Monoz's Zuze upbeat

HARARE - Despite losing several influential players during the off-season break, Monomotapa coach Biggie Zuze is convinced his club will take big strides forward when the 2013 Castle Premiership season gets underway this week.

Monomotapa had a brilliant season last year which saw them finishing fourth on the final league standings while losing 2-0 to Dynamos in the final of the Mbada Diamonds Cup.

Monoz even earned a slot to play in the African Confederation Cup by virtue of being Mbada Diamonds Cup runners-up, but their dream of a return to the continental football turned into a nightmare after failing to secure funds for taking part in the tournament.

And since then a lot has happened to the modest Premiership side. Twelve players that formed the core of their 2012 team have since left forcing them to embark on a re-building exercise.

The 2008 Zimbabwe champions lost goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi and exciting midfielder Russel Madamombe, who crossed the floor to join Harare giants Dynamos.

Veteran forward Tawanda Nyamandwe and hardworking skilful midfielder Joseph Mutambiranwa joined CAPS United while midfielder Tendai Ngulube and goal-poacher Osborne Mukuradare joined Bigboy Mawiwi’s Harare City.

Talented and experienced but yet underrated midfielder Brian Mapfumo joined Botswana champions Mochudi Centre Chiefs with defender Fidelis Mangezi joining newly promoted Triangle.

Zuze who was rewarded by being appointed as the team’s substantive coach for the upcoming season expressed satisfaction with his new team’s level of confidence and has spoken well of the effort they are putting into training in order to produce consistent results this season.

"As a coach there is every reason to be confident. I believe we have assembled strong team capable of competing at the highest level," Zuze told the Daily News yesterday.

"We have lost quite a number of seasoned players from last season but I believe we have complimented them with some real quality recruitments. Most of the players we have recruited are youngsters and we hope they will be able to sustain the challenge from the top-flight.

“We have built quite a good side but the only challenge they will face is to emulate our last season’s performance.  It is very important to have a squad that has strength in depth and I have been impressed by way we have played in training and in our friendly games.”

The Castle Lager Premiership season kicks –off during the Easter holiday with Monomotapa coming face-to-face with the returning Black Rhinos and Zuze reckons the importance of a positive start.

"We have been working very hard to ensure we start very well, just like we did last season. Our pre-season has gone well and we want to avoid losing focus when the season gets underway,” he said.

“The first five games will give us a clear indication of to expect this season. We still have some experienced players though in the form of Talent Munetsi, Ishmael Lawe and Clive Boroma.

“We also managed to return other important players like Jonathan Zvaita, Morgan Mungombe, Jimmy Tigere, Obey Mwerahari, Nelson Melson, Ronald Chitiyo, Kuda Musharu and Carlos Messi.

Monomotapa have promoted most of their developmental players to the senior side while signing other promising stars.

The most prominent recruit is the 18-year-old starlet Nicholas Guyo, whose potential was abundantly evident in his Warriors debut against Botswana in a friendly match earlier this year.

The Manhingi FC product, who became one of a handful of players in history to win a Zimbabwe national team cap without top-flight league experience, leads a cast of new players expected to feel the void created by a mass exodus of players from Monoz during the off-season. - Godknows Matarutse

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