THE southern region division one soccer season kicks off this weekend against the background of “baptisms of fire” experienced by previous winners who are failing to stand the heat in the premie
Previous winners Railstars and Kwekwe Cables found the going tough when the 2004 season kicked off last weekend.
Railstars were hammered 0-4 by visiting Shabanie at Luveve Stadium last Saturday while premiership debutantes Cables lost 0-3 at home to Eiffel Flats. If last week’s performance is anything to go by, teams from the southern region’s division are doomed to fail.
Newcomers in the southern region division one are Matshiyakwakhiwe of Lower Gweru, Soppers of Victoria Falls, ZRP Gwanda, East Rovers of Bulawayo’s Pumula high-density suburb and Piggot Maskew.
Former PSL outfit Tongogara who lived under the shadows of Masvingo United and Buymore United over the past season have moved from the eastern region to the southern region. But it is not going to be easy in this season’s contest as demoted Chapungu retained their key players whose signatures were being chased by top clubs.
Gweru-based Chapungu’s players are likely to illuminate the less-fashionable division one league. These include striker Phillip Marufu whose services were sought by Zimbabwe’s Africa Champions League representatives AmaZulu.
Premiership debutants Cables were after the signature of Clement Mugari.
Promising defender Brian Zingwe and Tapuwa Khumbuyani are some of the players expected to make an impression.
But pundits who follow division one soccer say although Chapungu stand a chance to return to top flight soccer, others such as Gweru-based Zimall, Chrome Stars of Kwekwe and Border strikers from Beitbridge cannot be written off.
AmaZulu’s sister club Thorngrove can also not be written off.
Games for the northern region’s division one season have already begun with punters putting their money on Douglas Warriors, Monomotapa, Lloyd Mutasa-led Flame Lily and former premiership outfit Kambuzuma.
Unicem vs Thorngrove – Colleen Bawn (Gwanda)
East Rovers vs Pigott Maskew – White City (Bulawayo) Matshiya vs Chrome Stars – Mkoba Stadium (Gweru)
Prison Training Depot vs ZPC Hwange – White City Border Strikers vs Chapungu – Dulibadzimu (Beitbridge)
Gokwe United vs Soppers – Gokwe
How Mine vs Zesa Munyati – How Mine
Zimall vs Mandava – Mkoba
Shangani vs ZRP Gwanda – Shangani
Tongongara vs Zimasco – Tongogara.