Augusto seeks fresh start

HARARE – “This is the best move for my career because this is the perfect chance for me to win a league title,” Clive Augusto tells the Daily News on Sunday on his recent move to Bulawayo side Chicken Inn.

Ever since he burst onto the scene with Ngezi Platinum Stars in the 2017 Caste Lager Premiership season, Augusto has been one of the highly-rated strikers in the local game.

Augusto was the tip of the Madamburo warhead as the club launched a serious assault on the title that year.

While the likes of Terrence Dzvukamanja, James Nguluve and Donald Teguru enjoyed the limelight, Augusto quietly went about his business in a selfless manner for the team’s cause.

The 24-year-old played the role of a target man; he created space for the other attackers to flourish while taking on all the burden of fending off defenders on his shoulders.

Augusto is one of those strikers that is greatly undervalued because he does not get loads of goals but when he is not there, that’s when you realise his importance for the team.

Playing with his back to goal, he can hold up the ball for his teammates to get involved in the game.

That season, Ngezi looked like they were going to land the title as they went into Week 33 in first place leading the log with a single point.

However, they lost that penultimate match 2-1 to FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium which effectively sunk their title hopes.

In the final match of the season, Madamburo could only afford a goalless draw with Triangle United at Baobab Stadium to eventually finish in third place behind champions FC Platinum and runners-up Dynamos.

It was a traumatic experience for Augusto and his teammates as they were just 180 minutes away from winning the championship.

But professional sports can be a ruthless business and the smallest of margins make a big difference.

When the 2018 season started, it looked like Ngezi Platinum had learnt their lessons as they commenced with a blistering run of 14 matches without defeat.

However, that bubble finally burst in spectacular fashion when Madamburo lost 1-0 away to newly-promoted side Bulawayo Chiefs.

The Mhondoro-Ngezi-based side would go on to lose their next three matches and their aura of invincibility was gone.

Coach Tonderai Ndiraya was sacked with five games to go as they trailed FC Platinum by five points and the league title far away from their grasp.

Just like 2017, last season was another draining experience for Ngezi Platinum and Augusto could not handle the disappointment any longer.

In December, he decided against renewing his contract with Ngezi and chose to start afresh at 2015 champions Chicken Inn.

“Everyone can see that Chicken Inn are a serious club just by the quality players they are going for in the transfer window,” Augusto says.

“They have made a number of good signings and our target is to go for the championship this season. Everyone involved with this club is aware of this.”

Besides Augusto, Joey Antipas has also snapped up Ngezi Platinum duo of midfielder Tichaona Chipunza and goalkeeper Donovan Bernard.

The Gamecocks have also added the DeMbare duo of winger Panashe Mutasa and midfielder Bret Amidu.

Dynamos’ breakout start from a largely disappointing 2018 season, Valentine Kadonzvo also made a surprising move to the Bulawayo-based side where he is joined by defender Phakhamani Dube.

Former Harare City midfielder Malvin Gaki together with Bulawayo City’s Sipho Ndlovu have also joined the Gamecocks.

The club also recalled highly-rated midfielder Michael Bhebhe from a loan spell with second tier club Tsholotsho.  

“With everything that is in place here, we are going to compete for all the trophies that are up for grabs this season,” Augusto says.   

Last season, the striker’s campaign was hampered by injuries which saw him miss a number of games.

“Last season was not one of my best as I only scored three goals and managed two assists,” he says.

“I started the year well but I was injured which kept me out for a long time. When I recovered, getting game time proved difficult and that’s when the team was struggling a bit.

“Despite all this, Chicken Inn believed in me and I did not hesitate to sign when they approached me to join them.”

At a new club and in a new city, Augusto is hopeful that when the 2019 season commences on March 30, it will bring better fortunes on a personal level.

“Like I have said, 2018 was not a good year for me but this time around, I’m at a team where I think we will do big things,” he said.

“I hope to score 10 goals and above because physically, I have recovered and feel confident with my game.”

Another target Augusto has in his sights is returning to the Warriors fold.

The striker only has one cap under his belt when he was called up for a friendly international against Botswana last April which was staged as part of Zimbabwe’s Independence Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium.

“It was a great feeling playing for the national team and it was a proud moment for me to wear that jersey,” he says.

“I did not have a great game but it was not bad either, I feel If I get back to my best, I have a lot to offer for the Warriors.

“This is my target now, I just want to play well for Chicken Inn this season and once I can do that, I’m sure the Warriors coaches will give me another chance to prove myself with the national team.”

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