The Sunday Mail
Caps United coach Darlington Dodo will not forget the year 2019 anytime soon.
The past 12 months were unbearable for the 49-year-old.
After losing his son (Don) in October due to a fatal road accident along Seke Road, Dodo lost all hope of winning his first league championship with Caps United. But for a couple of weeks, everything pointed to that all-important mercy title win.
And then on the final day of the season, Caps United lost it all.
In a winner-takes-all clash at the National Sports Stadium, FC Platinum’s 1-0 victory crushed the green half of the capital and gifted the Zvishavane-based outfit their third title on the trot. No one felt the brunt of that loss more than Dodo.
He has since described the entire year as the worst period of his 49 years of existence.
“Losing my son in such a painful way at such a critical crucial time of the season was really tough for me and the entire family,” said Dodo.
“Losing the championship was the final straw in a year that had looked so promising. It ended up being a nightmare. Losing the championship on the last day was very unfortunate and devastating. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. However, such is life. God has a reason for everything that happens in our lives,” he said.
A few days after burying his son, Dodo cut his compassionate leave short and took charge of Caps United as they went into a crucial match against Chicken Inn.
lndeed, as Billy Shank put it, “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”
Said Dodo: “Football is my life and my decision to go to Bulawayo for the Chicken Inn game, a few days after my son’s burial, was due to the Caps United family’s support.
“That support drove me into wanting to give them something. l was still grieving, but l had to be part of that crucial match. The team really wanted to win the league title. As such, that decision came from my heart,” said the Caps United gaffer.
Former Caps United striker Stewart Murisa, a member of the Harare Giants technical team, revealed that they were all surprised when Dodo cut his compassionate leave short.
“It’s never easy to lose a loved one, more so a child, and it was a huge blow for him and his family. We were all devastated but Dodo has a very strong character,” said Murisa.
“We were surprised when he joined us for the Chicken Inn trip. The guy is a prayer warrior, I think that helped him pull through. We mourn in different ways,” he said.
What might come as little consolation is the fact that the Caps United presidium has shown faith in Dodo. They have already offered the former Manzini Swaziland coach an extension on his contract.
“The new season comes with a lot of new challenges, excitement and expectations. In terms of the institution’s demands, l have leant a lot.
“I’m assembling a team that has to match or exceed expectations,” said Dodo.
Twelve years after parting ways with Caps United as assistant coach, Dodo returned to Caps United early last year in the same capacity.
The need to be closer to home drove him to leave a head-coaching role at Eswatini Premiership side, Manzini Swaziland.
“I received a phone call from Lloyd (Chitembwe), asking me to come and be part of his technical team,” said the 49-year-old.
“Although l was leading a big team in Swaziland (now Eswatini), I could not resist the temptation of coming back home,” said Dodo.
He describes his return to the Green Machine as a fairy-tale story.
Dodo never imagined leading Caps United so early in his career.
“My stay at Caps United has been a story of two different halves.
“I was always a loyal servant to the coach, working hard as an assistant and doing my duties as prescribed. Little did l know that it would not take long for me to take over.
“When Chitembwe left in August, the script changed all of a sudden. l was asked to take over and lead the team.
“While it’s been exciting being assistant coach, the pressure levels suddenly changed when I took over,” he said.
The 49-year-old paid tribute to the Caps United family for accepting him.
“I was so humbled and charmed by the support l got from the players.”
“As for the 12th man – who are the Green Machine’s passionate supporters – the journey has had its ups and downs. However, by the grace of God, things went on marginally well until the last games,” said Dodo.
Now, Dodo is dreaming of brighter days as the Caps United family is looking forward to the 2020 season.