BY MICHAEL KARIATI
A NUMBER Castle Lager Premier Soccer League coaches seem a frustrated lot and desperate for the resumption of football activity in the country seven months after everything came to a standstill following the outbreak of Covid-19.
Zimbabwe, whose league traditionally ends in November or December, is one of the few countries that had not started its local competition when the pandemic hit the country in March.
With lockdown measures in place, most league coaches have had to monitor and train their players virtually so that they remain in shape for a swift restart.
But a restart would possibly mean that teams will have to start preseason all over again for about six weeks before they are ready
But coaches claim their players are ready for battle and are just waiting for Zifa and the government to strike a chord as to when the game would once again take to the fields.
Zifa and the government have agreed in principle for football to return, but that is subject to the national football federation coming up with a competition format that is acceptable to the government.
Triangle coach Taurai Mangwiro (pictured) says although the decision to bring back the game took them by surprise, they are ready for action.
“The decision took us by surprise, but we are ready. All our players are here and they have been following the training programmes we laid down during lockdown. We are just waiting for the games to begin,” said Mangwiro.
Triangle finished seventh last season in a year in which they had extra responsibilities as Zimbabwe’s representatives in the CAF Confederation Cup and Mangwiro is looking forward to a better show.
“We want to do better than our seventh placing last season. We want to finish in the top four or even to win the league championship itself and to compete again in Africa,” said Mangwiro.
Herentals coach Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva said being football people they are ready to play any day and any time when asked to.
“We have been preparing at different places. As football people, we are prepared to play any time we are asked to, even if it means tomorrow. We should be able to play under a situation that is there,” said Mutiwekuziva.
Mutiwekuziva said although they were not expecting an immediate return of football, they believe they have equal chances of winning the championship just like any other team in the Premiership.
“Everyone was affected by Covid-19 and I think we have an equal chance of winning the league title. What remains is for us to field a team that would be competitive,” said Mutiwekuziva.
Black Rhinos coach Herbert Marowa says as soldiers they are ready to do battle anytime they are called for duty. He said they were making a follow-up on the training schedule they gave to their players and are satisfied with the players’ fitness levels.
“Our players were training three days a week and on the fourth day, we followed up on what they were doing. We are happy with their fitness levels should the games begin any time,” said Marowa.
Zifa are understood to be in favour of a mini league stage competition in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Zvishavane, with the top teams meeting in a knockout section to decide the Zimbabwean football champion.
Interestingly, most, if not all, the clubs in the Premiership had gone shopping before the start of the football season was called off following the advent of Covid-19.
CAPS United and Dynamos were the biggest spenders during the transfer period with the Green Machine acquiring 21 new players and Dynamos 14.
Although they did not have much time together, Makepekepe coach Darlington Dodo says they also devised a training schedule for all their players during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
CAPS United want to banish the memories of last season when the league title was taken away right from under their noses by FC Platinum in the last two matches the campaign.
The question is: Will the new format stop FC Platinum from sweeping all that stand before them as was the case in the past three years in which they have won the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League trophy?