BANTU Rovers, the team that acquired the Premiership franchise of Mutare side Eastern Lions, is set to launch tomorrow bringing to two the number of Bulawayo clubs in the CBZ Premier Soccer League.
Bantu owner Methembe Ndlovu â€” a former Highlanders player and later coach â€” pipped to the franchise several other bidders who included the son of flashy Harare businessman Phillip Chiyangwa. Â
The club adds its name to the list of teams hailing from the southern region, which includes former Zimbabwe champions Highlanders, Gwanda-based Sundowns and coalminers and PSL returnees Hwange.
Bantuâ€™s communication director Londani Moyo this week told IndependentSport that the launch would be at a city hotel.
â€œAll the modalities are in place and we are ready for the launch,â€ Moyo said. â€œWe are now waiting for Saturday to reveal what we have got.â€
At the launch, the team will parade all itsÂ players including new signings, the management structure, sponsors and coach.
Moyo could not be drawn into revealing the name of the coach but information at hand suggests Ndlovu himself will hold fort until a suitable gaffer is recruited.
In his maiden season as coach in Zimbabwe after returning home from the US where he received his apprenticeship, Ndlovu led Highlanders to the league championship in 2006. He was fired mid-season last year due to poor results.
He was promoted to the national team as assistant coach but was later demoted to national Under 20 team coach.
On the playersâ€™ side, it is understood Bantuâ€™s biggest acquisition is Highlanders goalkeeper Washington Arubi.
The Mutare-born goalkeeper had been linked with a move to PSL champions Monomotapa and Dynamos. But after an unsuccessful trial stint in Finland recently, he is destined for Rovers.
Rovers have also brought on board Lincoln Siwela and Nhlanhla Dube from Highlanders alongside Ocean Mpofu from relegated Lancashire Steel.
Player movements to other Bulawayo teams from Highlanders have in the past createdÂ tension between the players and Bosso fans.
Moyo tried to play down the issue saying his team will always maintain a â€œvery cordial relationshipâ€ with Highlanders.
Instead, Moyo said fans in Bulawayo and around the country should expect a glorious derby between the two.
â€œOn the field of play, there will be war against Highlanders but we will maintain a very cordial relationship out of the field of play. Fans should expect a Milan-like derby in Bulawayo in the next few months,â€ he said.
Moyo said the team is ready for the PSL and is in the process of organising friendly matches to test its strength.
â€œThe players are ready, the management is ready, and everyone involved with the team is rearing to go. We are going to play one of the big teams from the PSL on Sunday, the day after the launch, to test our teamâ€™s character and to give our fans a taste of what Bantu Rovers is all about.
“We had problems last month when we failed to play a friendly match against Plumtree FC owing to lack of a suitable venue but things are going according to plan now,â€ said Moyo.
BY HENRY MHARA