SOCCER: Bulaji relishes DeMbare challenge…as club sweats over contracts

Kelvin Bulaji

Kelvin Bulaji

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AFTER a traumatic two-year period that saw him almost quitting the game prematurely, Dynamos’ newboy Kelvin Kenneth Bulaji feels the league champions can finally offer him a “perfect platform” to show what he is made of.

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The highly-rated 23-year-old striker, who has already been exposed to European football, thanks to trial stints in France and Poland, is one of the new arrivals at DeMbare, who have announced a shift in policy that favours young talent over the old horses.

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DeMbare have already sealed the signatures of rising 21-year-old utility player Godknows “Zizou” Murwira, roving right-back Obey Mwerahari (24), bustling striker Dominic Chungwa (26), while sources close to the champions’ boardroom reveal that Dynamos are also frantically chasing Soccer Star of the Year finalist and Hwange starlet Evans Rusike, who turns 24 in June.

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DeMbare’s shift in policy has also coincided with the club’s appointment of a high-powered technical team led by CAF Champions League semi-finals appearing coach David “Yogi” Mandigora, who is deputised by Biggie Zuze and Tonderayi Ndiraya — both renowned for their penchant for young talent.

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Mandigora took over the reins from the record-making Kallisto Pasuwa who is taking a sabbatical from football to concentrate on enhancing his coaching qualifications.

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It is this “youth revolution” that excites Bulaji, whose evident talent has not been given a chance to blossom. He wants to quickly settle down and forget about the “stress” he endured at Caps United last season. Bulaji also wants to quickly forget about that black chapter in his promising soccer career when a protracted ownership wrangle with his former manager Wieslaw Grabowski almost stalled his career until ZIFA intervened and declared him a free agent in April last year.

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But as it turns out, Bulaji still has unfinished business with the financially dogged Caps United, as The Sunday Mail has discovered that the player, through the facilitation of the Football Union of Zimbabwe, is taking Makepekepe to the Labour Court over outstanding unpaid signing on fees, wages and winning bonuses amounting to 300.

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“My former teammates at Caps will tell you how we suffered at that club, going for months without salaries, fighting battles with our landlords over unpaid rentals and failing to put food on the table for our families. All I yearned for was to join a club where I could express my talent without hindrance from off-the-field squabbles and I think Dynamos suit that bill.

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“They are the undisputed champions of local football and it is almost every local player’s wish to don their blue and white strip. It is an honour and I hope I will not disappoint,” said Bulaji, who is now managed by Norbert Chawira.

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His life has changed in the few months he has joined DeMbare; he now drives a neat VW Polo, has acquired a residential stand and says he can guarantee his wife Priscilla Mudzimande a decent life — all from the proceeds of his signing on fee.

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With his well-being now catered for, the onus is now on Bulaji to prove his worth and the former Oriel Boys’ High student is well aware of the huge demands that lie ahead of him.

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“A striker is measured by the number of goals he scores; so settling early will be key to my success. I know DeMbare fans are so used to success that they are always asking for more; it is very difficult to win their hearts, but I will try my best.

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“It will be difficult, especially the first games, but I will try my best kuti vandifarire, for someone who is joining from their rivals Caps United; I just have to prove my worth. But I am relishing the challenge, it is a good one for my career advancement because playing for DeMbare gives one the exposure, the chance to get scouted by foreign clubs.

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“I am also excited by the club’s move to introduce young blood; this is good for the development of the game. I hope I will finally lift my first league title with DeMbare at the end of the year,” said Bulaji, a product of Grabowski’s famed DT Africa that is credited for producing talented players like Norman Mapeza, Gift Muzadzi , Shingi Kawondera and Musareka Jenitala, to name just a few.

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Dynamos president Kenny Mubaiwa, whose executive has given new coach Mandigora a 30-point target in the first half of the 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season, is confident the combination of youth and experience will prolong his club’s dominance on the local scene.

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DeMbare’s new stance has thrown into doubt the continued stay of senior players like Murape Murape, Thomas Magorimbo, Tawanda Muparati, Patrick Khumbula, Sydney Linyama and Clive Kawinga.

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“We have put in place what we believe is a respectable technical team. A lot has been said about the DeMbare executive and the duty is ours to set the record straight.

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“We are looking into the future, hence the shift towards the younger players, but that is not to say the veterans will not be useful; we want the club to sustain its stay at the top and we believe this blend will augur well,” said Mubaiwa.

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Among the veteran players who have so far extended their stay at DeMbare are Soccer Star of the Year finalist Stephen Alimenda and consistent left back Ocean Mushure.

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Central midfielder Devon Chafa has begun talks with the club as confirmed by his manager Gibson Mahachi, but strikers Roderick Mutuma and Simba Sithole are yet to be pinned down.

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. . . as club sweats over contracts