Here we go again!. . . 2015 PSL season promises drama and more drama

THE 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League kicks off next weekend and it could be one of the most exciting in recent years given the buzz that has characterised the off-season transfer market.

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Today we look at the state of affairs of all the 16 contestants. Read on . . .

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Buffaloes

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1403-2-1-DYNAMOS CHAMPIONSFinancial instability may cost Buffaloes, who have been weaned off by the Zimbabwe National Army.

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The side will also have to find a new coach following the reported departure of Moses “Bambo” Chunga.

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The Mutare outfit has lost a handful of players, including veteran Tafadzwa Mombeshora and the soldiers could find themselves on the train back to Division One come November if they don’t quickly put their house in order.

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First five fixtures: Dynamos (A), Triangle (H), ZPC Kariba (A), Highlanders (H), Hwange (A).

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Caps United

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Makepekepe, who despite losing a number of key players in the off-season have suddenly rediscovered their spring, thanks to their new partnership with South Africa-based mobile phone application company Zing.

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A promising start to the year that saw them beating both Dynamos and Highlanders in high-profile pre-season clashes has seen their millions of supporters starting to dream again.

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Tafadzwa Dube, Tendai Samanja, Kelvin Bulaji, Dominic Chungwa, Tapiwa Khumbuyani, Charles Mukanhairi, Nicholas Alifandika and Honey Chimutimunzeve left, but Caps are not mourning.

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English coach Mark Harrison made a grand arrival and sanctioned the capture of Rodreck Mutuma from DeMbare, former golden boy Leonard Tsipa, unheralded Kudzai Nyamupfukudza and shot-stopper Victor Twaliki. With financial stability guaranteed by their new sponsor Zing, Makepekepe will be aiming for the title.

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First five fixtures: Whawha (A), FC Platinum (H), How Mine (A), Dynamos (H), Triangle (A).

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Chapungu

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“Our objective is to finish in the top eight; it is very achievable and I am confident we will do it,” coach John Nyikadzino boldly declared during the week.

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Chapungu, who survived relegation by a whisker last season, have beefed up their squad with the captures of the seasoned Tafadzwa Mombeshora, Tinei Chitora, Allan Tavarwisa and Nhlanhla Ncube.

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First five fixtures: How Mine (A), Dynamos (H), Triangle (A), ZPC Kariba (H), Highlanders (A).

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Chicken Inn

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Joey Antipas managed to hold on to influential player Danny “Deco” Phiri and swooped on under-achieving forward Michele Katsvairo from FC Platinum as well as bright prospect Tafadzwa Kutinyu from relegated Bantu Rovers.

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2014 Southern Region Division One top scorer, with 16 goals, Edmore Chirambadare, and former Chiredzi striker David Temwanjira, have also joined the Gamecocks, who should have a realistic chance of finishing among the top eight.

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Faded former soccer star Ramson Zhuwawo, Charles Mutero, Liberty Chirava, Last Chibwiro and Tendai Mukambi are some of the notable players to have left Chicken Inn.

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“It is going to be another tough season with lots of competition, but what we are after is progression . . . a position better than last year’s sixth,” said Antipas.

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First five fixtures: Flame Lily (H), Harare City (A), Tsholotsho (H), Whawha (H), FC Platinum (A).

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Dongo Sawmills

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The débutants have not been active on the market and kick start their maiden top-flight season with the relegation candidate tag around their necks.

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Coach Shadreck “Father” Mugurasawe, who has been told to worry about relegation and nothing else, has a few players with Premiership experience in the form of ex-DeMbare striker Dylan Chivandire and 2008 Soccer Star of the Year Evans Chikwaikwai.

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“We have a number of unheralded youngsters from Manicaland who are eager to showcase their talent on a bigger stage. We just pray we survive the chop; any other achievement will be a bonus,” said Mugurasawe.

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First five fixtures: FC Platinum (A), How Mine (H), Dynamos (A), Triangle (H), ZPC Kariba (A).

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Dynamos

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Dynamos will always be Dynamos. Success is in their nature and naturally they start every season as hot favourites for the title.

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Kelvin Bulaji, Dominic Chungwa, Godknows Murwira, Qadar Amini, Tonderayi Mateyaunga and Obey Mwerahari have joined DeMbare.

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Murape Murape, Rodreck Mutuma, Washington Pakamisa, Tawanda Muparati, Devon Chafa, Thomas Magorimbo, Russel Madamombe, Tafadzwa Rusike and Themba Ndlovu are some of the key players who are no longer with the champions. David “Yogi” Mandigora, who took over from four-time championship-winning coach Kallisto Pasuwa, will have his work cut out.

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First five fixtures: Buffaloes (H), Chapungu (A), Dongo (H), Caps United (A), Flame Lily (H).

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FC Platinum

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On paper they have one of the best squads in the Premiership and some are already talking of a maiden championship for the Zvishavane side.

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In Norman Mapeza they have one of the best football brains in the country.

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However, the former Warriors skipper has remained modest and still thinks FC Platinum are not yet ripe for the title.

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“If we can maintain our place in the top four that will be fine,” said Mapeza.

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Mapeza made a few touch-ups to the squad that clinched fourth position last year, bringing in Brian Muzondiwa, Wellington Kamudyariwa and Emmanuel Mandiranga at the expense of Benjamin Marere, Michele Katsvairo, James Marufu and Qadar Amini.

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First five fixtures: Dongo (H), Caps United (H), Flame Lily (H), Harare City (A), Chicken Inn (H).

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Flame Lily

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Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera will fight relegation from Match Day One and he knows it. The former Black Rhinos coach did not move for any big names, preferring Division One players such as the Gunners trio of Moses Demera, Prosper Chigumba and Tendai Huwa.

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ZRP Morris attacking linkman Moses Madziva is also with the prison wardens.

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“We are going to play to survive; we do not want to go back to Division One and the players know that,” said Saruchera.

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First five fixtures: Chicken Inn (A), Whawha (H), FC Platinum (A), How Mine (H), Dynamos (A).

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Harare City

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With a powerful squad assembled by former Caps United coach Taurai Mangwiro, the Sunshine Boys are expected to challenge for honours this time around.

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They came agonisingly near in 2013, when they failed to clinch the title on the last day of action.

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Experienced goalie Tafadzwa Dube, Themba Ndlovu, Tendai Samanja, Lincoln Zvasiya, Nicholas Alifandika, Honey Chimutimunzeve and highly rated youngster Tatenda Tumba form part of the scary Harare City side.

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Those shown the door by Mangwiro include Muzondiwa Gonese, Tongai Chiworeso, Arnold Chaka, Witness Nyamutsaka, Misheck Mburayi, Ray Uchena and Munyaradzi Kunyarimwe.

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“I expect a very tough season because most of the teams have been active on the market. But I must say we have a very competitive squad that can hold its own,” said Mangwiro, who has been given a top six target.

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First five fixtures: Tsholotsho (H), Chicken Inn (H), Whawha (A), FC Platinum (H), How Mine (A).

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Highlanders

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Outspoken new coach Bongani Mafu has a lot on his hands as he seeks to guide Bosso back to the podium after eight years of futile attempts.

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Highlanders have lost chief striker Charles Sibanda, Joel Ngodzo, Dumisani Ndlovu, Hillary Madzivanyika and Munyaradzi Diya. Obadiah Tarumbwa, Teenage Hadebe, Nqobizitha Masuku and Tendai Ngulube checked in.

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Bosso finished fifth last season, but as traditional hunters, they cannot be ruled out of the title challenge.

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First five fixtures: ZPC Kariba (A), Tsholotsho (A), Hwange (H), Buffaloes (A), Chapungu (H).

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How Mine

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The gold miners have been one of the most active on the market and many football pundits have already installed them as one of the teams that could challenge for a top four finish, or the title itself.

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Munyaradzi Diya, Devon Chafa, Tawanda Muparati, Charles Sibanda, Neftara Ndale, Tapiwa Kumbuyani, Benjamin Marere and Mgcini Sibanda form part of Luke Masomere’s ammunition.

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George Magariro, Ephraim Mazarura, Xolisani Moyo, Brighton Dube, Warren Dube, Edmond Muzanenhamo, Caleb Masocha, Elias Makako and Madhlenkosi Sibanda left the miners.

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“We are not under pressure to perform; buying many players doesn’t make us title favourites. If I finish better than last year’s position eight, I would be satisfied,” said Masomere.

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First five fixtures: Chapungu (H), Dongo (A), Caps United (H), Flame Lily (A), Harare City (H).

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Hwange

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There has been no major shake-up at the Colliery where Nation Dube’s coalminers are once again expected to maintain their mid-tablers tag. Chipangano managed to hold on to star player Evans Rusike who had interested DeMbare and ZPC Kariba.

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Dube made a few additions, bringing in unknown linkmen Gift Mbweti and Innocent Mucheneka as well as former Shabanie Mine second choice keeper London Zulu.

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First five fixtures: Triangle (A), ZPC Kariba (H), Highlanders (A), Tsholotsho (A), Buffaloes (H).

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Triangle

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Former Warriors linkman Peter “Rio” Moyo and defender Dumisani “Fazo” Ndlovu look set to link up with Kevin Kaindu who has also signed the ZPC Kariba duo of Ephraim Mwinga and Peter Muzondo.

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A top eight finish will be a commendable achievement for the sugar cane growers who, like last season, might again find themselves in the relegation mix.

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First five fixtures: Hwange (H), Buffaloes (A), Chapungu (H), Tsholotsho (A), Caps United (H).

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Tsholotsho Pirates

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The Premiership newcomers have not gone for any big names as head coach Lizwe Sweswe believes his unheralded troops will achieve the 2015 target — just staying afloat. They lost 2014 ZIFA Southern Region Division One League top scorer Chirambadare to Chicken Inn.

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Striker Kudzanai Machazane, who had a brief stint with Highlanders last season, has returned to Tsholotsho. Surviving relegation looks unlikely for the débutants.

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“We have been working on the players’ mindset, knocking into them the belief that there is nothing much different between them and the rest of the PSL players,” says Sweswe.

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First five fixtures: Harare City (A), Highlanders (H), Chicken Inn (A), Triangle (H), Whawha (A).

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Whawha

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The Midlands-based newcomers have opted against the big names and will go into their maiden top-flight season with unheralded players they sourced from the lower leagues. Technical advisor Lloyd Mutasa and coach Luke Petros have a mammoth task ahead of them.

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First five fixtures: Caps United (H), Flame Lily (A), Harare City (H), Chicken Inn (A), Tsholotsho (H).

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ZPC Kariba

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After a trailblazing maiden season that saw them nearly wrestle the title from Dynamos, the electricians are hard pressed to prove that last year’s run was no fluke.

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Despite suffering the setback of losing top striker Limited Chikafa to How Mine and utility player Obey Mwerahari to Dynamos, ZPC Kariba managed to retain the bulk of the 2014 squad.

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They still have reigning Coach of the Year Saul Chaminuka to guide them once more.

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Soccer Star of the Year Dennis Dauda and the country’s best ’keeper in 2014 Tendai Hove are still based in Kariba.

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Former DeMbare players Thomas Magorimbo and Russell Madamombe as well as veteran centre back George Magariro are now with Kauya Katuruturu.

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The side lost second choice goalie Tonderayi Mateyaunga, defenders Peter Muzondo and Ephraim Mwinga.

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Chaminuka is targeting a top six finish.

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“We are obviously under pressure to prove that last year was not a fluke, but a top six finish for a team only in its second season in the top flight is reasonable. However, if they allow us we will go all the way.”

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First five fixtures: Highlanders (H), Hwange (A), Buffaloes (H), Chapungu (A), Dongo Saw Mills (A).

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The Sunday Mail Sports Desk would like to know our readers’ views on which team they predict will win the league title and those they think will be relegated. Kindly give us your feedback on mutimukulu@gmail.com or on this WhatsApp number 0774 873 520.