BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
It might just be the first round of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League matches, but there are already signs that this year’s edition will see stiffer competition for the title compared to last year.
Harare giants Caps United are starting to see the benefits of their investment after a busy transfer season.
They captured, among others, the likes of former Highlanders forward Gabriel Nyoni — one of the speediest forwards on the domestic soccer scene, former Black Rhinos forward Blessing Sarupinda, while pace winger Phineas Bhamusi was also recalled after a largely successful campaign with Triangle.
As observed on Sunday against premiership newboys Manica Diamonds, the Green Machine looked well-oiled and that they overcame the vastly experienced side 2-0 demonstrates the championship spirit in this team. They look to be a side that will be difficult to beat this term.
Coach Lloyd Chitembwe spoke glowingly about the new signings and described Sarupinda as destined for greater heights.
Their big test comes on Sunday when they will be hosted by Highlanders at Barbourfields.
City rivals Dynamos also provided a convincing case of their credentials with a hard fought 2-0 victory over debutantes Mushowani Stars.
New signing Ngandu Mangala scored in both encounters and that he netted a brace against Mushowani Stars on Saturday underlines his potency. Mangala, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo before moving to Zimbabwe in 2010 where he has been playing in the lower divisions, was signed from Green Fuel.
Dynamos also signed several other players from the local scene as well as foreigners including two from Cameroon, Herve Mbega, Claude junior as well as Ghanaian Robert Sackey.
Of their foreign contingent, only Mangala featured at the weekend and they are yet to unleash the other weapons.
Unlike last term, they look like a side that will be engaged with battles at the upper echelons of the table.
Chicken Inn lived up to pre-season billing as one of the most formidable sides capable of reclaiming the championship from FC Platinum with a 3-1 thumping of ZPC Kariba. The 2015 champions have invested heavily in the squad and coach Joey Antipas appears to have a platform to build a squad that can conquer again. Clive Augusto, signed from Ngezi Platinum Stars, scored a brace with Simon Munawa weighing in with another goal to seal victory.
Defending champions FC Platinum also demonstrated their ambition with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Harare City at Rufaro on Friday. Although they have an advantage in that they have been playing in the Caf Champions League, while their rivals were off season, it can’t take away the fact that they have great ambition to win three championships in a row.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the scale, preliminary assessments point to Bulawayo Chiefs as serious relegation candidates after they were demolished 5-0 by Airforce side Chapungu in a largely one-sided match with Brighton Mugoni and Ian Nyoni scoring a brace each while Allen Tavarwisa also scored.
Newboys TelOne also showed that they will not be whipping boys as they displayed good football against Herentals, which won them many admirers.