We are ready'. . . Harrison says as City brace for FC Platinum test

With a blockbuster opening 2019 Castle Lager Premiership encounter against champions FC Platinum, Harare City coach Mark Harrison believes his side is equipped to cope with the rigours of this campaign.

The Sunshine Boys will have their backs against the wall when they host the Zvishavane-based side, who have won the last two domestic championships. Pure Platinum Play also enhanced their reputation by reaching the group stages of the 2018-19 Africa Champions League recently.

Although Norman Mapeza’s side failed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition, they however, gained valuable experience by pitting their wits against some of the continent’s best teams. The reigning champions also retained the majority of their title-winning squad from last year with the exception of striker Rodwell Chinyengetere, who signed for South Africa Absa Premiership side Baroka FC and midfielder Winston Mhango, who is now in Zambia with Kabwe Warriors.

Pure Platinum Play added utility player Godknows Murwira from Ngezi Platinum Stars, Perfect Chikwende from Bulawayo Chiefs while Lameck Nhamo signed from Triangle United. On the other hand, the Sunshine Boys finished in a lowly ninth place on the log last season and also surrendered their Chibuku Super Cup crown after losing 2-0 to Triangle in the final.

Harare City lost goalkeeper Ryan Harrison, who decided to cut short his stay in Zimbabwe, and opted to return to his native England to pursue a coaching career. Defender Bright Chayambuka joined Triangle while midfielder Marlvin Gaki was snapped up by Bulawayo side Chicken Inn.

Harrison reacted by bringing in some exciting talent such as defender Marshal Machazane, who was expelled by Dynamos towards the end of last season. City also landed highly-rated Young Warriors holding midfielder Tatenda Tavengwa from relegated Bulawayo City.

They also landed the former CAPS United pair of Milton Ncube and Peter Moyo. However, Makepekepe are insisting Ncube still has a contract with the club and the matter has now spilled over to the courts.

Former triangle and Dynamos midfielder Walter Mukanga also signed for the sunshine Boys from Ngezi Platinum Stars.
The club has promoted midfielder Shingirai Musukuta and goalkeeper Arnold Mukuli from their development side Harare City Cubs.

Highly-rated Aces Youth Soccer Academy midfielder Collin Mujuru also joined the Sunshine Boys prompting Harrison to declare his charges ready for the challenge that awaits them when they begin the season with Friday’s clash against the defending champions.
“I think we have strengthened and I think the youngsters from the Cubs are beginning to grow up as well which is a good thing and the competition in the squad is very strong now,” Harrison said.

“When the season finally starts, I think the players need to stand up and be counted. I would like us to improve on what we did last year.
“We finished ninth last season and a top six finish will be a good improvement. That is what we are looking for at this moment.”

When the two sides met last season, FC Platinum won the first game 3-1 at Mandava while City won the reverse fixture 1-0 at Rufaro. 
Harrison hopes his new arrivals would be able to rectify their shortcomings in front of goal which was their biggest letdown last season.

Out of the 34 league matches last year, the Sunshine Boys managed 18 draws and had they converted at least 10 of those stalemates into wins, they could have at least challenged for the title.
“So far it appears a similar scenario in font of goal... we have been creating a lot of chances as well but failing to put them away,”

Harrison said of the progress they have made in pre-season thus far.
“But it’s something that we have to keep working on. I think it’s a problem throughout Africa; goal-scoring is a major problem.
“So we just need to keep on working on the field of play. I think all the new players are doing good and should add what we were missing last season.”

Fri: Harare City v FC Platinum (Rufaro)
Sat: Black Rhinos v Highlanders (NSS), Chicken Inn v ZPC Kariba (Luveve), Mushowani v Dynamos (Rufaro), Chapungu v Byo Chiefs (Mandava)
Sun: CAPS United v Manica Diamonds (NSS), Traingle United v Ngezi Platinum (Gibbo), Hwange v Yadah (Colliery), Herentals v TelOne FC (Ruforo).

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