Players have been moving from one club to the other in search of greener pastures. The usual favourites Dynamos, Highlanders, Caps United and FC Platinum will certainly be chasing the coveted league crown and other silverware to add to their cupboards, yet for the newly promoted sides survival is the name of the game.
There is also a number of teams that have no serious league ambitions, for whom a trophy in the cabinet and a top eight finish would suffice — teams like Gunners, Hwange and Monomotapa.
Caps United have bought and sold well; they will parade new players, a new coaching set-up led by manager Sean Connor with Lloyd Chitembwe retaining the post of coach in a European-style system, aided by a renewed dynamism to succeed.
The consequence of last term’s sixth place finish on the log was a spending spree which saw the four-time champions striker Darryl Nyandoro and midfielder Chris Samakweri, who both failed to make it at DR Congo outfit TP Mazembe, sign up with the Harare giants.
Frontman Rahman Kutsanzira also dumped Highlanders in search of greener pastures at Caps, as did Conrad Whitby from Motor Action.
The players have all been training with caps since the start of pre-season training and United feel they are ready to claim the crown they last won in 2005.
Connor wants his team to be the vanguard of football entertainment, and after so many changes a lot will be expected of the “Green Machine”.
On the other hand champions Dynamos, despite losing some of their stars like striker Cuthbert Malajila to South Africa, will still fancy their chance of retaining the title, having acquired Takesure Chinyama as a replacement.
The pre-season has not been without problems for one of Zimbabwe’s glamour teams, with injuries wreaking havoc to preparations, as did player strikes. But DeMbare seem to have regrouped and are ready for the challenge.
The likes of Martin Vengesai and Denver Mukamba — who were key to last season’s success — are ready to explode once again, but Achiford Gutu will be sorely missed.
Dynamos coach Calisto Pasuwa knows the jury is still out on whether he is the best man to lead the team despite bossing the club to a successful league run-in.
Highlanders have in recent years failed to perform to expectations. Given their dominance in previous years, they would be aiming for nothing less than another Premier League crown, yet their lack of transfer activity could dash their ambitions. They lost two of their better players last term after Gilbert Banda, a relic from their glory days, signed for FC Platinum to join a long list of other players to have taken the same route. Finances have dwindled at the club and the team has to rely on its youth policy.
FC Platinum, armed with a strong financial backing, are title contenders, having taken the topflight by storm last term when they scaled the log for long periods, only to surrender and lose out to Dynamos in the run in. As if they had not spent enough last season, they captured Allen Gahadzikwa who inspired Motor Action. The midfielder looks to have already fitted well into the empire that the platinum miners are building. They have such good a squad that coach Rahman Gumbo has quality even on the bench.
Among the players that have been released by FC Platinum is attacker Norman Maroto who is now trying his luck at Dynamos.
Shabanie Mine’s stay in the Premier league almost came to an end last term and survival was only confirmed on the last day. They have also raided the transfer market, but could only buy from Division One teams due to limited finances.
Gweru’s Zim Alloys suffered the most, losing key players to Luke Masomere’s side which also benefitted from Platinum’s surplus players.
Masomere can make good use of these players to mould a squad that can achieve his target, a top-eight finish.
Black Mambas just survived the chop last term, but with little spending they will have to work harder than before.
Newcomers Quelaton might have been flattered by their pre-season win over Highlanders. They should not be fooled that such results will be easy to repeat. Their task is survival; as is that of for Harare City, DSTV, Hardbody and Triple B.
The four teams are locked in boardroom squabbles that have delayed their promotion into the top league. These problems have affected the way the respective teams prepared for the new season. All four have not significantly bought players with Premier League experience.