BY HENRY MHARA
HARARE City coach Lloyd Chitembwe has heaped praise on his city rival coach Tonderai Ndiraya of Dynamos, saying he has assembled a much stronger squad, a feat they last achieved several years ago.
Chitembwe and Ndiraya work together in the Warriors set-up where they are assistants to coach Zdravko Logarušic.
Ndiraya’s Dynamos got the better of Harare City when the two teams met in a Chibuku Super Cup match on Saturday.
The match ended 1-0 with King Nadolo scoring the only goal of the match to ensure DeMbare strengthened their position on top of Group 1 with 11 points.
Harare City are joint third in the group with ZPC Kariba on six points after the conclusion of the first stage of round robin matches.
After the match, Chitembwe praised the good work that his fellow Warriors assistant is doing at Dynamos.
“They have a good group of players,” Chitembwe noted.
“Ndiraya has done well in the last 10 years. I am sure in recent times, Dynamos have never had a group of players like the one they currently have. And I am sure with Ndiraya, they are on the right path.”
Ndiraya has been rebuilding Dynamos and from the 20 players who were on the matchday squad against Harare City, only Godknows Murwira, Emmanuel Jalayi, Jarrison Selemani and Munyaradzi Mawadza were on the club’s books when he arrived.
Despite his side lagging behind Dynamos by five points, Chitembwe is hopeful that they can still snatch one of the two top spots in the group to qualify to the quarterfinals of the Chibuku Super Cup.
The first stage of the round-robin matches reached the half stage at the weekend and teams will meet again in the reverse fixtures.
“It’s still game on, no team has won the group yet. Dynamos are leading the group, but Caps United are still in there and so are Harare City and ZPC Kariba. The fact that they are leading does not put them in position where we can declare them winners although they are doing well at the moment,” Chitembwe said.
Caps are second in the group with seven points, while Yadah are on five points. Herentals anchor the group with two points.
Chitembwe is also happy with his squad which he said was assembled on a shoe-string budget.
“It didn’t cost us even $5 000 to assemble this team, so looking from that angle, I can say we have done well. The average age of my squad is 24. We have lost so many players,” he said.
City lost key players in the past year, including Ishmael Wadi, Munyaradzi Dironyenye, Gareth Madhake, Thomas Chideu and Martin Vengesai.
“So trying to come up with a team after losing players of that calibre is not easy. But so far so good, I am happy that we have managed to bring back the competitiveness within the group. What is important is to improve certain team aspects that can make it a competitive squad in terms of winning things,” Chitembwe added.
It’s not clear when the second stage of the Chibuku Super Cup matches, which were scheduled this week, will commence after government banned indefinitely all gatherings, including sporting activities, as a way of containing rising COVID-19 cases in the country.
- Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara