Let the games begin

MEMORIES of CAPS United lifting the 2016 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) trophy at Ascot Stadium right on the last day of the season still linger on like yesterday.

Euphoria has already kicked in as the 2017 PSL season gets underway tomorrow across the country with football fans hoping for another entertainment-filled campaign.

This season promises to surpass the previous one in terms of unpredictability and sheer entertainment for supporters and neutrals alike, considering the usual suspects are all looking bolstered for the challenge.

Normally, a league is a marathon, not a sprint, and when one looks at strengths and the depth of each of the title contenders, there is no doubt that defending champions’ name — CAPS United — keeps cropping up.

Top coaches will testify that stability and continuity are indispensable factors in a title challenge and this is where Lloyd Chitembwe’s charges comes out on top having maintained the bulk of their championship winning squad from last season.
Despite Highlanders’ immense additions during the transfer window which closes today and Ngezi Platinum Stars engaging in arguably the biggest transfers of the window, nothing beats the presence of Edmore Sibanda in goal, Dennis Dauda at the back, and Devon Chafa, who is arguably one of the best box to box midfielder in the PSL league.

The signing of Ronald Chitiyo by the Green Machine is a top draw acquistion by the champions.

And with Simba Nhivi constantly showing signs of improvement upfront, all those players have been there and done it, something massively advantageous for the club, which uncharacteristically has the lowest additions this term, which means they won’t be waiting for players to get used to each other.

This is considering that Lloyd Mutasa is trying to build a new team at Dynamos, FC Platinum has fairly a young crop of players still trying to find their way under Norman Mapeza, and Highlanders despite adding some exciting additions they still appear to show signs of weakness.

Ngezi Platinum Stars’ several new players, all brought in to improve on last year’s impressive charge, will need time to settle at Baobab, and the absence of a proven goalscorer is likely to be felt at the club judging by how they struggled in African Safari.

In as much as Bosso’s Erol Akbay show signs of heralding a new era of success for the Bulawayo giants, with the signing of a proven goal scorer in former Dynamos striker, Roderick Mutuma and two other foreign strikers that might help right the wrongs of last season, PSL title winning odds are tilted in favour of Makepekepe.

The Green Machine defied all odds to dump five-time African champions TP Mazembe of DR Congo out of the Caf champions league on away goals rule having played a 1-1 draw in Lubumbashi before forcing a goalless draw in Harare in the return leg.

The result meant Makepekepe qualified for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. CAPS United will begin their title defence with a long journey to PSL returnees Shabanie Mine at Maglas Stadium on Sunday and Chitembwe has declared his charges ready.

“We want to try and continuously improve from what we did last season. We still have the same kind of motivation and drive to do well,” Chitembwe told the Weekend Post yesterday.

“For us it’s not about setting targets but the inner drive and motivation from within to want and achieve a lot of things. So yes, we have always been ready since we started playing in those Africa matches.”
Saturday: Harare City v Yadah (National Sports Stadium), ZPC Kariba v How Mine (Nyamhunga Stadium), Ngezi Platinum v Black Rhinos (Baobab Stadium), Chapungu v Triangle United (Ascot Stadium), Bantu Rovers v Chicken Inn (Luveve Stadium), Tsholotsho v Hwange (Dulivhadzimo Stadium)
Sunday: Dynamos v FC Platinum (National Sports Stadium), Shabanie Mine v CAPS United (Maglas Stadium), Highlanders v Bulawayo City (Barbourfields Stadium). —Godknows Matarutse

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