The Herald (Harare)

29 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Move Excites Mukandi

FORMER Young Warriors goalkeeper, Artwell Mukandi, is excited with his move to Dynamos and believes joining the champions was a great leap in his growing career as it gives him a platform to showcase his talents on the bigger Champions League stage.

Mukandi recently signed a two-and-half year deal with the Harare giants to complete a dream move following the expiry of his contract at Monomotapa.

On his own admission, Mukandi said there were moments when he thought that playing for a big club like Dynamos would remain a far-fetched dream.

But a great season between the posts for Monoz in which he inspired them to a fourth place finish on the Premiership log standings and a runners-up tag in the Mbada Diamonds Cup final did not go unnoticed with Dynamos coach Callisto Pasuwa revealing he is an admirer of the goalkeeper.

DeMbare are currently building a squad they would want to be strong enough to chase glory on both the domestic and continental fronts.

"This is a great step forward because you don't just wake up to see yourself playing for a club like Dynamos. It's good for my career. I feel motivated because it's every player's wish to play for a big club like Dynamos," said Mukandi. The former national Under-20 and Under-23 player had a fine season with Monomotapa this year in which he played 22 games, conceded nine goals and kept 13 clean sheets.

Mukandi had a dream outing between the posts and with his three-year contract at Monoz coming to an end it was only natural that offers would come flying from all directions.

And after considering a number of factors Mukandi decided to settle for the Glamour Boys, knowing fully well the challenges that lie ahead of him.

Mukandi will, however, find tough competition awaiting him in the form of George Chigova, the man who took the responsibilities as the first choice goalkeeper when Washington Arubi left for Pretoria University in the South Africa Premiership during the mid-season window, to lead the Harare giants to their second league and cup double.

But Mukandi is convinced that, if given the opportunity, he is ready to help DeMbare retain the league championship and the Mbada Diamonds Cup for the third successive year and appease the club's demanding legion of fans. More importantly, Mukandi is relishing the chance of featuring for DeMbare in the much tougher Champions League which would be his first time to compete in Africa's biggest inter-club competition. "I considered a lot of things before putting pen to paper. I also got advice from my close associates who told me that joining Dynamos is good for my career.

"It's a big club with a big support base. It's a team that has been winning titles and I would want to play my bit and also win my first championship medal next season.

"Everything has a beginning. I am looking forward to playing in the Champions League for the first time. I believe it's a good opportunity for me.

"I have to keep working hard, though. My overall wish is to play for the Warriors in the near future and I believe Dynamos will give me a good platform to advance my career," said Mukandi.

Before coming to DeMbare, Mukandi had been making steady progress at Monomotapa for three years under the mentorship of new Warriors goalkeepers' trainer Nkululeko Dhlamini.

Previously, the former Pamushana High School student had played for one season at Kiglon where he had launched his Premiership career as a high school graduate. Mukandi believes the competition he expects to find at Dynamos will make him a better player. He also believes that DeMbare's large following, demanding as it could be, is a big motivation.

"There is always pressure in life, but what makes a man is the ability to overcome that pressure and other challenges that come along. I think I am now mature enough to play at the highest level. In fact I am ready to compete.

"I will do my bit because everything in life needs serious commitment and hard work. I have never played for a club with many supporters like Dynamos. In fact most of the games we played against the likes of Dynamos, CAPS United or Highlanders, we had the minority supporters and I just hope with all those supporters now behind me, that would be a great experience."

DeMbare have registered three goalkeepers who also include Chigova and Tatenda Mukuruva who is coming from the juniors to fix their goalkeeping problems. Pasuwa told Supersport that Mukandi's arrival would widen their options.

"Artwell is a good goalkeeper. He did very well last season and he is part of the reason why Monomotapa finished in the top four," he said.

"He will add a different dimension to the team and his experience comes in very handy as we will be playing in Africa as well as the local tournaments including the league. It is a good acquisition for the team and he comes at the right time," Pasuwa said.

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