Good Friday marks a momentous day for Premier Soccer League (PSL) debutants as they kick the ball for the first time in the big boys’ league.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
While returnees Black Rhinos have been in the premiership waters before, it is Tripple B, How Mine and former Eastern Region outfit Triangle who would be making their maiden campaign in the modern top flight league.
Beitbridge side Tripple B were promoted from the Central Region, while How Mine won the fiercely contested Southern Region race on the last day of last season, with Rhinos storming back into the PSL on a Northern Region ticket.
The quartet would be part of a nine-month league voyage of 480 matches in 43 200 minutes of action.
They would also be trying to stake a claim in Cup competitions.
But the past four seasons have seen at least two promoted sides relegated.
This trend has summed up the fact that the new boys would have not been fit enough for premiership football.
Rhinos enjoyed years of dominance in the 1980s where they claimed the league title twice (1984 and 1987), but in recent years they have carved themselves a reputation of local football’s see-saw brigade.
Relegated in 2007 after many years of top-tier football, the soldiers were again at the end of the 2009 season condemned to the First Division where they had plied their trade the previous term.
Club chairman, Dennias Madanhi feels this year would mark the rebirth of the old Chauya Chipembere where they will reassert themselves as an indomitable force in Zimbabwean football.
“This time around we are in the PSL to stay for good. We have learnt from our past mistakes and we now know how to avoid relegation,” said Col Madanhi.
“Most importantly a team should be managed properly in terms of administration and players’ welfare should be of paramount significance. A top-eight finish would be fair for us and from then on, we will work to restore our former glory years,” he said.
With a war chest composed of the old guards, Lazarus Muhoni, captain Brighton Chandisaita, Lloyd Nyamadzawo and goalkeeper Brito Gwere as well as youngsters who include Bruce Homora, Jameson Mukombwe, Brian Muzondiwa and ex-Chapungu striker Brighton Mugoni, the army side looks balanced.
Unlike moneybags FC Platinum who stormed the PSL with money-splashing antics and gunning for the league title two years ago, equally cash-rich How Mine have preferred to be humble.
Cushioned by strong financial backing of mining concern Metallon Gold, How Mine chairman Mlondolozi Nkomo and his team are just seeking survival this year before they compete for the title next season.
“We are ready for the big boys,” declared Nkomo.
“We are just playing to survive this season. We are assured of sound financial support from our parent company, but we are taking it easy.”
Having hired the more experienced Philani Mabhena as coach, the gold miners have assistant coach Sheunesu Chaka who earned them promotion last season as head gaffer.
Veteran defender Hebert Dick, Gilbert Banda, Khumbulani Banda and Ntokozo Tshuma, are some of their experienced acquisitions who also include Simon Njeleza, Menard Mupera and Thabani Moyo who once had a stint in Cyprus.
“We have given our technical team the mandate to assemble a competitive side composed of players with credible premiership experience mixed with those who helped us get promoted. That is our way of ensuring we stay in the PSL,” said Nkomo.
They will be using Bulawayo’s White City Stadium as their home ground while their How Mine Stadium is renovated.
Tripple B brings back premiership in beitbridge
Tripple B brought back premiership football to the boarder town of Beitbridge since 2009 when the now-defunct Underhill were relegated after two seasons of top-flight football.
Having entrusted premiership veterans to lead their maiden campaign, Tripple B president Eddie Kanyangu is unfazed by the grim prospect of being let down by pairs of old legs.
“We are just trying to stabilise things. They are not spent forces, but experienced players needed to carry us in the more competitive premiership. I am sure they will help us to a top-eight finish and we will not have to fight relegation all season long,” said Kanyangu.
Norman Maroto, John Kapenya and Edmore Chafungamoyo have been added to a squad that was already brimming with ageing players.
Tripple B who turn three years-old this season and owned by Kanyangu are not certain if they will get enough funding to last the season.
Lowveld’s Triangles breaks 40-year wait for top flight football
In the lowveld, Triangle ended their 40-year wait to finally earn premiership status.
Bankrolled by sugar manufacturing company Tongaat Hulett, Triangle are guaranteed sound financial backing and are not worried about getting relegated.
Club chairman Martin Sibanda appears to have learnt about what have short-lived some debutantes’ premiership stay.
“I have realised that administration or technical squabbles often contribute to new teams failing to last the distance. Players need to be paid their salaries and winning bonuses on time. Our goal is to remain in the PSL,” said Sibanda.
Having been promoted using former CAPS United players David Sengu and Tineyi Meda as well as the former Dynamos trio of Leo Kurauzvione, William Mapfumo and Tofireyi Sambo, Triangle have again turned to PSL veterans to reinforce their squad.
Daniel Kamunhenga, Blessing Chimwamuchere, Pardon Chinungwa, Courage Denias, Limited Chikafa and young goalkeeper Ashley Reyners from relegated Hardbody have joined them.
They would be the first to plunge into acid waters with a week three home tie against Highlanders followed by another reality check away at mean Dynamos the following weekend.
During week five, it would be How Mine’s turn when they host CAPS United, while Black Rhinos are next when they travel to Highlanders a week later when Tripple B would also be having their own stern test by hosting Dynamos.
In week seven, Tripple B who have played both DeMbare and Bosso in their pre-season will again be at home but this time to Bosso.