Ndiraya aims high

HARARE - Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya is happy with his team’s progress as they stepped a gear up in preparing for the team’s participation in the African Confederation Cup tournament this year.

The platinum miners won the right to represent the country in Africa’s second tier inter-club competition after winning the Chibuku Super Cup in their first year in the Premiership last year.

Ngezi have been very active on the transfer market strengthening their squad in order to compete both on the domestic front and on the continent.

The Mhondoro-Ngezibased side bolstered their squad by acquiring the services of highly-rated former Shabanie Mine and Dynamos right back Godknows Murwira.

Murwira, who was voted among the best XI of last season, is a versatile player, who can also play in central midfield or on the wing which makes him a vital addition to Ndiraya’s squad.

Madamburo have also snapped up former CAPS United and Dynamos defensive midfielder Dominic Mukandi, who was out of contract at the Glamour Boys.

Mukandi also has versatility in his game as he can play at centre back or right back.

Maclive Phiri, who was Tsholotsho’s top goal scorer last season, together with Bulawayo City captain Xolisani Moyo and Edgar Mhungu are some of the new faces at Ngezi Platinum.

The Zimplats-owned side has also completed negotiating personal terms with Qadr Amini and are now only waiting for his clearance to come through from How Mine.

Ngezi had a week-long training camp in Harare last week focusing on the conditioning of the players at the Innovative High Performance Centre before rounding off with a friendly match against Division One side Herentals at the weekend.

Yesterday, the team was back in Ngezi intensifying their preparations with Ndiraya showing satisfaction with the progress they have made thus far.

“It’s been a good two weeks for us. For now we are not really looking at so many things but the fitness of the players,” Ndiraya told the Daily News.

“We did our fitness tests last week and we are happy with the signs. Everyone we wanted is here except for some few guys who are yet to get their paperwork like Amini but we hope they will join us soon.

“The club is engaged in talks with his former team How Mine to get the clearance. So far I can say in terms of fitness we are at 25 percent and we are progressing well.”

Ngezi were drawn to face Pamplemousses Sporting Club of Mauritius in the preliminary round and will be away for the first leg on the weekend of February 10-12 before returning for the home leg a week later.

In the event that the platinum miners negotiate their way past Pamplemousses SC, they will meet Angolan side CD Libolo in the first round.

If they get past Libolo, the Zimbabwean side will have to negotiate the final play-off round with teams dropping from the African Champions League qualifiers to progress to the group stages of the African Confederation Cup.

But it is the preliminary round that Ndiraya feels they should exhaust their energies at the moment.

Pamplemousses are not novices in African football and made their debut in the Champions League in 2007 which saw them getting knocked out in the preliminary stages after losing to the then Zimbabwean champions Highlanders.

The Indian Ocean islanders, who are based in Belle Vue Maurel, have also participated in the African Confederation Cup before but have failed to make it to the group stages.

Ndiraya said they are going in the competition to learn but will also be hoping to win matches.

“We are under no pressure at all we are actually in this competition to learn and enjoy ourselves but at the same time we also want to win games,” he said.

Ngezi will not be the only Zimbabwean side taking part in the African Safari this year.

Reigning Premiership title winners CAPS United will be taking part in the African Champions League where they were drawn to face Lesotho side FC Lioli in the preliminary round.

If Makepekepe get past Lioli, they will meet five-time African champions TP Mazembe in the final qualifying round before reaching the group stages.

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