PSL coaches ready to rumble
FOR the country’s flagship sport — football — the coronavirus-induced break has been a journey in the wilderness. And for Premiership coaches it is now 16 months without sitting in the dugout.
Harare City coach Lloyd Chitembwe described the experience as terrible, although the Warriors assistant is now feeling “excited” by the prospects of the PSL finally returning with a cup competition this weekend.
The 18-team tournament, which will be played in a cluster format — and believed to be bankrolled by Delta Beverages — will be launched in the capital this week.
It is expected to kick off on Saturday.
The actual league marathon would then follow on July 17.
“It has been a very terrible experience, missing out on the things that have become part of you,” Chitembwe said.
“Football has become part of our lives for years, so it’s very exciting that it is coming back now. We just can’t wait for the games to begin,” he said.
Although the PSL chiefs have kept the identity of the cup sponsors top secret, the competition is believed to be the traditional Chibuku Super Cup.
Chitembwe’s Harare City are the most successful club in that competition, having won the trophy twice, but their camp was in chaos last week as players briefly boycotted training over unpaid salaries.
The municipal-owned side has not paid players’ salaries since January.
However, Chitembwe played down the crisis and believes his charges will be up to the task when the games kick-off.
“All has been normal. It’s all fine now and we are raring to go.
“At the end of the day, the players know that they have to play and produce despite some issues. The most important thing is for them not to be distracted from their core business, which is playing and getting good results.”
Chitembwe has beefed up his squad with the addition of the former CAPS United duo of skilful Clive Rupiya and defender Spencer Masunda.
Chibuku Super Cup holders Highlanders upped their preparations with a practice match against league champions FC Platinum at Mandava yesterday.
“We are the holders of the premium knockout trophy in the land and we want to defend it,” Bosso coach Mandla Mpofu said.
After losing Michelle Katsvairo, Mkhokheli Dube, Cleopas Kapupurika, Brian Banda, Denzel Khumalo, Tinashe Makanda and Chris Mverechena, Highlanders made some touch-ups to their team.
They re-hired 2019 Soccer Star of the Year, Joel “Josta” Ngodzo, and also brought in experience in the form of midfielder Winston Mhango, who joined as a free agent from Kabwe Warriors of Zambia.
Former Black Rhinos defender Andrew Tandi, Pritchard Mpelele and Keith Mavhunga are also now at the Bulawayo giants.
Reigning Coach of the Year and Chicken Inn gaffer, Joey “Mafero” Antipas, is also ready to rumble.
“It’s good to get back and test your wits against other top coaches. It’s been a long time since we have been in action.
“We are all looking forward to getting back into action,” Antipas said.
The Gamecocks welcomed back Tafadzwa Kutinyu, who left Guinea side Horoya AC and joins former Ngezi Platinum Stars speedy winger Michael Charamba at the 2015 champions.
Valentine Kadonzvo (Ngezi Platinum Stars) and Tichaona Chipunza, who joined Nkana FC in Zambia, are some of the notable departures at Chicken Inn.
ZPC Kariba coach Godfrey Tamirepi has been preparing his team silently in the resort town and is confident of posting results after adding the former CAPS United duo of Goodwin Goriyati and Kudzai Nyamupfukudza.
Byron Madzokere, who left Dynamos without kicking a ball, former Harare City and Highlanders left-back Collin Mujuru are also now at ZPC Kariba, who lost Toto Banda and Chrispen Ncube to Bosso.
“Great news! This is where our bread and butter comes from and we have been missing those insults and criticisms,” remarked Tamirepi.
Despite losing workaholic midfielder Marvelous Mukumba to Ngezi Platinum Stars, Black Rhinos looked decent when they beat CAPS United 1-0 in a practice match at Motor Action on Thursday.
Former Dynamos player Tawanda Chisi scored the solitary goal.
Chisi has been joined at Rhinos by Kudzanai Dhemere, who has also left DeMbare.
Wing-back Gareth Madhake, formerly with Harare City, and centre-back Tendai Ruziye from Black Mambas are now at Chauya Chipembere.
Yadah Stars coach, Genesis Mangombe, is now working on combinations as he eyes a decent performance in the cup competition.
“My team is shaping up now. Starting on Monday (tomorrow) we will start working on technical aspects and see all the combinations and movement basing on our philosophy,” said Mangombe.
Yadah have added former Mushowani Stars holding midfielder Tinotenda Mutyambizi and the unheralded Tanaka Shandirwa, who was poached from lower division side Mbare National.
Tanyaradzwa Huni, formerly with TelOne and Black Rhinos, powerful striker Fortune Bhinzi, left-back Clive Boroma and ex-Black Mambas player Tendai Chinungo are the new faces at the “Miracle Boys.”
Godfrey “Marabha” Mukambi, Issa Sadiki, Godknows Mangani and Amon Kambanje are some of the senior players at Yadah, who lost defenders Sydney Linyama and Bright Chayambuka.
After seeing his stock fall in the last few years, Wisdom Mutasa is now trying to resuscitate his career at newly promoted side Bulawayo City, who are in the hands of the somewhat controversial Philani “Beefy” Ncube.
Nomadic midfielder Dominic Mukandi and former Yadah Stars player Wellington Kamudyariwa are also now at Bulawayo City.
Herentals have been on the market of late, adding former Black Rhinos midfielder Kibaki Dhlamini and Clemence Zimondi, an ex-Mushowani Stars player.
The Students also welcomed back star player Kelvin Bingala, who was released by Zambian side Lumwamwa Radiants.
Dynamos gave a glimpse of what they are capable of when they beat Highlanders 2-0 in the Uhuru Cup, with dribbling wizard Tanaka Chidhobha stealing the show with some amazing moves.
Chidhobha is one of the star players in a seemingly powerful Dynamos side that also has the likes of Juan Mutudza, King Nadolo, Barnabas Mushunje, Tinotenda “Kedha” Chiunye, Shadreck Nyahwa and Trevor Mavhunga.
DeMbare gaffer Tonderai Ndiraya thanked the Government, ZIFA and PSL for allowing them to return to business.
“We are excited to return to doing what we know best. Football is our life and we lost a lot of ground in our development as coaches — players, too. We want to recover lost ground, and it can be recovered when playing . . .”
The cluster competition will be hosted in four centres — Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Zvishavane.
Pool A, which will be based in Harare, consists of CAPS United, Dynamos, Harare City, Herentals, Yadah and ZPC Kariba, while Pool B will be in Bulawayo with Bulawayo Chiefs, Bulawayo City, Chicken Inn and Highlanders.
Manica Diamonds, Tenax, Black Rhinos and Cranborne Bullets make up Pool C.
Pool D will be based in Zvishavane and consists of FC Platinum, Ngezi Platinum Stars, Triangle and Whawha.
The top two teams from each group will progress to the quarter-finals, then semis and the final, which will be played at a venue to be decided by the sponsors.
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