HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Caf Confederations Cup representatives Harare City began their preparations for the African Safari at Gwanzura Stadium yesterday with coach Taurai Mangwiro making known their intentions to make an impact in the tournament. By Godknows Matarutse
Apart from those in camp with the national team, almost all the players registered for the Confederations Cup squad reported for the team’s first training session where the emphasis was on fitness conditioning of the players.
Newsboys Blessing Moyo, Ronald Chitiyo, Raphael Manuvire and Edwin Madhananga, along with Francesco Zekumbawire and William Manondo are in camp with the national team for the 2016 African Nations Championship (Chan) preparations and could not join their teammates.
Another new signing defender Jimmy Tigere, who arrived from Triangle, joined his new teammates for the first time while striker Kudakwashe Kumwala and midfielder Benson Maglasi skipped yesterday’s training after being excused to sort out personal issues.
It will be the first time that the Sunshine Boys are competing in Africa after beating Dynamos 2-1 in the Chibuku Super Cup final.
Their opponents — AS Adema — are however, not new to African football having participated in both the Caf Champions League and the Caf Confederations Cup.
“We have re-grouped today (yesterday) ahead of the 2016 season and we started with a meeting where we were spelling out what we want to achieve this year,” Mangwiro said.
“Our emphasis is to improve on last year’s performance and also making an impact in Africa. We began with fitness tests with the help of Jerry (Maguranyanga) and we hope to follow it up in the five weeks of our preparations.
“Benson and Kuda are not here, they were attending to some personal pressing issues and they could be able to join us tomorrow. We also have six players with the national team, who include four new signings, but the rest of the guys are here.
Mangwiro said those who are with the national team will not have a negative impact on his team’s preparations.
“The good thing is that these players will be active and their level of fitness will be probably ahead of the rest of the guys. Of course, you would want to have everyone around you but we prioritise serving the nation,” added Mangwiro.
The former CAPS United coach said they are hoping to secure friendlies before their preliminary first leg encounter against AS Adema of Madagascar.
“We intend to play at least two competitive friendlies before we embark in Africa to work on combinations, among other things,” Mangwiro said.
“We are still working on which teams to play and we are already in discussions with Chicken Inn. Remember they are also playing in the Champions League. So a friendly against them will benefit both teams.
“We don’t want to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure but we would want to make an impact in that competition. We are not there to make the numbers, if we can go far the better for us although there are no specific targets.”
The Sunshine Boys were drawn against AS Adema of Madagascar and will kick off their campaign with a home tie on the weekend of February 12-14. City will then travel to Antananarivo on the weekend of February 26-28.
If Taurai Mangwiro’s side get past AS Adema, they will secure a date against Zambian side Zanaco in the first round in March.
Harare City full Squad: Dube Tafadzwa, Maxwell Nyamupanedengu, Chimutimunzeve Honey, Chimwemwe Gilroy, Chipangura Jerry, Chitiyo Ronald, Chiveya Arnold, Dickson Crispen, Diro Nyenye Munyaradzi, Jam James, Kumwala Kudakwashe, Madhananga Edwin, Maglasi Benson, Manondo William, Manuvire Raphael, Moyo Blessing, Munditi Tatenda, Murimba Agrippa, Muyambo Learnmore, Ndlovu Themba, Ruzvidzo Tanaka, Samanja Tendai, Tigere Jimmy, Uchena Raymond, Vengesai Martin, Zekumbawire Francisco
If they are to get past the Zambians, City will play either Malian side AS Bakaridjan, AS Kaloum Star of Guinea or Stade Gabesien of Tunisia in the final qualifying round before the group stages of the second tier African inter-club competition.