BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
It’s easy to see that there is some sort of renewed ambition at Premier Soccer League side Black Rhinos.
For once they have been one of the most active clubs on the transfer market during the current offseason window.
One has to go back to the 2004 Independence Trophy to remember the last time Rhinos won a major cup in Zimbabwe, and 1987, the last time the team were champions of Zimbabwe.
Maybe there is general consensus at the club to change all that in 2019.
Chauya Chipembere, promoted in 2016, have finished seventh in their two campaigns since rejoining the top-flight league.
And for the upcoming season, the army side’s coach, Herbert Maruwa, who joined the club last year, has already set lofty goals amid rumours that the Rhinos hierarchy is coveting the league title.
“As a coach, last season I did very well considering it was my first year coaching in Zimbabwe as head coach and I was satisfied. This year, as you can see, there are a lot of new guys, we need to improve the team and we need to compete. Basically, my first year was a learning curve and now we are going to fight for a top-four finish,” Maruwa said in the wake of his side’s one-all pre-season friendly draw with Ngezi Platinum.
Formerly with Green Mambas and Mbabane Highlanders in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Maruwa last year built an exciting side that competed impressively in the league.
This time around the coach has brought a number of top players including Francisco Zekumbawire, Moses Demera, Gift Saunyama, Marvelous Mukumba and Leeroy Murape.
Wilson Chakanyuka, Jameson Mukombwe and Andrew Tandi have been called back to the club, while winger Farai Mupasiri is on the verge of joining the army side.
Maruwa is looking for another winger, a defender and a goalkeeper.
Such a rich team sheet makes Rhinos one of the dark horses for the league title this season. It is also the coach’s ambition to create a legacy at the club.
“I am quite satisfied (with the team’s display against Ngezi), it’s now three weeks in training and the boys are already looking good and they can only get better.
“I want to be a good coach and make sure we win something because it has been long since Rhinos won a cup. I want to win a cup and I also want to introduce a particular style of play and at the same time I want to introduce youngsters. Already I have a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old in the team, so I want to fuse experience with youth to bring success to the club,” the former Dynamos development coach said.
Rhinos are currently sweating on the availability of a replacement for injured top marksman Lot Chiwunga, who is expected back to fitness in May, two months into the new season.
Goalkeeper Ashley Reyners, unveiled as a Manica Diamonds player last month, remains at Rhinos since he is still contracted to the club.