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Players savour return of football

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BY HENRY MHARA

DYNAMOS attacker King Nadolo and Highlanders defender Peter Muduhwa have both expressed delight at the return of domestic football and are looking forward to getting to play in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) soon.

Sunday’s Independence Trophy final between Dynamos and Highlanders marked the return of domestic football after a year’s hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Harare giants won the match 2-0, thanks to a long range strike by the club’s new signing Trevor Mavhunga and a Muduhwa own goal.

Nadolo, who signed for Dynamos last year, but could not play after the season was suspended by the government as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19, admits he is savouring every moment of being back on the training ground and doing the “only thing we really know”.

“It feels great to be playing football again. Playing this game is all that we really know, so we are really happy to come back to our jobs. We had become jobless,” Nadolo told NewsDay Sport soon after the final whistle of the Independence Day match at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.

Nadolo said beating their rivals in the season curtain-raiser will give them confidence going into the league proper, which will be played in a mini-tournament format this year.

The format will see the 18 teams placed in four groups of the competition to be hosted in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Zvishavane. The group leaders will play a knockout to determine the winner.

“I’m happy that we managed to beat Highlanders. It was a tough match after such a long lay-off. It was the first game of the season and beating our biggest rival gives us a good feeling. We will get a lot of confidence from this. There are also a lot of positives we can take from this game. Given that we were unfit, but managed to beat Highlanders means we are in the right direction. If we manage to get our fitness levels right, we can do better,” he said.

Muduhwa said although they lost the Independence Trophy final, the most important thing was for the players to return to action once again.

“It’s unfortunate that we lost the match because we really wanted to win. But playing football again was the ultimate victory for the players. It’s a relief for the players because it has been too long without doing what we love the most,” Muduhwa said.

Muduhwa and Nadolo were part of the privileged few who played competitive football in January when they featured for the Warriors at the African Nations Championships.

“We played a bit with the national team, but that was enough. It’s not the same,” Muduhwa said. “We want to play every week, so we are really looking forward to the start of the new season.”

The Premier Soccer League wants the league to start during the second week of May if clubs meet COVID-19 safety protocols set out by government.

The safety plan outlines procedures to ensure that matches and fields do not become a breeding ground for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 protocols include regular testing of players and officials, while the matches will be played behind closed doors.

PSL is expected to hold its annual general meeting on May 1 which will pave the way for the return of the league a fortnight later.

  • Follow Henry on Twitter @ henrymhara

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