Big year for giants . . . DeMbare, CAPS Utd plunge into battles
Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
The 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season, which kicks off today as Dynamos clash with Hwange at Barbourfields, is not just an ordinary season for the country’s traditional football giants.
It is also not going to be business as usual for crosstown rivals CAPS United, who face Manica Diamonds at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
Highlanders, who also open their campaign at home to ZPC Kariba tomorrow, also have a big season to look forward to.
The trio are united in one thing – to challenge FC Platinum’s stranglehold on the domestic Premiership
The platinum miners have won the last four campaigns and they begin the defence away to newboys Simba Bhora at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
But for Dynamos, the 2023 season comes when they have big plans to commemorate their 60th anniversary as well as put an end to a prolonged title drought that has stretched almost nine years.
This is the third longest spell for the Harare giants without placing their hands on the coveted silverware. But the Harare giants have revealed big plans and have gone to the extent of reshuffling their personnel at all levels from the playing team, to the technical bench and the administration.
Dynamos finished third last season and the performance was deemed not good enough, as they continued to play in the shadows of FC Platinum and Chicken Inn.
New coach Herbert Maruwa, who replaced Tonderai Ndiraya understands the assignment well and has been working around the clock to make sure the Glamour Boys return to the top.
“It promises to be a very competitive season,” he told The Herald yesterday.
“But the main aim for us is to perform well this year and try and reduce the gap that has developed between us and teams like FC Platinum over the last few years.”
Dynamos have made a huge transformation this season after releasing over a dozen players and bringing on board another dozen.
They are set to field a new look team this afternoon with twins Kelvin and Elvis Moyo back in their hometown for the first game of the season, just two months after crossing the floor from Bulawayo Chiefs.
The Bulawayo chapter of the DeMbare supporters are also privileged to get the opportunity with exciting new signings such as Donald Dzvinyai, Wilmore Chimbetu, Donald Mudadi, Tanaka Shandirwa, Arthur Musiyiwa, Emmanuel Ziocha, Nyasha Chintuli, Tendai Matindife, Eli Ilunga, Jayden Bakari, and Keith Madera all available for selection. Fan-favourite Denver Mukamba has also travelled with the team.
“Generally, I think we have a very good team which we think can compete.
“Of course we have so many new faces but we have had a good pre-season. The challenge that we have been working on was on ensuring the combinations click and the team itself gels.
“We are hoping for a good start and maybe after five or so games that’s when we will be able to see the direction the team is taking.
“This is the first game of the season and obviously we look forward with confidence. But then our opponents have been out of the league for a few years and you wouldn’t know what to expect when coming head to head against such opponents,” said Maruwa.
Hwange have been forced to play their home game in Bulawayo as their Colliery Stadium failed to meet the minimum standards to host topflight football matches.
They were also forced to rope in former player and head coach Nation Dube because initial head coach Bongani Mafu doesn’t have the pre-requisite CAF A licence required for one to be in charge of a team in the Premier Soccer League. Mafu has a UEFA B licence.
Chipangano were expected in Bulawayo on match day, which would mean that Dynamos, who travelled yesterday, will arrive in the city before their hosts.
“We are happy to be playing Hwange at Barbourfields because it feels like a neutral venue for us, or our second home if you like.
“It’s unlike playing them at the Colliery. The travelling distance has been shortened and we will definitely have more time to recover for our next game,” said Maruwa.
Hwange have an exciting squad which blends youth and experience.
The experienced midfield duo of midfielder Thabani Goredema and Cannan Nkomo and striker Ernest Gwitima have been retained by the club.
They added Copa Coca-Cola product Tendai “Shumba” Muvuti, a 19-year-old former Mpopoma High School pupil who shone at the schools’ football competition in 2019.
The young attacking midfielder joined Chipangano as one of the junior players together with the club’s junior team graduates Attitude Munsaka, Quinton Longwei and Proud Anesu Richard. The club also roped in Claivert Tshuma who previously turned out for Dynamos.
DeMbare’s crosstown rivals CAPS United are also anxious to get the ball running in their Golden Jubilee Year. Makepekepe, who last won the title in 2016, would be happy to add icing on the cake of their Golden Jubilee with silverware.
The Green Machine have added on their books high profile midfielders King Nadolo, Kelvin Madzongwe and Adrian Silla. They have roped in former DeMbare defender Godknows Murwira, ex-Harare City Innocent Zambezi and Whawha Admiral Matope.
They have also bolstered the goalkeeping department by signing former Jomo Cosmos goalie Bhekimpilo Ncube and Ashley Reyners from Manica Diamonds.
The Green Machine family will be interested to see how their side fare on the opening day, at home, after an intense pre-season that was more tranquil as compared to the previous year in which they survived relegation amid endless turmoil.
Today: Simba Bhora v FC Platinum (NSS), Sheasham v Chicken Inn (Mandava), Bulawayo Chiefs v Ngezi Platinum (Luveve), Hwange v Dynamos (Barbourfields)
Tomorrow: CAPS United v Manica Diamonds (NSS), Triangle v Herentals (Gibbo), Highlanders v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields)
Monday: Yadah v Green Fuel (NSS 12pm), Cranborne Bullets v Black Rhinos (NSS 3pm)