HOW MINE head coach Luke Masomere has tipped Norman Mapeza’s FC Platinum to lift the 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship, saying the Zvishavane-based outfit have the strongest and most consistent squad to take the honours this year.
Masomere, with the team to beat in 2015, yesterday said his squad was now complete, dismissing reports that 2014 soccer star of the year Dennis Dauda was on his way to the gold miners.
He spoke to Southern Eye Sport after How Mine’s morning training session at the mine.
“I tip Platinum to win the title this year,” he said.
“They are on course to lift the championship this year. Platinum have had a consistent squad in the last three years only bringing in about three players this year.
“The big clubs — Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United — will only use their names to lure players and have the big support base, but Platinum will win the league. They have managed to keep the same team.”
Turning to his team, the self-proclaimed doctor of Zimbabwean football played down their chances.
“I have brought in nine players and the squad looks strong on paper, but it’s not,” he said.
“It is a completely new team and realistically we are not aiming very high. We just want to improve from our last year’s performance. We were in the top eight last season and this year if we get into the top seven it will be good for us.”
How Mine finished last season on position eight with 40 points while Platinum, after bringing on board former Warriors gaffer Mapeza to replace Lloyd Mutasa, finished the season on the fourth spot, just six points behind champions Dynamos.
The only country’s representatives in the African Safari this year, FC Platinum, travel to Kenya where they will take on Sofapaka in the preliminary round first leg of the Orange Caf Confederation Cup.
How Mine have snatched some of the top players in the league, grabbing Dynamos’ Tawanda Muparati and Devon Chafa, ZPC’s veteran striker Limited Chikafa, Highlanders and 2014 Castle Lager golden boot award winner Charles Sibanda and goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya.
Also in their ranks are former Caps United skipper Tapiwa Kumbuyani and striker Benjamin Marere, Nefitara Ndale from Masvingo United and Buffaloes’ Moses Gutu.
Masomere said he had only two slots open until the Zifa transfer window period closes on condition that midfielders Louis Matawu and Fungai Chirinda don’t recover from nagging injuries.
“I don’t throw away players because they are injured, but will continue to monitor them,” he said.
“If they don’t recover, then I have two slots open. We are now working on fitness and I can say we are on 35%. In the next three weeks, we will be on 60% to 70% which is normal working standard with the season about to start.”
Some of the players that Masomere retained from last year’s squad are joint 2014 golden boot award winner Kudakwashe Musharu, Menard Mupera, Gilbert Banda, Wonder Sithole, Timothy January, Thembani Masuku, Chirinda, Matawu and goalkeepers Donovan Bernard and Nonjabulo Notice Dube.
How Mine parted ways with Caleb Masocha, Mandlenkosi Sibanda, Xolisani Moyo, Edmore Muzanenhamo, Warren Dube, George Magariro and goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura.