Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clubs are fretting over their star players as champions FC Platinum prepare to invade the market in search of talent that can strengthen their team ahead of their Caf Champions League participation next year.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
The Zvishavane side won their first league title since their promotion into the top-flight league last Saturday after edging Chapungu 2-0.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza told NewsDaySport that he would be meeting with the club hierarchy soon to discuss areas that need to be strengthened ahead of their participation in Africa’s richest football tournament.
Although Mapeza said one of their options would be to recall some of their players who have been on loan, the cash-rich side is expected to go on the market as they bid to make a mark in the African safari.
Their last appearance in the tournament was a big failure.
“We definitely need to beef up the team. We have to strengthen all the departments. We have some of our players who are on loan and we will consider bringing them back. I will be meeting with the executive soon to discuss the issue and see areas we need to beef up,” Mapeza said.
Some of their players who had been loaned to other clubs include Ishmael Wadi, who was playing for Bulawayo City, and exciting forward Nigel Papius, who featured for relegated Bantu Rovers.
FC Platinum might also bring back midfielder Cleophas Kapupurika, who has been starring for Harare giants Dynamos, among others.
However, the well-resourced side is likely to rob some clubs of their talents as they seek to strengthen their team.
Last season, the Zvishavane side had a busy pre-season in which they captured Hwange striker Gift Mbweti, Talent Chawapihwa from ZPC Kariba, Brett Amidu (Dynamos) and Agrippa Murimba (Mutare City).
In the second transfer window, they also brought in experience with Mkhokeli Dube, Ali Sadiki and Takesure Chinyama.
There are chances that some of the teams that contributed players on the Soccer Stars of the Year calendar could lose some of those players to FC Platinum because of the good working environment and the lure of playing in the prestigious Caf Champions League.
This will be the second time FC Platinum will be playing in the Caf Champions League after they failed to make it to the group stages in their maiden appearance in 2012 after falling to Al-Merreikh of Sudan.
In 2015 they played in the Caf Confederation Cup tournament, but their performance wasn’t any better.
Mapeza’s men bowed out in the first round despite edging Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the return leg played at Mandava.
Having suffered a 5-1 defeat in Tanzania, a 1-0 win in Harare meant they exited the tournament on a 5-2 aggregate loss.
They will, however, be aiming to improve from that performance this time around.
They will perhaps be looking to emulate Caps United, who defied the odds this year to reach the lucrative group stage of the tournament for the first time in their history under the guidance of Lloyd Chitembwe, in the process beating fancied five-time African champions TP Mazembe.
In the group stages they had a decent run where they beat giants, Zamalek of Egypt and USM Alger (Algeria) even though they failed to progress further.
With their experience on the continent, Caps United could be a source of talent for Mapeza as he seeks to fortify his squad.
Caps United, Dynamos and Highlanders have all been struggling to pay their players this season and stare the danger of losing some of their best talents.