25 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Monoz Unfazed By Potential Player Exodus

MONOMOTAPA chairman Joseph Mukoki believes the club will not go down even though they are set to lose about eight players during the off-season break. The 2008 champions were clearly the best team to watch during the just-ended season with their entertaining brand of neat passing football.

But Monomotapa may not be able to hold onto the squad, which finished runners-p in the Mbada Diamonds Cup with the majority of their key players being targeted by local and foreign clubs for the 2013 season.

Goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi, clearly the best goalkeeper in the Premiership this season, chief striker and skipper Tawanda Nyamandwe, Tendai Ngulube and Osbourne Mukuradare have decided not to renew their contracts with the side.

Experienced goalkeeper Joram Muchambo, who has previously seen duty with Chapungu, former Young Warriors defender Knowledge Machona, Makai "Jecha" Kawashu and creative midfielder Russell Madamombe have asked to be released. Mukandi and Madamombe have since completed their switch to Harare giants DeMbare and have already been registered for the Champions League.

Mukoki yesterday said his club would not stand in the way of players who want to pursue "greener pastures elsewhere" and stressed that Monomotapa would not lose their fluency despite losing some of their cream in the shake-up.

"It's a bit of a setback but we are not crying over the players who want to move elsewhere. It's a fact that some of them were our best players but that won't leave us as a weak team.

"I think we will even be stronger next year because we have able replacements to provide cover in all the departments.

"We also have new players that we are targeting to bring on board and at the same time we are aiming to promote some of our performing juniors into the senior ranks.

"We had four young players whom we had loaned out to Banket United and those will be recalled. It's only natural that we would need to beef up and although we may take a different outlook in terms of personnel, our brand of football will not change. People may move but our game remains the same. We will be there next year playing competitively again," said Mukoki.

Monoz, a modest Harare side has just like most of the of the Premiership teams, been experiencing financial difficulties throughout the season but thanks to the commitment of their chief financier director Solomon Mugavazi and Mukoki's management crew, they have soldiered on.

The club finished a creditable fourth this year and had an outstanding campaign in the Mbada Diamonds Cup despite losing the final to Dynamos.

Mukoki said he was happy with their new signing Ishmael Lawe who joined them from relegated side Gunners.

Lawe completed his move last Friday, the same day that one of Monomotapa's pillars of influence Kuda Musharu penned a new three-year deal with the club.

"I think we have made a good signing in bringing Lawe to Monomotapa. We all find him very impressive. His pace and conversion rate makes him a brilliant striker.

"As you know our finishing was one area that was not well polished. I wasn't particularly impressed by the work rate upfront because we created numerous chances with that passing game but the scoring still remained low.

"We needed someone to push for the goals. The good thing is that the kind of passing football that Lawe was used to when he was still at Gunners is the same that he will find here. So I am sure he will be able to fit into the system quickly and hopefully he will settle well," said Mukoki.

Monomotapa are looking to bring in more players from other Premiership clubs and Mukoki said negotiations are still in progress.

The former champions will not leave anything to chance as they also conducted trials early this month and got an overwhelming response with several talented young players coming at their Alex Sports Club training ground.

Coach Biggie Zuze and his lieutenants shortlisted 20 promising players and the list will be slashed by half when they begin their pre-season training in mid-January.

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