9 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Dembare, Platinum Clash

CHAMPIONS Dynamos and ambitious FC Platinum could be headed for a showdown over Aaron Katebe following revelations that the miners are keen to snatch the Zambian defender from under DeMbare's nose.

The former Hwange man was expected to join the Glamour Boys in their pre-season training yesterday from his home in Zambia where he had gone for the festive holidays but instead chose to travel to Zvishavane upon his return.

DeMbare, who welcomed their regulars Roderick Mutuma and Milton Makopa after missing the action on the opening day, were left clueless following the no show by the Zambian player.

Striker Francesco Zekumbawire also did not turn up as DeMbare are still locked up in negotiations with his club, Hwange, while Ugandan striker Boban Zirintusa is expected any time this week.

But it is the decision by Katebe to head to Zvishavane that has left Dynamos feeling somewhat cheated.

Although Katebe did not take part in the FC Platinum training, sources said the miners were keen on signing the centreback and the Zambian was spotted watching their session from the terraces.

Curiously Katebe was spotted at FC Platinum on the day that his countryman and coach Tenant Chilumba took charge of his first training with the miners.

Chilumba was Katebe's mentor at Hwange last year but has since joined FC Platinum as head coach for the 2013 season. It is believed that Chilumba, who initially was the link between Dynamos and the player, could have developed interests in taking with him Katebe to FC Platinum. Chilumba has also taken with him another former Hwange player, Petros Mhari, who went through the paces with the Zvishavane side as they started their preparations for the new season.

With FC Platinum understood to have axed experienced defenders Norman Togara and former captain Zephaniah Ngodzo among the five senior players who were reportedly shown the exit yesterday, it heightened the suspicion that Katebe is being lined up as one of the major replacements in Kugona Kunenge Kudada's rearguard.

But what has irked Dynamos the most is that they claim to have have agreed personal terms with Katebe and had even secured the green light from Hwange to include Zekumbawire and him on their 25-man squad list sent to the Confederation of African Football in November.

Katebe was not immediately available for comment yesterday. However, DeMbare vice-chairman Webster Chikengezha said they were still expecting Katebe to join the rest of the squad late yesterday or today.

The Dynamos vice-chairman also indicated that they might be might be forced to abandon the deal if he Katebe continued with his no show.

Chikengezha insisted that, despite the rumours linking the player to FC Platinum, negotiations with Katebe's agents were still going on but expressed fears that they could have wasted a precious slot in the Champions League squad if he decides to turn them down.

"I have heard about the rumour (that Katebe is in Zvishavane) and I cannot dispute that because players are capable of doing anything. But our position is that negotiations with his agents are still going on. We understand Katebe left Zambia on Sunday and he should be joining us either tomorrow (today) or Thursday. If he doesn't come we might be forced to look elsewhere for a replacement but that will come at a cost because this would be a wasted slot.

"However, we have been in touch with his agent in Zambia and he confirmed to us that the deal is still on.

"His manager from Concorde Sport in America also phoned me and sent a text message assuring us that the player is coming to Dynamos. So we will just wait and see what happens," said Chikengezha.

Although DeMbare maintain that they were given assurances by the player's handlers to include him in their squad for the Champions League, FC Platinum appear to be using their financial muscle to prize him away from the Glamour Boys who have been struggling for resources to conclude all their transfer deals on time.

The Harare giants are also still pressing hard to get striker Zekumbawire from Hwange. They had also included him in their Champions League squad after reportedly getting assurances from the coal miners that the Warriors fringe striker would be released to them.

"We are still discussing for the release of Zekumbawire and hopefully we come to a common understanding. When we started negotiating we were far apart but now we are coming closer. The sticky issues are minor," said Chikengezha.

If the deal fails to materialise, DeMbare may be forced to assess former son Evans Gwekwerere who visited the team's training yesterday and pleaded with the coaches to take him on board.

Gwekwerere, who played for rivals CAPS United for the most part of last season, is a free agent after his intended move to Botswana failed to work out.

DeMbare are also understood to be chasing Highlanders playmaker Peter "Rio" Moyo to strengthen their midfield department. The Glamour Boys have been in touch with the player's agents and official communication is set to begin in the next few days.

Dynamos, who want to fill the vacancy that will be created by the departure of Soccer Star of the Year Denver Mukamba to South Africa's Bidvest Wits, have already roped in Russell Madamombe from Monomotapa and they believe Moyo will add depth to their engine room.

FC Platinum, who have a new executive and a new coach, are battling to put their house in order following a poor showing in last season. Their seventh place finish, a decline from their runners-up slot in their maiden year in the Premiership has torched a major clear out at the Zvishavane side as they have parted ways with senior players who include Benjamin Marere, Rowan Nenzou, Cabby Kamhapa, Togara and Ngodzo.

Sources close to FC Platinum said the new executive, which was put in place last week, is operating on a tight budget and the move could be part of cost-cutting measures. The platinum miners also look set to recall some of their players who were on loan while promoting a few from their junior ranks.

The sources said Togara, Kamhapa and Ngodzo are being transfer listed before the end of their contracts while Nenzou is not in the club's plans following the expiry of his deal. Marere's contract has also come to an end and the club is not renewing it.

The sources said the former Mwana Africa forward, who signed for US$10 000 when he first joined them, rejected a fresh deal after he was presented with a US$2 000 signing on fee. "I am not sure what is happening. But it could be issues to do with money because the salary bill was high and now they want to adopt a policy that is more oriented to promoting juniors. But some players like Nelson Maziwisa who were on loan will be recalled and am not sure about Norman Maroto because of his age," said the sources.

But the miners who are yet to beat Dynamos on the pitch could get one over their rivals and snatch Katebe, whom Dynamos coach Callisto Pasuwa was looking at as one of key replacements for George Magariro and Guthrie Zhokinyi.

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