Ricky Zililo in Bulawayo and Eddie Chikamhi in Harare
WARRIORS defender Teenage Hadebe and veteran striker Obidiah Tarumbwa will be playing Champions League football next year after the pair completed their moves from Highlanders to Zimbabwe soccer kings Chicken Inn yesterday.
The pair was included in the Gamecocks 28-man squad that was submitted to the Confederation of African Football yesterday.
Hadebe and Tarumbwa are part of four new signings confirmed by the ambitious Bulawayo side in their bid to make a mark on the African safari and also retain the league championship.
Chicken Inn also signed unheralded strikers Pyswell Madhazi and Moses Demera from relegated sides Dongo Sawmill and Flame Lily respectively.
However, it is the capture of seasoned striker Tarumbwa and national team defender Hadebe that is likely to infuriate Highlanders’ fans, who had been hoping that Bosso would retain the two players, who had been on loan at the Bulawayo giants from Southern Region Division One League outfit Bantu Rovers.
Highlanders’ snail pace in dealing with Bantu Rovers regarding the services of Tarumbwa, Hadebe and FC Platinum bound Nqobizitha Masuku could prove costly when the new season starts. Bantu Rovers had given Bosso first preference to re-engage the players and wrote to the Bulawayo giants at the beginning of December inquiring whether they were interested in retaining the trio.
It has emerged that Highlanders only responded to the Bantu Rovers’ letter on December 30 after reading in the press that Chicken Inn had approached the Division One outfit for the services of Tarumbwa and Hadebe.
Highlanders’ secretary-general Emmett Ndlovu and committee member Wisdom Mabhena hand delivered the Bosso response at the Bantu Rovers offices on Wednesday, but it was rather late as Tarumbwa and Hadebe had been given the green light to sign for Chicken Inn.
Highlanders will now have to hunt for new strikers after Tarumbwa’s confirmed departure as they are also set to lose hitman Knox Mutizwa, who is on the verge of signing for South African Premier Soccer League side Bidvest Wits.
Bosso’s quest to lure top notch players might also prove difficult following reports that the club is planning to cut players’ wages for the 2016 season.
Apart from the new four signings the Gamecocks have maintained their 2015 squad and they should not have problems trying to gel for their potentially explosive Champions League preliminary round clash against South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns in Bulawayo.
Despite missing out on some of his targets Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas expressed satisfaction with the squad he has registered so far.
Antipas had also wanted Raphael Manuvire but were beaten to his signature by Harare City while former Triangle winger Hillary Bakacheza joined FC Platinum.
“I think this is a well-balanced, good mixture of youth and experience. As we had said before, we were not really going out for a big number. We didn’t want to sign players for the sake of signing.
“We only targeted those players we felt would bring value to our team. Our hope is that we will retain the bulk of our players from last season. These guys did very well. I was impressed and we would want to have continuity. So, to me this squad is not too bad,” said Antipas.
Dynamos vice-captain Ocean Mushure had also been linked with a move to the Gamecocks but there was nothing concrete by late yesterday.
Antipas would not commit himself to talk about Mushure who still has a year on his contract at DeMbare.
“I don’t have anything to say on that but it will be great to have a player like Ocean in our squad,” said Antipas.
The first leg of the preliminary round is on the weekend of February 12-14 with the return leg set for the weekend of February 26-28
Antipas has put together a squad of players who have some experience of the rigours of the continental game.
Some of the players who will be key in the Gamecocks’ African safari include skipper Danny “Deco” Phiri, who is also a vital member of the Warriiors, ageless midfielder Clemence Matawu, who had a stint in Poland, and Tarumbwa, who also had stints in Belgium, Cyprus and South Africa.
Goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze, defender Lawrence Mhlanga, midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu, who is on loan from Bantu Rovers, striker Edmore Chirambadare, Demera and Hadebe are all part of the locally-based Warriors’ squad preparing for CHAN tournament.
Chicken Inn administrator Tapiwa Marime said players would soon be advised on the start date of their pre-season preparations.
“It will be soon, but the players will be notified before the end of the weekend. There are no major additions to the squad and we hope the four that have been brought in to the Chicken Inn family will have a good stay. We’ve also registered one junior player for the CAF Champions League, Nicholas Muchadei, who is a right-link,” said Marime.
Chicken Inn were beaten to the signatures of Raphael Manuvire and Hillary Bakacheza by Harare City and FC Platinum.
Chicken Inn Champions League squad:
Goalkeeper: Elvis Chipezeze, Pride Zireni, Wandile Ndlovu
Defenders: Passmore Bernard, Devine Lunga, Brian Mbiriri, Lawrence Mhlanga, Moses Jackson, Guide Goddard, Teenage Hadebe, Ben Nyahunzvi
Midfielders: Dannny Phiri, Brian Juru, Thabani Goredema, Clemence Matawu, Raphael Kutinyu, Toto Banda, Canaan Nkomo, George Majika, Bhekimpilo Ncube, Nicholas Muchadei
Strikers: Edmore Chirambadare, Obidiah Tarumbwa, Moses Demera, Pyswell Demera, David Temwanjira, Ishmael Lawe, Mitchell Katsvairo