Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
HARARE City got their pre-season preparations off the ground when they roped in fitness expert Gerald Maguranyanga to engage the players on the first day of training ahead of their maiden participation in this year’s CAF Confederation Cup.
The Sunshine Boys returned from the festive break yesterday with almost all the players present apart from the six who are in the Warriors squad currently preparing for the African Nations Championships.
The quartet of newboys Raphael Manuvire, Blessing Moyo, Ronald Chitiyo and Farai Madhananga are in the national team together with strikers Francesco Zekumbawira and William Manondo.
The only setback was on Takudzwa Chimwemwe, who sat out the first day of training because of illness while Benson Maglasi and Kuda Kumwala were not able to attend because of illness and other personal reasons.
But the bulk of the squad including interim skipper Themba Ndlovu, Martin Vengesai, Tendai Samanja, James Jam, Arnold Chivheya, Tafadzwa Dube, Maxwell Nyamupangedengu, Arnold Chivheya, Crispen Dickson and newboy Jimmy Tigere went through their paces under the professional guidance of former Warriors fitness trainer Maguranyanga.
Harare City coach Taurai Mangwiro, who started the day with a meeting where he clearly spelt out what he expects from his players this year, followed proceedings from the sidelines and will only take over the training duties today.
Mangwiro, who reminded his charges that they disappointed last year when they finished seventh in the championship race, made it clear that they are aiming for good fortunes both on the domestic and the continental stage.
The Sunshine Boys are looking forward to a gruelling season competing on two fronts and they have made fitness their priority so that they withstand the fixtures pressure.
“Right now we are having a fitness test and we will make a follow-up to it during the fifth week. We hope to have a similar test where we are trying to find out the condition of the players. It helps up going into the season,” said Mangwiro.
“We started the day with a meeting where we were spelling out what we would expect from the players and what we want to achieve as a team. Our emphasis was improving on last year’s performances and also making an impact in Africa.
“This is our first time in the Confed Cup and we have said we don’t want to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure but at the same time we would want to make an impact in that competition.
“We are not there just to make up the numbers. If we can go far the better for us, but no specific targets.”
Harare City will open their account in Africa on February 13 against AS Adema of Madagascar.
They have six weeks to prepare for the match and Mangwiro revealed yesterday that he has a detailed programme with which he would want his team to play at least two competitive friendly matches before they begin their campaign.
However, since most of the local teams will still be consolidating their pre-season by that time, Mangwiro said they are looking to engage Chicken Inn who will be representing Zimbabwe in the Champions League.
City have roped in five new players to strengthen their squad. However, it might be tricky to work on combinations as six of their players could be with the Warriors probably until the final week.
Harare City made the biggest scoop when they landed the signatures of two of some the country’s best offensive midfield players -Chitiyo and Manuvire – to boost their attack.
“Of course, we would want them to blend with the others but, inasfar as what they are capable of doing, we already know. Some of the players I have worked with them before and I don’t think it will be difficult for them to fit into the system. The good thing is they will be active (with the Warriors).
“In fact, their level of fitness will be even ahead of the guys we are working with here. So I don’t think it will be much of a handicap. Of course, you may need everyone with you but serving the nation, we prioritise that, and we take pride in our players representing the nation,” said Mangwiro.