PSL clubs up the ante

HARARE - With less than 27 days before the 2019 Castle Lager Premiership season commences, top flight teams have moved a gear up as they intensify their preparations. 

Most clubs have been very active on the transfer market as they seek to strengthen their squads ahead of the new campaign which is set to commence on March 30. Clubs have since submitted their provisional squads to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for the processing of players’ licences ahead of the transfer deadline on March 31.

Reigning champions FC Platinum are probably the best prepared team due to their participation in the African Champions League which made them to assemble a relatively strong side capable of challenging for a third straight title. 

On paper, FC Platinum appears the strongest side in the league as compared to the majority of the teams ahead of the new season. 

On top of an already established squad, Norman Mapeza added utility player Godknows Murwira from Ngezi Platinum Stars, Perfect Chikwende from Bulawayo Chiefs as well as Lameck Nhamo, who signed from Triangle United.

Murwira, who can play as a defender or attacking midfielder and made it onto the 2018 Soccer Stars of the Year list, will with no doubt give Mapeza more options while Nhamo could also be an answer to Platinum’s woes in front of goal. 

Scoring has been Platinum’s biggest challenge as evidenced in the Champions League where they remain the only side out of the 16 teams in the tournament that is yet to find target in their group after four matches to sit at the bottom with a single point.

Should Nhamo emulate the same form that saw him finish last season with 15 goals — two behind eventual Top Goalscorer of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere — there is no doubt he will be a menace to a lot of teams in the league.  

With two matches left in their group in the Champions League, the platinum miners are already out of contention for the knockout stages but Mapeza is now desperate to use those matches to fine tune his squad for the upcoming season.

“Our objective remains the same to win each and every game we play. We might be out of reckoning for the knockout stages of the Champions League but we want to try and wrap up on a winning note,” Mapeza said recently.

“For us it’s no longer just about the champions league but also preparing for the new season. We are using the opportunity to try different combinations while working on our shortcomings. 

“There is no better way to prepare for the new season like playing against such teams like Pirates and Esperance.”

“This campaign has been an eye opener for us, it was a learning experience for everyone associated with the club. We hope to come back better next time. We now know what is needed at this level of the game and we hope to improve next time.”

Pure Platinum Play will play Pirates in South Africa next week before completing their group games with a date against Esperance shorty before the Zimbabwe season kicks off. 

This means the Zvishavane-based side will be match fit and ready to roll on the domestic scene while other teams will need a bit of weeks before hitting top gear. 

After finishing second last year, Ngezi Platinum Stars are not leaving any stone unturned in their bid to win this year’s title. 

The Mhondoro-based side started by bringing in Erol Akbay as the new coach to succeed Tonderai Ndiraya.

Ndiraya was sacked by the Zimplats-owned side last season with only five games to go with the team in second place and only five points behind eventual champions FC Platinum.

Madamburo went on to finish the season in the same position but some 13 points behind Pure Platinum Play with Clifton Kadurira in temporary charge.

However, towards the end of last year, Ngezi Platinum announced they had appointed Akbay to take charge on a permanent basis.

The Dutchman’s backroom staff is made up of his former assistant at Highlanders Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu and former Chapungu and Shabanie Mine coach Tendai Chikuni. 

The brief from the Ngezi Platinum hierarchy is very clear; the club has demanded the Dutchman to deliver the elusive title in only their fourth season in the top flight.   

They are currently in South Africa where they have lined up a number of friendly matches. 

They played their first practice match which saw them lose 4 -1 to Bidvest Wits which probably reminded Akbay of the amount of work he has at hand. 

“. . . it’s work in progress and there is still a lot which needs to be done. Of course the combinations are coming slowly and hopefully by the time we start the season we will be up there,” Akbay said after the defeat to Wits. 

Dynamos is one of the teams that has also been busy on the market. 

It’s a huge task for their coach Lloyd Chigowe to assemble a competitive squad considering that the club lost at least three quarters of their playing staff from last season.

DeMbare had a poor 2018 campaign in which they flirted with relegation for most periods before finally securing their Premiership status with three games to go. 

In the end, Chigowe’s side finished in 11th place some 36 points behind back-to-back champions FC Platinum. 

They are now desperate to improve this year with Edward Sadomba leading a cast of new players that also includes exciting Aces Youth Soccer Academy product Junior Selemani and former CAPS United striker Amon Kambanje.

Attacking linkman Jerome Nyateme, Congolese dribbler Ngandu Mankala and former Nichrut right back Joseph Ali Maliselo are also some of the new faces at the Glamour Boys.

Defender Munyaradzi Mawadza who joined from Division One side Beta XI and Aces Academy product Emmanuel Jalaya are also some of the players expected to shine for Dynamos this season. 

The Glamour Boys have since lined up a tour of Malawi and South Africa to fine tune their team. 

Their neighbours CAPS United are also eager to establish a competitive unit following an indifferent 2018 season. 

Makepekepe finished last season in a lowly eighth place on the log, a massive 30 points behind back-to-back champions FC Platinum.

United were actually closer to the relegation zone than they were challenging for the title last season. 

At the end of last season, United showed the exit door to a number of their senior players who were deemed excess baggage while signing some exciting talent.

They have since re-signed Phineas Bhamusi following a successful year with Triangle. The club also completed the signing of winger Gabriel Nyoni and striker Newman Sianchali from Highlanders. 

Midfielder Ronald Chitiyo, who did not kick a ball for the whole of 2018, has also recovered from a knee injury and will probably be like a new signing for United after the long lay-off.

United have also added striker Clive Rupiya from Chapungu while midfielder Pride Zivengwa was signed from newly-promoted Gweru-based side TelOne FC. 

The club also managed to retain the services of midfielder Joel Ngodzo despite interest from various other clubs.

Their coach Lloyd Chitembwe is now working on the tactics and combinations ahead of the start of the season with a number of friendly matches being lined up. It is the same story for almost all the PSL teams as they move to fine-tune their teams ahead of the new season. 

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.