Biggie's big challenge

HARARE - Monomotapa coach Biggie Zuze admits he faces a daunting task of assembling a competitive side after losing several key players to local rivals during the off-season.

Zuze, who took over as caretaker coach in August last year after the club parted ways with Taurai Mangwiro, guided the 2008 Zimbabwe champions to a respectable top four finish in the Castle Premiership.

Zuze was then rewarded with a substantive appointment, but his off-season preparations have been marred by the departure of several influential players.

The Mbada Diamonds Cup finalists started preparing for the forthcoming 2013 season last week with only nine players from last year’s squad in attendance.

Monomotapa have already lost goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi and midfielder Russel Madamombe to champions Dynamos while Osbourne Mukuradare has reportedly joined Harare City.

Players like Tawanda Nyamandwe and Tendai Ngulube are said to be on a club-hunting mission following the expiry of their contracts with the modest Harare side.

The club’s rising star, Ronald Chitiyo, is currently undergoing trials with South African champions Orlando Pirates while players like Knowledge Machona, Jorum Muchambo and Makai Kawashu have all asked to be released.

“We have a lot of work to do because we have lost a number of key players. Only nine players from our last season’s team turned up for training last week,” Zuze told Daily News yesterday.

“We started preparations for the 2013 season and we are still assessing some of the players who came for trials last year. We are left with about 35 players and we have given them another week for further assessment before we can select the ones we are interested in.

“We want to assemble a team that can compete in the league first. It’s a tough task given our situation but we will work hard to do our best. We can’t say we are targeting the championship, but we want to be competitive.

“We are looking at building our team around the experience of other guys like Obey Mwerahari, Hillary Mugoniwa, Kuda Musharu and Morgan Mangombe, who are still round.”

Monomotapa have also lured striker Ismael Lawe from relegated Gunners while influential skipper Musharu signed a new three-year deal. - Godknows Matarutse

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