Dynamos' honeymoon over

HARARE - Champions Dynamos begin their preparations for the 2013 season when they hold their first training session of the year at their Raylton Sports Club base today.

The Harare giants will be fighting on two fronts this year as they seek to defend their league and cup double while also making meaningful progress in the African Champions League.

On the domestic front, DeMbare has been dominant in the last two seasons, winning back-to-back doubles under coach Callisto Pasuwa.

It is in the African safari that the record 19-time Zimbabwe champions have struggled to make an impact in the last two years.

DeMbare have been knocked out twice in the last qualifying round before the lucrative mini-league stage of Africa’s premier inter-club competition.  

In 2011, DeMbare were agonisingly knocked out of the competition by Algerian side MC Algiers on away goals rule.

After having won the first leg 4-1 at Rufaro Stadium, the Glamour Boys carried a healthy lead back to Algiers.

The Zimbabwean side however crumbled in the second leg, allowing MC Algiers to score three goals to qualify for the group stages.

Last year it was a different story though as Dynamos crossed paths with the then reigning Africans champions Esperance of Tunisia in the last qualifying round.

DeMbare were thoroughly beaten 6-0 in the first leg in Tunisia to effectively end their dream of reaching the last eight.

To their credit, the Zimbabwean side went toe-to-toe with the Blood and Gold in the second leg in Harare, which ended 1-1.

The damage was already done in the first leg and Dynamos bowed out of the competition after losing 7-1 on aggregate.

This season, Pasuwa and his men find themselves in a similar position as they face a tough road of reaching the Champions League group stages.

In the preliminary round set for February, the Glamour Boys face Lesotho Correctional Services, who are novices when it comes to African football and Dynamos will be favourites to progress.

It is in the first round that the going gets tough as Dynamos could set up a possible date with Libyan champions Al Ittihad or Tunisian CA Bizertin.

If Dynamos progress to the final qualifying round they are likely to face reigning African champions Al Ahly of Egypt.

Although the Egyptian domestic league has been inactive since February last year, the record seven-time African champions possess great threat.

On the domestic front, Dynamos like always, will be the usual suspects to challenge for silverware and will face a stern challenge from reawakened Bulawayo giants Highlanders.

A host of the club’s new signings are expected to be present this morning as they take part in their first training session with the rest of their teammates.

Dynamos have already concluded a deal to bring goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi from Monomotapa to give competition to first choice George Chigova.

Midfielder Russell Madamombe also arrived from Monomotapa and looks like he will be the direct replacement for wizard Denver Mukamba, who is on the verge of signing for South African side BidVest Wits.

The club has also earmarked the Hwange pair of forward Francisco Zekumbawire and centre half Aaron Katebe.

DeMbare are also looking to bring in holding midfielder Sydney Linyama from Bulawayo side Chicken Inn.

During the course of the week, Dynamos will only be training once a day before they increase the tempo in the following weeks as the coaches hope to get the players into top shape before taking on Lesotho Correctional Services.

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