Dongo FC ready for the premiership
By Samuel Kadungure
RUSAPE – Domestic Premiership new entrants, Dongo Sawmills director, Francis Dongo, believes the club has now assembled a formidable squad to match the requirements of top-flight league competition.
Dongo FC have so far played three friendly matches at Vengere Stadium and its most convincing display was against Caps United last Saturday.
On Sunday, Dongo Sawmills played against Flame Lily and lost 0-2. Dongo FC will on Saturday host the flamboyant Harare City where head coach Shadreck “Father” Mugurasave is expected to field a completely different line-up upfront following the capture of skilful striker Dylan Chiwandire and former soccer star-of-the-year, Evans Chikwaikwai.
Though the Caps United match, which was played by the bulk of first team players, ended without either side hitting the back of the net, it was the display by the home team’s combative defenders and midfielders that left the close to 3 000 home fans that paid their way to watch the match to believe that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
The match was the talk of the town, and was proof enough that the team was in the league not just to add numbers, but to compete competitively.
The most glaring deficiency that the match helped to expose and which Mugurasave and his technical team have to work around the clock to find a solution to was the blatant lack of teeth upfront.
The strikers wasted a lot of scoring opportunities, firing blanks or shooting weakly, even in circumstances that were easy to score than missing.
Chikwaikwai and Chiwandire did not play in both matches. Chikwaikwai was named the PSL soccer star of the year in 2008 when he was still at Njube Sundowns. He also won the league’s top goal scorer accolade which saw him catching the eyes of South African side Bidvest FC’s scouts, who offered him a contract.
Chikwaikwai played for Dongo last season in the Eastern Region Division One at the heart of its defence and with the way the team has shaped, he is set to be unleashed in the attacking position as a central striker.
Chikwaikwai and Chiwandire are expected to add both steel and fire-power upfront, though there are concerns about the fitness levels of former Dynamos striker Chiwandire, who of late has been plying his trade in Botswana.
Club owner Francis Dongo has hinted at the possibility of renaming the team Rusape United to identify with its new environs.
The gesture to rename the team is meant to reciprocate the quick way the team has been embraced, financial and moral support that it has enjoyed since adopting Vengere Stadium as its home ground.
Dongo told the local business community and supporters last week that he would cease personalising the project and instead, hand it over to the community, which has been contributing financially, materially and ideally.
He dispelled concerns that the side would be relegated in its debut season in the Premiership, saying he has created a formidable squad to match dynamic requirements for top-flight tournaments and competitions.
Dongo Sawmills has provisionally registered 17 players.
The remainder will be selected after the Harare City match.
Some of the players who had been recalled by Buffaloes but failed to make the grade will be available for selection.
Their availability will give Mugurasave a wide pool of players to select from. Among those registered are Chiwandire, Chikwaikwai, left-back Never Musvipa, Walker Mugiyo, defensive midfielder Dragan Shuvha, roving midfielder Last “Dreadman” Jese, Martin Jongwe, Simba Chihota, Sethe Mberi, Shepherd Sithole, Tawanda Chiunya, Peter Pfumojena, Simba Dingeguru and Tawanda Chipunza.
“Dongo FC will never kick the ball in Nyanga. It is here in Rusape forever. My home town is Marondera and could have taken the project there, but everyone in the team opted for Rusape because there is a unique bond that binds us.
“We are handing over this project to the community. We are either going to succeed or fail as a community. Dongo Sawmill is a community team and requires all our support,” said Dongo.
“We have a completely redesigned chemistry system built around player relationships on the pitch. We can manage this team to its full potential. That is what is critical to success. We are touched by the sportsmanship and love of football exuded by fans in Rusape.
“We are indebted to such unqualified support, and we are even considering renaming the team Rusape United. The name change will be a gesture to reciprocate the financial, moral and material support that the team has been receiving from the local community. We are happy about the preparations and the renovations at the stadium,” said Dongo.
Work to refurbish Vengere Stadium to meet PSL standards is in full swing, with 10 contractors having been hired by the local authority.
Work started with the demolition and expansion of changing rooms, construction of a new changing room for referees, cash reconciliation office and public toilet, the VIP section and maintenance of the pitch itself.
The local authority is also expected to work on the pre-cast wall and open a new main entrance as well as to open seven new entry points around the stadium.
The contractors are racing against time to complete work before the commencement of the season to make it possible for Dongo Sawmills to use it as their home ground.
The league kicks off in the first week of March and it remains to be seen if the facelift would have been completed for the town’s adopted premiership side to launch its artillery from home. He said they were not going to acquire the biggest stars around to build the team.
“We need to give youngsters a chance. We are not going for those big names, but focusing our energies on developing young talented players. We are happy with the preparations and the performance of players, especially in the match against Caps United. Those are the players around which the squad will be built,” said Mugurasave. Manica Post