Southern Region Premiership football clubs have declared that they will not be pushovers as the 2012 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) begins across the country tomorrow.
Highlanders were the last Southern Region team to win the league title in 2006.
The PSL now has seven clubs representing the region, comprising Bosso, last year’s runners-up FC Platinum, Hwange, Chicken Inn, Shabanie Mine and newcomers Quelaton and Hardbody.
Highlanders, Chicken Inn and Quelaton are from Bulawayo, FC Platinum and Shabanie Mine from Zvishavane, Chipangano from the coal-mining town of Hwange while Hardbody is from Gweru.
Hwange host Quelaton at the Colliery tomorrow in the two clubs’ first encounter. The coalminers head coach Nation Dube yesterday said they were hoping for an exciting season.
“We are well prepared for the season and our preparations are now at an advanced stage. Our main aim is to improve from last year’s performance. We are looking at finishing in the top three. But we will get a clearer picture after we play our first league game,” he said.
Dube said the coming-in of new players and returnee Farai Vimisayi would boost the club’s cause.
“All the players need to work hard. Competition will be very stiff as new players will also be fighting for a place in the team. That will push our game a level higher,” he said.
Quelaton coach Thulani Sibanda says they want to make a mark in the league despite this being their maiden appearance.
“We are prepared for Sunday’s game. We want to put up a different show because we do not want to be relegated even though it will be our first year in the league. We want to make ourselves known by playing well,” he said.
The new boys acquired the services of Fortune Nyambosi and Marshall Machazane to boost their squad.
After taking over from Philani Ncube towards the end of last season, former Warriors striker Adam Ndlovu says he is anticipating an exciting season.
“We are ready for the league and the boys are raring to go. We want to improve from where we left last season, but it is not going to be easy though. We just want to do well,” said Ndlovu.
FC Platinum secretary-general Phil Muvengwa says they are expecting to improve from last year, an indication they want to win the league after putting up a strong challenge in the league before they eventually surrendered it to DeMbare.
“We want to do better than last year. We have been preparing for the league and the Champions League and the Bob 88 Super Cup have also assisted the coaches in assessing the new players. The coming-in of new players will contribute in a bigger way,” he said.
Shabanie Mine will also be hoping to improve from last year’s performance after they survived relegation on the last day.
Coach Luke Masomere said: “We are expecting an improvement from last year’s performance. We are geared up for the league and we expect an improvement from the players. I will not say whether we will win the league or not.”
On their season opener against Caps United, Masomere said: “I tip Caps United to win the league because they are a very strong side with good players. But they are not going to beat Shabanie Mine.” All eyes will also be on Bosso who are now under former player and Zambian Kelvin Kaindu.
“The season opening games will be very important to us. The league will be very competitive because every team is competing for the league title and the race starts here. But we will take each game as it comes,” said Kaindu.
Hardbody assistant coach Brighton Muchambo said they would work hard to ensure that their stay in the top flight league would not be short-lived.
“We are looking forward to our first game as we want to win. We are also looking forward to the season. Our aim is to stay in the Premiership and to ensure that we are not relegated. We are new in the league, but football is the same; any team can win, lose or draw,” he said.
They travel to Harare to play champions Dynamos on Sunday at Rufaro.