The Sunday Mail
AFTER releasing Jarrison Selemani, who was arguably the club’s best player last season, Cranborne Bullets are ready to unleash a 17-year-old speedy winger discovered on the outskirts of Harare.
And coach Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera is now convinced he might have unearthed another gem.
Leon Daka could be thrown into the fray when Bullets open their 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League campaign with a clash against fellow army side Black Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
Daka was discovered while playing area zone football in Granary, near the famous Whitehouse Shopping Centre, on the outskirts of Harare. Saruchera is convinced the teenager can eventually fill the gap left by Selemani.
The 25-year-old flourished at Bullets last season after he was surprisingly offloaded by Dynamos, and his performances were good enough to attract FC Platinum.
He mesmerised at Mandava last weekend, scoring one and providing an assist, as FC Platinum clinched a fourth straight Castle Challenge Cup, which is a curtain-raiser to the Premiership.
“We lost our best player for last season, that is, Selemani, but that will not stop us from doing better this time,” said Saruchera, whose side finished 13th last season.
“We have brought in a number of exciting players, including a 17-year-old speedy winger, Daka.”
Tino Meke, who was voted Northern Region’s Player of the Year in 2019, when Bullets won promotion into the PSL, is also expected to blossom this season.
“The 26-year-old Meke was overshadowed by Selemani last season and we now expect him to grab the opportunity and shine. Watch out for the boy.
“We have retained some key players like Brian Muzondiwa and have also brought in experienced players like Honey Chimutimunzeve.” Bullets have also roped in Nigel Muneri from Harare City Cubs, Eric Manokore (Harare District) and Nyasha Gurende (Bulawayo City).
“Gurende is a very reliable centre-back. We also have a good wing-back in Nigel Kupara (23) from Legends Football Academy,” added the gaffer. The clash between Bullets and Rhinos is one of the most intriguing in the opening fixtures.
It is an army derby!
Saruchera is a former Rhinos coach, while a number of players who will play for Chauya Chipembere this season were on loan at Bullets last term. Douglas Mbewe, Kevin Chiripawako and Brian Mukucha are back at Rhinos from Bullets.
Central midfielder Gift Saunyama has joined Rhinos from Herentals, while Garikai Dematsika was promoted from the juniors.
There are also a number of players returning from military training, who include exciting midfielder Kudzanai Nyakudanga, Tatenda Mchisa, Pride “Neymar” Mukombwe and Slyon Chikwerengwe.
“The game against Rhinos will be a good one for the fans. It’s a real derby,” says Saruchera. “I also come from Black Rhinos and they are now being coached by a legend, Stix (Stanford Mtizwa), so it’s going to be exciting.
“We play a passing game that is attractive to the fans, so I think this game is a good season opener.” While Bullets finished 13th last season, just three points above the relegation zone, Rhinos were safe in ninth.
Herentals, who finished eighth and reached the Chibuku Super Cup final, begin their 2023 campaign at Triangle today.
The Students did not do much business on the market, as they only signed one new player — Blessing Phiri from Rhinos.
Stanley Murove is back at Herentals from a loan spell with Rhinos, while defender Joseph Chitavare was promoted from Herentals Under-20 side.
Roving right-back Wilmore Chimbetu is now on loan at DeMbare, while forward Denzel Chimwemwe has relocated to the United Kingdom.
“The opening match at Gibbo is a big test for the team. It gives us a measure of where we are ahead of the 2023 season.
“It is my wish to have a positive result to boost our confidence,” said Herentals coach Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva.
Triangle begin life without skipper Donald Ngoma and winger Gerald Bhero, who both moved to Manica Diamonds.
In terms of activity on the market, Manica Diamonds can only compete with the likes of Dynamos, as Jairos Tapera bought nine players.
Veteran left-back Farai Banda (Black Rhinos), Fortune Binzi (Yadah), Panashe Mutasa (Tenax), Tawanda Chisi (Triangle), Trevor Mavhunga (Dynamos), Brett Amidu (Chicken Inn) and Ralph Kawondera (Dynamos) are some of the new faces at the miners.
Bulawayo giants Highlanders will take another crack at the championship that has eluded them since 2006 with a home match against Darlington Dodo’s ZPC Kariba.
Bosso managed to retain star player Devine Mhindirira, wingback Godfrey Makaruse, as well as centre-backs Andrew Tandi and Peter Mudhuwa.
Ray Lunga, Rahman Kutsanzira, Stanley Ngala, Lynoth Chikuhwa, Washington Navaya and skipper Ariel Sibanda are also still at Bosso.
Yadah, who play new boys Green Fuel in the first of the double-header at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow, have lost a number of influential players, including Tanaka Shandirwa, who is now at Dynamos.
Their former coach, Genesis Mangombe, is now Herbert Maruwa’s assistant at DeMbare.
The Miracle Boys are now under the guidance of ex-Aces Youth Soccer Academy coach Expense Chitukutuku.
Green Fuel might be new in the PSL but their coach Lloyd Mutasa and a host of players, including skipper Obey Mwerahari, have vast Premiership experience.
The ex-Warriors duo of Eric Chipeta and Honest Moyo, Collins Dhuwa (Manica Diamonds), Bukhosi Sibanda (Highlanders), Xolisani Moyo (Manica Diamonds) and the former Bulawayo Chiefs pair of keeper David Bizabani and MacClive Phiri have also found a new home in Chisumbanje.
Today: CAPS United v Manica Diamonds (NSS), Highlanders v ZPC Kariba (BF), Triangle v Herentals (Gibbo)
Tomorrow: Yadah v Green Fuel (NSS, 12pm); Cranborne Bullets v Black Rhinos (NSS, 3pm)
■ Twitter: @LangtonGuraz