By Grace Chingoma and Mukudzei Chingwere
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League 2016 champions CAPS United have congratulated rivals FC Platinum for winning the 2017 title and advised the Zvishavane miners to be shrewd on the transfer market as they seek to bolster their squad ahead of next year’s Champions League.
CAPS United president Farai Jere reckoned that FC Platinum have the capacity to be good representatives of Zimbabwean football on the continent and follow the trend set by his side in this year’s edition of the prestigious knock-out tournament.
The Green Machine reached the group stages of the Champions League. However, Jere said in as much as the African adventure feeling is a good one, the new champions should not repeat some of the mistakes that CAPS United made along the way in the tournament.
Jere acknowledged that it is important to beef-up one’s squad in preparation for the African Safari, it also important not to get swept away in the euphoria of playing continental football.
CAPS United picked a trail of good results along the way, including massive wins over continental club heavyweights TP Mazembe, Egyptian giants Zamalek and USM Alger of Algeria.
The campaign was also hugely successful with CAPS United stars Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo, Abbas Amidu and Ronald Pfumbidzai securing contracts outside the country due to their Champions League exploits.
Although participation in the Champions League is a bigger platform with huge rewards, Jere believes there is need to maintain “coolness” to a certain degree.
“You cannot buy all the best players playing in the league once you become champions. Yes, you need to boost the squad for the gruelling Champions League at the same time analysing which areas do need beefing-up, which ones are okay and should be left like that.
“Look at what we did, we ended up having too many players on each position, good players for that matter and we were forced to loan out some of the players because we had signed too many players prior to winning the league, which in the end created some problems for us,” said Jere.
FC Platinum have already promised a better outing in the African Safari this time around following their maiden appearance a few years back.
Coach Norman Mapeza and his team have already put shoulders to the wheel in search of talent they believe could further strengthen their squad for their African adventure.
As Jere gave his advice to FC Platinum, the miners yesterday completed the signing of versatile player Liberty Chakoroma from Ngezi Platinum Stars and Bulawayo City’s central midfielder Kelvin Madzongwe.
Talks are now at an advanced stage to recruit the services of left-sided defender Edwin Madhanhanga from relegated Harare City. Club sources said the player has agreed to join the champions, but the Sunshine Boys are yet to sanction the sale.
Mapeza recently indicated he wants to recruit at least two top players for every position to stand the heat in the African Safari without negating the quest to retain their title next year.
Former young Warriors skipper, Chakoroma and Madzongwe will come in as direct replacements for the departing Gerald Takwara, who is on his way to the South African Premiership.
FC Platinum media liaison officer Chido Chizondo confirmed that the club is now very active on the transfer market, but was unwilling to disclose the names of their targets and those they have recruited.
“It is true that we are in the market and that we want to make some additions to the squad. There are players we are in contact with, but I am sorry I cannot make their names public it will jeopardise negotiations.
Next year we will be playing many games and it is paramount for us to add some few players to the squad. Once we have completed the deals with the players and clubs we will tell you their names. For now, I cannot talk of players who are not part of us.
The names that people are just throwing around linking them with FC Platinum is just speculation and it is not true that we want to bring some of those players here,” said Chizondo.
Despite winning the championship, the miners failed to hit the net with some semblance of regularity, managing a not so commendable 40 goals from 34 matches and they had to build their title winning charge on a frugal backline that only leaked 15 goals, the lowest in the division.
The impotency in front of goal might have motivated the Zvishavane-based side to clear the way for their former son — Donald Ngoma — to return to the club, strong indications suggest that the striker is determined to rejoin the miners.
The gangly forward spent the better part of last month working in the FC Platinum gym to remain fit following a long spell on the sidelines.
Creative midfielder Clemence Matawu’s artistry in the final third, which usually brings the best out of strikers, is believed to have charmed Mapeza and his technical department. The Herald