PSL preview no13: Rhinos bank on Rimuka

HARARE - Black Rhinos endured a torrid time upon their return to the Castle Premiership last season as they had to survive relegation on the last day.

For a side that once pride itself in having the services of great players like Stanford "Stix" Mtizwa and the late Stanley "Sinyo" Ndunduma, their exploits last season were far from inspiring.

With eight games into the season, Black Rhinos were on the foot of the table, having managed only one win, three draws and four defeats which led to the sacking of coach Nesbert Saruchera.

Saruchera was replaced by his assistants Arthur Tutani and Ndega Matsika, who were tasked to stir the army side back to safety.

It was a long and laboured fight as Rhinos had to wait until the last day of the season to confirm their status as a Premiership club for the 2014 season.

Going into the last game of the season, the army side were occupying the final relegation slot but they we able to steer away to safety after overcoming then already relegated Monomotapa.

The 2014 season saw Black Rhinos retaining most of their players from last year’s campaign while adding new acquisitions in the form of midfielder Charles Chiutsa (CAPS United), striker Beaven Chikaka (Highlanders) and goalkeeper Jonathan Zvaita from Monomotapa.

The club showed the exit door to old horses like Lazarus Muhoni, Britto Gwere and Brighton Chandisaita, who had played crucial roles in the team’s promotion from the lower division in 2012.

This season, Tutani starts at the helm of the army side and the pressure will be on him to bring back the glory days of yesteryear to the Rhinos family.

Chauya Chipembere boasts of the reigning finest goalkeeper in the land, Herbert Rusawo, who will be under spotlight this season and is expected to take his game a notch higher.

Last season, Rusawo was voted the Castle Lager Premiership Goalkeeper of the Year and this award based on his having conceded the least number of goals during the season.

Rusawo beat Warriors goalkeeper George Chigova and Munyaradzi Diya who had made it among the 11 finalists.

Many within the Rhinos family would want to see the days of Japhet Muparutsa, Simon ‘AK’ Mugabe, Maronga ‘The Bomber’ Nyangela, Jerry Chidawa, Gift Makoni and Fanuel Nyamukapa among others coming back.

And since shifting their base to Kadoma last season, Black Rhinos have enjoyed a relatively good following.

The team now plays before a bumper crowd at Rimuka Stadium and given their performance there against big teams last season it’s a testimony that Kadoma will have a big say on the destiny of the championship as traditional title favourites are not guaranteed maximum points there.

Their home form will be instrumental in their survival this season as they are generally poor travellers.

Backed by their new Kadoma following, Rhinos will be extremely difficult to beat at home for most teams.

It will all come down to whether Tutani will release his players from their shackles when they are away from Rimuka.  

The army side opened their 2014 campaign with an away 1-0 win against Bantu Rovers at Luveve Stadium over the weekend.

Rhinos could have won by a bigger margin but they were let down by their wasteful strike force.

It is difficult to judge their away for basing on their performance against a young Bantu side which had a number of their players making their Premiership debuts.

It will be interesting to see how they play against Shabanie Mine in their next away match in two weeks time.

Maglas Stadium can be a caldron and the asbestos miners have already shown that they can be ruthless after they dispatched Triangle 3-1 at the weekend.

Daily News predicated position: 11th

Last season’s position: 13th

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