By Tadious Manyepo
Harare City captain Tendai Samanja has called it a day in the top-flight league as he drops to be the ambitious team’s developmental side Harare City Cubs where he will be a player-coach.
Since breaking into the Premiership football with Monomotapa over a decade ago as a schoolboy, Samanja has never played in the lower division but he has become the latest man to be part of the ongoing developmental programmes at Harare City.
The Sunshine City Boys have set a massive developmental plan for players reaching their sale-by date where they are either sent to school to pursue fields of their choice or they are retained in the system to help the team attain its vision.
And Samanja, who just completed his first level ZIFA coaching badge, will be entrusted with helping the Cubs stay afloat in Division One whilst develop players for the senior team.
The dreadlocked defensive midfielder was recommended for the post by coach Mark Harrison.
Samanja was a bit-part player for the club last season as Moses Muchenje and Tellmore Pio formed a solid partnership in front of defence.
He was honoured as the club’s Most Loyal Player last December.
Harare City secretary-general Mathew Marara confirmed the development and said his team will not be discarding senior players who would be retiring or those who get injured but will retain them into the system.
“Our captain Tendai Samanja has retired from top-flight football as we want to develop him into a future coach for the club. “He has served us with distinction and deserves every support from the club. We will be helping in coaching the Harare City Cubs in Division One,” said Marara.
“He could also be playing if he so wishes because we believe he still has what it takes to be playing competitively at any level. The only reason why he has stepped down from the Premiership is to concentrate on developing his coaching career whilst he is still physically fit and young.
“We can recall him into the senior team if the need arises but we feel he can help us develop young players and sooner he will be joining the senior team’s coaching department.” Samanja helped Harare City win the Chibuku Super Cup in 2015 and 2017 and led the team to silver medals in 2014 and 2018 in the same competition.
Harare City were relegated in 2017 before they were given a second bite at the cherry after the disbandment of How Mine early last year.
The team went on to give a good account of themselves finishing then league marathon on the upper half as well as reaching the final of the Chibuku Super Cup.
They have been very active in the transfer market and have so far signed four high-profile players as they bid for the title this coming season.
Harrison has refused to put himself under pressure saying he will not be gunning for the title but his thrust was on being more competitive than his team was last season.
Former Dynamos captain Marshal Machazane, Ngezi Platinum Stars midfield dynamo Walter Mukanga, CAPS United’s Milton Ncube and Collins Mujuru of Aces Youth Academy have all joined the municipal club while Arnold Mkuli and Denoleen Masukuta have been promoted from the feeder side Harare City Cubs.
Bulawayo City’s Tatenda Tavengwa is also linked with the side but nothing concrete has yet been agreed to.
The team is expected to regroup in the next few days for the commencement of the 2019 season which is scheduled to start in late March.
Harare City played a passing brand of football and were one of the only four teams to have beaten champions FC Platinum. The coming of more players to bolster the squad means more work for the team as there will be more competition for places. Left backs Pritchard Mbelele and Bright Chayambuka know fully well the coming of Ncube will be a challenge for them. The Herald