By Eddie Chikamhi
Giants Dynamos and Highlanders say they dream of going back to the days when they dominated the domestic Premiership.
The country’s two biggest teams featured in the President’s Independence Trophy, at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, to mark the return of domestic football, after a year of inactivity.
Despite the obvious fitness concerns, Dynamos coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, is convinced he has the right quality, to challenge for honours, in the Premiership.
His new-look Glamour Boys won 2-0 to lift the silverware.
Highlanders coach, Mandla Mpofu, also told The Herald he is aiming for continuity, with his team, as the bulk of the players in the current squad have been together, since 2018.
Mpofu said he aims to mould his Bosso side around the returning midfielder, Joel Ngodzo, who showed, in the second half of the Uhuru Cup, he still possesses the touch that won him the 2019 Soccer Star of the Year award.
Ngodzo completed his move to his former club last week and was thrown into the fray for the remaining 25 minutes on Sunday.
The 32-year-old showed he still commands the midfield, where he bossed the DeMbare newboys.
“I was very happy with the performance but, of course, not the result,” said Mpofu.
“Remember this was our first week. We are going to work on our pre-season and our tactics.
“I have a feeling that this team is going to compete.
“This team that we are building, if it’s gets fitter and fitter, it’s going to be unbelievable.
“We are going there to compete because I think it’s a formidable team that has experienced players.”
Bosso have 18 players, who have been in the structures, since 2018.
They only have six new players coming in and Mpofu believes this will help in the quest for continuity.
Former Hwange man Pritchard Mphelele, Winston Mhango, Andrew Tandi, Toto Banda, Lynoth Chikuhwa and Chrispen Ncube are some of the new players they unveiled.
Only Banda did not take part in the Uhuru Trophy as the teams were allowed by the organisers to field unlimited substitutes, from their 18-member squads, because of fitness worries.
Bosso featured in their starting line-up the likes of goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, Peter Muduhwa, Nqobizitha Masuku, Andrew Mbeba, Ray Lunga, Godfrey Makaruse, Mbongeni Ndlovu and Divine Mhindirira.
“The first team that played is the team that we had from 2018. We had only three new faces in the first 11. So, it’s about continuity.
“Even when we got the other new guys in the second half I was much impressed by Josta, he came in and gave us another dimension.
“I could have played him first but I was really cautious because of his fitness levels. He trained for two days.
“So, I said to myself “this is not World Cup.”
“There are so many important games to play so let me just reserve him to play 15-20 minutes. But, Josta is unbelievable.
“I am going to build this team around him. He is just a talented young man,” said Mpofu.
Both Highlandres and Dynamos have played second fiddle to FC Platinum in recent years.
The platinum miners have won the last three league titles while DeMbare’s last success was in 2014.
Highlanders have not won the title since 2006.
Despite playing their first competitive game, in over 16 months, Ndiraya said he was also encouraged by his charges.
Dynamos embarked on a rebuilding exercise, last season, when they brought in about 15 players.
They added six more this season.
Goalkeeper Taimon Mvula made his debut for the Glamour Boys alongside fellow newboys like Frank Makarati, Shadreck Nyahwa, Trevor Mavhunga, Tanaka Chidhobha, King Nadolo, Albert Eonde and Tinashe Makanda.
“I think we are a team that is still under construction,” said Ndiraya.
“If you remember most of the players in the team came last year and never played competitive football.
“Then, we brought in five players this year. So it’s a virtually new team, and, without really preparing we plunged into a serious match.
“But, you could see some signs of what we are trying to do when we attack and when we defend.
“I think with more practice, and more training, we can really come good in those two aspects of the game.
“Then, of course, there is the issue of transition.
“I think our players are still slow, we are not really very good when we regain the possession, going forward. It’s an area we really need to work on.
“Given more time, we are going to work on those aspects of the game and then have a complete team,” said Ndiraya. The Herald