Civo United was the centre of admiration when, 12 months ago, it won the Standard Bank Cup after defeating Be Forward Wanderers 1-0 in the finals. On the way to the final, the Civil Servants defeated another Goliath in Nyasa Big Bullets.
In a season where Civo finished in unfamiliar 10th league position, six places off the previous year, the cup—many soccer pundits believed—would trigger an instant turnaround in the club’s fortunes to the good old days.
But today, the government-sponsored side is broken, hopeless, defeated and extremely sinking into a violent ocean of despair. Out of the Fisd Cup, missed out on Carlsberg and Presidential trophies and the worst this season could yet happen—relegation.
There are more stories that haunt than inspire this team. Occupying a relegation spot and going eight second round matches without a win are both new patterns in the club’s fabric.
“Civo is supposed to be among the top four clubs, others being Be Forward Wanderers, Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers, but what is happening there now is really shocking,” former player and the Standard Bank Cup winning coach Oscar Kaunda says.
Records show that in 2010, 2011and 2012 Civo consistently tried to match Kaunda’s and most football pundits’ expectations having finished fourth twice and a respectable sixth, respectively.
But in 2013 it hit its lowest ebb after finishing 10th. An improvement followed the following year when it finished fourth, but dropped to 10th again in 2015.
The inconsistent results have, in just one year, led into Civo changing coaches thrice; Kaunda was booted out before the current season started, his predecessor Millias Pofera-Jegwe met his fate during mid-season break. He was replaced by Charles Manda.
Another former Civo and Silver midfielder Peter Mgangira feels that the frequent coaching panel changes have had a major bearing on the club’s poor showing.
“There are several elements that result in poor results. For example, does Civo provide the coaches with the players that can suit their system? Again, are coaches given enough time to impose their style? You would find out that the answer to all these questions is a big no,” he explains.
Current coach Manda blames a blunt striking force as the key cause of their inconsistent season.
“We are creating chances, but the team has not been converting the simplest of chances. This is not something you can fault the coach because he can’t go onto the pitch and start scoring,” he says.
The coach is wearing a brave face though; that he can steer the team out of relegation.
“I do believe that we will survive the drop,” he says with hesitation plastered all over his face.
Time is running out for Manda though. With six matches to go, starting with a tough task against title contenders Blue Eagles tomorrow, the picture does not look rosy.
Put aside the striking woes which have seen the Civil Servants score 17 goals, probably their worst in recent times, the defence has shockingly been pathetic.
Civo has conceded an unprecedented 30 goals and still counting, to record a terrible minus 13-goal difference. The last time Civo sunk into almost similar low, though not this worse, was in 2015 when it recorded a minus 4-goal difference.
The porous defence is undoubtedly a result of the loss of their formidable central defensive pairing of John Langesi and Emmanuel Zoya, to Nyasa Big Bullets.
Despite Civo raking in around K5 million in transfer fees from the pair, the club did not enforce the defence with equally good defenders and resultantly a hefty price is being paid.
Civo general secretary Thomas Makiwa sums up their season as shocking and adds that the club will institute a deep post-mortem into this disappointing year.
A season that promised much after the club roped in former Dedza Young Soccer Saints charismatic coach Pofera-Jegwe, a season that came on the back of Standard Bank victory, all the club has yielded is the wind.