bribe their way our of relegation each time they are in danger.
“Actually, ahead of our encounter against Caps United, we had started getting calls from people saying we hear you guys have paid Caps United players for you to win the match 3-0. As a club, we don’t even know where this is coming from. If one look at our record its not all that bad even though we are in the relegation zone. Thanks to Rhinos for instigating such an important inquiry, it brings transparency to football,” said Chirega.
Herentals sitting 15th on the log table, have played 29 games this season, won five, drew 16 and lost eight. They have amassed a total of 31 points, the same as Hwange who are 16. On 17th position is Mushowani Star at 30 pints while Yadah anchor at the bottom of the table at 28 points.