CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions Dynamos will start the defence of their league title with an easy home fixture against Buffaloes when the new season finally kicks off next week.
BY WELLINGTON TONI
March 7 has been set as the provisional starting date for the league, although it is now likely that it will now begin the following weekend due to the Bob91 Super Cup final that will feature Dynamos and Caps United/Highlanders.
The fixtures were released by the PSL yesterday ahead of this Sunday’s annual general meeting where the home grounds for teams, the cup competitions and rules and regulations will be confirmed by the 16 members of the Board of Governors.
Dynamos won the league title four times in a row under Kalisto Pasuwa, who left at the end of last season and are starting new life under returning coach David Mandigora.
The matches of the season will arrive as early as Week Four when Dynamos and Caps United clash in the Harare Derby, Week 7 will feature Highlanders and Caps United, Dynamos and FC Platinum will face each other in Week 9, while Week 14 will see the biggest of them all — Dynamos and Highlanders.
Playing, and possibly winning, their first match at home, will give Mandigora a breath of fresh air after seeing his charges go down 6-5 on penalties to Harare rivals Caps United in last Sunday’s Sino-Zim Cement Cup final.
Last season’s runners-up ZPC Kariba will host Highlanders in what will be new Bosso coach Bongani Mafu’s tough start in the PSL after taking over the reins from Mark Mathe at the end of last season.
Highlanders will become the first team to play at the renovated Nyamhunga Stadium in Kariba after ZPC spent the whole of 2014 playing at Gwanzura in Harare after failing to complete their home ground.
That, though is still subject to confirmation from this weekend’s AGM.
Caps United, who finished third in 2014, will be at Ascot Stadium on the opening day against newly-promoted Whahwa Prison.
FC Platinum, winners of the Chibuku Super Cup, Zimbabwe’s only representatives in Africa and fourth finishers last season, will also be looking for a flying start to their league campaign under Norman Mapeza when they host newly-promoted Dongo Sawmills at Mandava Stadium.
Mapeza’s team is playing in the Caf Confederation Cup and is hosting Sofapaka of Kenya in the preliminary round second leg at Mandava tomorrow, giving them a head start to the 2015 campaign.
Another new team, Tsholotsho Football Club, are likely to get a baptism of fire when they travel to Harare City on Day One.
Harare City have been rebuilding heavily under new coach Taurai Mangwiro who has brought in Tafadzwa Dube, Themba Ndlovu and Tendai Samanja, while retaining the likes of Francesco Zekumbawira and Osborne Mukuradare.
In the other opening week fixtures, Kelvin Kaindu’s Triangle have a home date against Hwange, Chicken Inn host Flame Lily, while How Mine have a date against Chapungu.
Sunday’s AGM will approve the stadiums which will be used this season with Bulawayo’s Ascot and Mutare’s Sakubva in danger of missing out due to dilapidation.
Bulawayo’s stadiums, Barbourfields, Luveve and White City, are in good shape following renovations for last December’s Africa Union Sports Council Region Five Games, while Harare has the traditional Rufaro, Gwanzura and the National Sports Stadium.
Highlanders use Barbourfields, How Mine and Chicken Inn share Luveve, while Tsholotsho will be based ay White City.
Platinum will use Mandava, while Dongo are renovating Vhengere Stadium in Rusape.
Dynamos and Harare City will use Rufaro with Caps United staying at NSS, while Flame Lily will be at Gwanzura.
The meeting will also confirm the Chibuku Super Cup and the top-eight competition, sponsored by NetOne under their One Wallet brand, while the league is also waiting for confirmation from Mbada Diamonds after their competition was shelved last season.