Gunners new coach confident

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Gunners new coach George Madira has set his sights on returning to continental club football next season.

The 2009 Premier Soccer League champions represented the country in the Confederations of African Football (Caf) Champions League the following year, but crashed out in the second round at the hands of the mighty Al Ahly of Egypt.

Madira, who took over from Moses Chunga at the Mabvuku-based club, believes he has assembled a strong team that can challenge for a top three league finish, which would guarantee them continental football next year.

Gunners, known for their passion for youth, have retained the bulk of their young side from last season, and a number of the club juniors have been promoted into the senior side.

Big names that have joined Chando Kupisa include Young Warriors right-back Blessing Sande, formerly with Hwange, Felix Kutswatuka from Blue Ribbon and FC Platinums William Manondo while Gunners former player Tapiwa Mangezi, who spent last season at Caps United, has returned.

We have managed to retain virtually the same team from last season so I think there is continuity at the club. We only lost five players, but managed to replace them with some equally good players, said Madira.

Gunners lost the trio of Qadr Amini, Ali Sadiki and Mitchelle Katsvairo to FC Platinum while goalkeeper George Chigova and striker Ismael Lawe joined Dynamos and Motor Action respectively.

After a bad start to the season, we finished very strongly so I think we will carry on from where we left last season. We finished at position five, but with the squad I have we are looking at breaking into the top three.

We are eyeing a spot on the African safari next season. We have been there before and I think the experience we gained will come very hand, added Madira.

Three teams that finishes at the top of the log will participate in continental football. League champions and their runners- up are guaranteed a place in the Caf Champions League while the third-placed team plays in the Caf Confederation Cup.

Meanwhile, a number of Premier League teams have lined up friendly matches this weekend as the league season fast approaches.

The Castle Premier Soccer League is expected to kick off in three weeks time.

Defending champions Dynamos, who are preparing for their NetOne Charity Shield clash against Motor Action next weekend and a Caf Champions League match at the end of the month, have planned a double header.

They play Monomotapa at Rufaro Stadium today before engaging Gunners at Lafarge Stadium tomorrow.

Caps United, who seem to have renewed optimism judging from their acquisitions during the transfer window market, clash with Central Region Division One side Tripple B at Gwanzura Stadium this afternoon.

In Bulawayo, Highlanders host Shabanie Mine at Luveve Stadium today while Chicken Inn entertain relegated Masvingo United at Mucheke Stadium tomorrow.