BY Anesu Chakanetsa
QUIET they were during the pre-season workouts and hungry they looked on the field of play.
Caps United, the Green Machine looked smart, both with the ball as well as attire and made a decent start to the season, beating Manica Diamonds 2-0 thanks to Thulani Joseph and Blessing Sarupinda.
Tomorrow, the early log leaders play yet another mining team, Ngezi Platinum.
They are facing a Ngezi itching to prove their mettle in the Zimbabwe Soccer Premier League, seven years since they were promoted.
They have hired and fired coaches.
They have even engaged former Zimbabwe international and captain Benjani Mwaruwari who they unceremoniously booted out.
And their first game was a wake-up call; they drew one-all against Amakhosi Amahle, Bulawayo Chiefs, last week, away from home at the Babourfields.
They had to rely on a Qadr Amin free kick in the second half to equalise.
Down in the western suburb of Bulawayo called Luveve, both Chicken Inn and Simba Bhora will be looking for their respective first wins in the ZPSL 2023 league.
Simba Bhora were disappointed in their maiden outing. They thought they had made it against FC Platinum at the gigantic NSS but Juan Mutudza’s brace proved why FC Platinum are not only the reigning champions, but have become the best of Zimbabwe’s football for the past decade.
Chicken Inn have been clandestinely doing their pre-season business but the Prince Matore-coached side started off with a disappointing nil-all draw against new boys Sheashum, last week.
The ‘Gamecocks’ called time on veteran defenders Guide Goddard and Moses Jackson.
Despite acquiring midfielders like Callum English-Brown from Whawha and Genius Mutungamiri from Bulawayo City, the Gamecocks still seem lukewarm.
In Harare, the army side, Black Rhinos, will be looking to upsetting title favourites Highlanders in a tight encounter.
Highlanders have been doing the work pre-season, including naming a high powered technical team to take care of different departments in the club.
The coach is Brito Baltemor who is currently attending a UEFA A refresher course. He will be assisted by analyst and interpreter Antonio Torres.
Former Assistant coach Joel Lupahla has been named the strikers’ coach.
And Madinda Ndlovu, the gist of the club, the legend, is back in the technical team as the other assistant coach.
Madinda Ndlovu was the gaffer who led the team to four consecutive titles between 1998 and 2002.
He groomed players in the team that went on to win the 2006 title with Methembe Ndlovu, comprising Honour Gombami, Johannes Ngodzo, Mthulisi Maphosa and Ralph Mathema, among others.
And its not surprising that the Highlanders squad comprise players of both the young new group and the old group for continuity of experience.
He is a coach who is not new to winning but he watched his team go through a tedious and controversial draw against ZPC Kariba last week.
Torres, who was the assistant coach on Saturday, thought the referee did not give enough additional time.
Neverthess, a 90 minute game awaits tommorow at the NSS where Bosso will have to prove why they are the projected title favourites.
Champions FC Platinum, who started on a high note against new boys Simba Bhora, have a home advantage against Cranborne Bullets at Mandava. The former will look foward to marching on with their dominant form on the latter.
Cranborne Bullets did nor score any single league goal against FC Platinum last season, suffering 1-0 in the first leg and 0-3 in the second leg. Only complacency will pull dowm the pride of Zvishavane.
Down in the Lowveld, at Gibbo Stadium in Triangle, the students, Herentals FC, are on a trip to learn, but no-one knows if they will come back with maximum points.
Green Fuels, sharing the same venue with Triangle FC, will perhaps be itching to show students what they brought from the lower division.
For the first time, Triangle wil be playing away at home against Manica Diamonds in what seems to be arguably the game of the day for Sunday.
Well it’s initially Manica Diamonds that will be at home, but they will be away from their fans. Gibbo will be an interesting home of football this season.
Manica have a better head-to-head from last season, winning by 2-1 in the first encounter and drawing 1-1 in the second leg against Triangle.
Dynamos, who have been trending weeklong because of the juju issue in Bulawayo, will take on new boys Sheasham.
DeMbare beat Hwange at the Babourfields last week but Richard Chihoro was the controversial figure when he went to the Dynamos attacking post and poured some ‘holy stuff’ in the goal area
Dynamos eventually scored.
In the book ‘A Fine Madness’ by Mashingaidze Gomo, a poem questions why Africans are able to use man-made lightning to fight each other rather than fight the Western machinations.
Maybe Chihoro should be hired to use juju when Zimbabwe play international matches. Remember Richard Justin Zawazawa who, according to reports, was hired by Malawi national team as a jujuman but posted as a kit manager. Malawi did not win the trophy though but managed to shockingly beat Zimbabwe in the tournament.
They are the Richards of this World.
Sheasham had a better start to their season by holding on to a draw against 2015 champions Chicken Inn.
Yadah date Hwange at Baobab while on Monday ZPC Kariba date Bulawayo Chiefs at the National Sports Stadium.
Castle Lager Premier League Week 2 Fixtures
Saturday, March 25 2023
Ngezi Platinum vs CAPS United: Baobab Stadium – 13hr
FC Platinum vs Cranborne Bullets: Mandava Stadium – 15hr
Chicken Inn vs Simba Bhora: Luveve Stadium – 15hr
Black Rhinos vs Highlanders:National Sports Stadium – 15hr
Green Fuel vs Herentals: Gibbo Stadium – 15hr
Sunday, March 26 2023
Dynamos vs Sheasham: National Sports Stadium – 15hr
Manica Diamonds vs Triangle: Gibbo Stadium – 15hr
Yadah vs Hwange:Baobab Stadium – 15hr
Monday, March 27 2023
ZPC Kariba vs Bulawayo Chiefs:National Sports Stadium – 15hr