The promotion of Mutare-based army side Buffaloes into the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League from the Eastern Region Division One League last week came as a relief to football followers in the city.
In the past two seasons they watched their team agonisingly pipped to the top spot by FC Victoria and Masvingo United respectively.
Consistency was the major driving force for the soldiers as they struck a 14-match winning streak that enabled them to clinch the Premiership ticket with four matches to go. They are yet to taste defeat in 24 matches.
After Highway were relegated in 2008 from the Premier Soccer League and a year before Eastern Lions had sold their franchise to Bantu Rovers in Bulawayo leaving Mutare football fans to bite the dust again, it meant that Mutare had no resident team in the first tier league for three years.
Premiership side Shooting Stars used Sakubva Stadium in June and July, but fans shunned the Harare-based team for Buffaloes as they bore grudges against Motor Action and Monomotapa who abandoned them after they had assured them of a long stay in Mutare.
Buffaloes head coach Shadreck Magurasave said he was looking forward to preserving their Premiership status.
“I will prefer to give the current squad first preference next year because it is their project, it is for them to perform well because next year will be looking forward to preserving our Premiership status than anything else because the players just need to adjust.
“But I believe there is not too much difference in the type of play from Division One, but I am very sure that we are going to stamp our authority in the coming season.
“We will be bringing three midfielders and two strikers to improve the depth of the team,” he said.
Magurasave added that the business community should now come to assist them to cater for some of their expenses.
“I encourage sponsors to come on board to help us with other expenses and also to help the welfare of the players because this also motivates the players,” he added.
His assistant Sicho Masachi added that the young guys who have never played in the Premiership were happy as they were looking forward to marketing themselves.
“Some of the boys who have never played in the Premier League can’t just wait for the day as they are looking forward to rubbing shoulders with giants like Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United. They also see it as an opportunity to be recognised and perhaps to be called up for Zimbabwe national teams duty,” he said.
Buffaloes’ pillar of strength proved to be its defence as their as they conceded the fewest goals in the league. There is goalkeeper Chengetai Tandadzayi, Dananai Chinowawa, Kelvin Tembani and defensive midfielder Prosper Matambanadzo.
The army side joined Harare City and Quelaton from the Southern Region into the Premier Soccer while in the Central Region Division One League Hardbody and Tripple B are still in the race.