11 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Dembare to Date Sundowns

CHAMPIONS Dynamos' hopes of having solid preparations for the Champions League campaign could get a big boost following indications that South African Premiership giants Mamelodi Sundowns might play them in Harare early next month.

Sundowns indicated yesterday that they are willing to tour Zimbabwe during the break in the Absa Premiership, which has been necessitated by the staging of the African Cup of Nations.

The Nations Cup, continental football's biggest showcase, bursts into life at Soccer City in Johannesburg on January 19.

A number of South African clubs have resorted to organising tours, training camps and friendly matches to keep their shape ahead of the resumption of their league championship later next month.

Dynamos on their part have been seeking serious preparations to try and adequately prepare for the tough challenges that await them in the Champions League campaign.

DeMbare have also approached Sunday Chidzambwa's Black Leopards and Bidvest Wits for possible friendly matches.

The Harare giants are also targeting top Zambian sides Power Dynamos and Green Buffaloes.

But it is the possibility of dating Sundowns in Harare that is currently exciting Dynamos.

DeMbare vice-chairman Webster Chikengezha yesterday said they had received communication from Sundowns informing them that the Pretoria-based side might be prepared to tour the country and play more games to keep fit.

"We received a phone call from Sundowns today (yesterday) and they said they could be interested in coming here. Details are not yet clear and they promised to put it in writing.

"Someone from that side should be jetting into the country on Monday to discuss the modalities because they were saying they might want to arrange more friendlies against teams like Highlanders or CAPS United," said Chikengezha.

Sundowns are home to the Zimbabwean quartet of players Esrom Nyandoro, Nyasha Mushekwi and Method Mwanjali and chief scout Ian "Dibango" Gorowa.

Simba Sithole who is now at Dynamos also had a stint at the Brazilians, albeit a forgettable one, where he left without kick a ball in a competitive match and trooped back home to join the Glamour Boys in July last year.

Sithole could now get a chance to show Sundowns the asset whose potential they failed to appreciate.

But the only problem could be how the Zimbabwean champions could fit into the South African side's itinerary as they have released a busy programme which will also see them travelling to Polokwane for a mid-season training camp later this month and then to Botswana in early February.

They are scheduled to return from Botswana on February 4 and the South African league will resume three days after the end of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament whose final is slated for February 10.

But if the friendly match between DeMbare and Sundowns were to fall on a date that inside the duration of the Nations Cup tournament, that could mean the teams might have to downgrade the status of the match to a practice game to be played behind closed doors.

Confederation of African Football statutes prohibit the playing of competitive matches involving international sides when a high profile tournament like the Nations Cup is taking place. Sundowns were last year forced to scrap the four-team tournament they had arranged in Polokwane, in which they had invited Dynamos and CAPS United because it clashed with the 2012 Nations Cup finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

DeMbare had however, turned down the offer citing costs and opting to play local sides as part of the preparation.

But after a disastrous campaign in the Champions League, the Dynamos family seem to have finally realised the significance of having international opposition to help them gauge their strength and condition for the rigours of the African game.

Dynamos crashed out of the Champions League in the second round last year when they succumbed to a heavy 7-1 aggregate defeat at the hands of Tunisian giants Esperance.

The Glamour Boys then failed to redeem themselves in the second tier Confederation Cup after losing to Angolan police outfit Interclube 1-0.

DeMbare however have said they would want to make amends this year. They play Lesotho Correctional Services in the preliminary round which kicks off over the weekend of February 15-17, with the return set for two weeks later.

If, as largely expected, they sail through this stage DeMbare will have a bigger test in the first round where they are lined up to face either Al Ettihad of Libya or Tunisia's Club Birzetin.

The Harare giants could then meet African champions Al Ahly in the decisive second round if they are successful early in the campaign.

Chikengezha said DeMbare are "not leaving any stone unturned" in their preparations and would do everything within their financial limitations.

"Most of the teams were on Christmas break but now they are back and we should expect more responses in the next week. But what we want is to play the first friendly match before we engage Lesotho Correctional Services in February just to gauge ourselves with the right standard. We will then see how we can accommodate the other games, if they materialise," said Chikengezha.

DeMbare continued with their preparations yesterday and Chikengezha revealed they were making a breakthrough in their negotiations for Hwange striker Francesco Zekumbawire.

The player has been included in the club's 25-member squad submitted at Caf but his move had seemed complicated after DeMbare and Hwange failed to agree on terms to release the player.

Zekumbawire is contracted to Hwange and it appeared Hwange's initial demands were prohibitive as they were reportedly asking US$130 000 for the player.

Chikengezha yesterday said a deal could be now in sight for Zekumbawire while they have almost given up hope on Zambian defender Aaron Katebe.

"On Zekumbawire, I am happy to say that we are almost done with the deal as we have agreed on most of the issues. It had taken this long because we had to discuss on a number of things that needed to be put straight.

"The good thing however is that we have managed to sort out the most important things that put us apart and have now agreed in principle with the club for his release. We are hoping that he will join the rest of the Dynamos players next week," said Chikengezha.

"But is appears there are still some big problems with Katebe. It looks like nothing is really coming up because we understand he is in Zvishavane when he should have been here. If he has interest with Dynamos he should be at Dynamos because we have agreed with him and even registered him for the Champions League."

However, DeMbare's preparation suffered a dent when one of their new signings Russel Madamombe sat out the training session yesterday after suffering an injury.

The extent of the injury could not be ascertained but it was attributed to the bad state of the pitch at DeMbare's training ground at Raylton Sports Club their training ground.

Dynamos players and their technical team have often raised concerns about the venue and their campaign last year was continuously upset by injuries attributed to the condition of their training ground.

DeMbare had this week planned to shift base but they could not be accommodated at Prince Edward where they wanted to train yesterday. The club however will train at Rufaro today.

Copyright © 2013 The Herald. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.