The Sunday Mail
IT’S hard not to think of Hardlife Zvirekwi, the reigning Soccer Star of the Year, at a time like this.
The ritual of selecting a new king is nigh and yet the Caps United skipper’s name is not featuring in the pre-indaba foreplay.
This term, Zvirekwi is nowhere near half the player he can be. And he knows it.
“During the course of this season I reached a stage whereby the mind was willing but the body was unable. Getting through games was getting tougher and tougher,” conceded the Caps United skipper.
Zvirekwi was an overwhelming choice last term, a king who even had the Dynamos supporters acknowledging that he deserved the crown.
And he is a good guy too, a cultured man who is all about football, the kind of guy for whom you only wish good things.
When he was crowned 2016 Soccer Star of the Year, the expectation was that he would finally be moving abroad after once again proving his worth on the local scene.
After all, Danny Phiri had done it the year before.
The move didn’t happen and Zvirekwi, who featured for the Warriors at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, remained at Makepekepe where a horrible first half of the season awaited.
The Caf Champions League campaign was a platform the 30-year-old full-back could have used to wave the come-and-get-me sign to foreign clubs. Instead, he made scouts think twice about investing in him.
Caps coach Lloyd Chitembwe feared that his skipper was burning out after playing for both club and country for four years without a decent break.
Chitembwe’s fears where confirmed when sports medicine expert Dr Nick Munyonga joined the reigning Castle Lager Premier Soccer Leagye champions in June.
“When I got to Caps United there were obvious signs of tiredness arising from too many games without adequate rest and apparently coach Lodza had picked it up and was implementing some interventions so it was easy to build on that,” recalled Munyonga.
“He needed rest, good nutrition and a lot of ice baths. We drafted a programme and followed it up religiously. At the moment I can safely report that the player has shown signs of recovery and the way he has been playing during the second half of the season is massive evidence of that.”
Zvirekwi said he only began to feel like his old, battling self towards the end of August.
“As a player you know you are burnt out when you struggle with the things you used to do with one eye closed. The sprints, the crosses and long range all shooting — you will be a second too slow in everything.
“Thankfully the coaches noticed and I got a different training regime. The work load was reduced and slowly I began getting my groove back and am feeling at my best right now,” he said.