Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
LAST yearâs ZIFA Northern Region Division One soccer league runners-up Gunners have begun their pre-season preparations with a number of new players joining the team on their second day of training yesterday at Lafarge.The former Premiership champions have indicated they are aiming for the championship this year and will leave no stone unturned as they seek to return to the top-flight league.
Earlier this year there were reports that the Harare-based side had tabled an offer to purchase newly promoted Premiership side Tsholotsho to make a quick return to the top-flight league.
But club president, Cuthbert Chitima, dismissed the reports as untrue and Gunners will be among the teams fighting for the Zifa Northern Region league title this season.
Gunners coach, Kudakwashe Masaraure, yesterday said this week they were concentrating on the new players that are training with them.
âWe started our preparations yesterday (Wednesday) and we are concentrating on the new comers while our old players work on their fitness and endurance.
âSo far we have so many players, around 45, but by Monday we should have a number that we think we need to work with before we trim them down to 35.
âWe will further trim down the team to 25 because last year we had so many players at the beginning of the season and you will see that we had difficulties in managing the team because we would try to accommodate everyone who would have come to training instead of just focusing on the players we needed for a particular game.
âAnd when the window period opened we called more players and we ended up having 40 players so there were too many players.Â So this year we want to avoid that and we will be off-loading from our old players as well. But we are also hoping to sign a few more players,â said Masaraure.
Gunners had some good moments last year leading the race at some point but they faltered when it mattered most.
âLast year we were building a team and we were saying promotion was a bonus but this year we are not talking of building.Â From the word go we know we are playing for the championship. If we fail this year we would have failed our job.
âThis year itâs serious business. We learnt from last year, we led the race but lapsed towards the end of the season, so I think we got a good lesson from that,â said Masaraure.