The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Striker Crisis At Dembare

DYNAMOS yesterday plunged deeper into a striker crisis ahead of their Champions League soccer tie against Lesotho Correctional Services at Rufaro on Sunday after revelations that they would not be able to field three of their new acquisitions until the mini-league phase of the competition.

The Glamour Boys had registered former Hwange striker Allan Tavarwisa, Triangle forward Patrick Kumbula and former Gunners defender Byron Madzokere on January 31, the extended registration date for the teams wishing to add more players to their list for the 2013 Champions League competition after the normal registration date which closed late last year.

But it has since emerged that Caf have written to Zifa advising them that Tavarwisa, Kumbula and Madzokere are ineligible to play in the opening rounds of the Champions League as all late entries are only eligible to start playing in the group stages of the tournament.

This development will now force Dynamos to use veteran midfielder Murape Murape as one of their strikers together with the rookie pair of Farai Mupasiri and Ugandan international, Boban Ziruntusa.

DeMbare had already been crippled upfront following the departure of experienced forwards Roderick Mutuma and Simba Sithole to the lucrative South African Premiership.

They also had three wasted slots in the Champions League after Francesco Zekumbawire remain grounded in Hwange while Aaron Katebe, who was also registered for this competition, ended up joining FC Platinum, and Martin Vengesayi going to Harare City.

With Zekumbawire's deal seemingly reaching a deadend, as the two clubs haggle over a US$15 000 loan fee for one year, Dynamos moved in swiftly and brought in the pair of Tavarwisa and Khumbula as replacements.

They went on to register Madzokere, who had just returned from a trial stint with South African soccer giants Orlando Pirates, as a direct replacement for Zambian international Katebe.

However, Dynamos, who were still trying to recover from a blow of missing versatile leftback Ocean Mushure, who has been ruled out with an ankle injury, were dealt a body blow ahead of this weekend's match against Lesotho Correctional Services with the news that they will not be able to field the trio of Tavarwisa, Kumbula and Madzokere in this match. The Dynamos technical team only learnt about this development during their morning training session yesterday and would now have to resort to Plan B.

After receiving the disturbing news, coach Pasuwa said that they might use long-serving midfielder Murape in his weakened strike-force as he seeks a healthy lead in Sunday's match before travelling to Maseru in a fortnight for the return leg.

"The player licences for the three players did not come when all other licences were issued out and so when we checked with Zifa, they said they were informed by Caf today (yesterday) that we cannot use the (three) players at this stage.

"We will have to soldier on and work with what we have. We have Farai (Mupasiri), Boban (Ziruntusa) and Murape whom we have been using as a striker at our training sessions. So we will have to make do with that though it will leave us without depth in our squad," Pasuwa said.

Earlier on, at Zimphos grounds where the team is training twice everyday, Pasuwa had outlined his game-plan for Sunday's match and spoke on the injury of Mushure.

"So far so good just that Ocean has an injury on his right ankle and is being assessed by the doctors and is not training with the team.

"Russell (Madamombe) started training today but is looking sharp for someone who hasn't been training although we don't know much about his fitness level. But the doctors will advise us on whether we can field him on Sunday. Of the 25 players we had registered, I think we have 20 available, including three goalkeepers. After our recent matches against Sundowns and Highlanders, we managed to assess some of our weaknesses.

"In the match against Sundowns, we were compact in terms of shape but offensive-wise we had problems and we had to rectify our attack, our runs, as it is not just about strikers, so we have been working on that starting from the back so that we have many scoring chances.

"Against Highlanders, we were slow in terms of pressing forward, giving them too much room but on the break it was okay, and so far it's coming up well.

"We will definitely miss Ocean (Mushure) because being one of the senior guys, we wanted him to be there but there is not much we can do and we hope we will only miss him in the first leg and he would recover in time for the return leg," said Pasuwa.

The DeMbare coach said their opponents are likely to be defensive in their approach on Sunday.

"We will not attack from the outset. We will first read the game and I know they (Lesotho Correctional Services) will be defensive in their approach so we will have to find ways to open up their rearguard."

Meanwhile, Dynamos yesterday visited their patron and Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu, at his home to offer their condolences following the passing on of his mother, Mary Shamu, last week. Shamu said he was touched when the team dedicated their victory against Highlanders in the Bob '89 Super Cup first leg tie on Sunday to his mother.

"Sometimes, you really ask: 'Did l really know my mother?' By just listening to the testimonies that were said by people over my mother at her funeral and the way she impacted on peoples lives.

"I want to thank you for what you did in Bulawayo and when I read the newspapers with my wife, we were really touched . . . That was so thoughtful of you to dedicate the victory to my mother.

"Sport is an important element in our society and people should learn to respect each other when they go to soccer matches whether you are a player, spectator or referee.

"Through sport, we bring discipline and unity of purpose. We always say Dynamos is a family and what you did (to dedicate Sunday's match to Mary Shamu) I really want to thank you, it was really comforting.

"I wish you the best in Sunday's first leg tie against LCS and you should not panic, it is just a challenge. You have to accept to review where you lost it last year, review the experiences in the African Safari and the new players should be encouraged by the experienced players and overcome stage-fright.

"I am impressed by the stability which is at Dynamos right now, and this is through the management and BancABC.

"Dynamos should now raise the bar and follow up on the marketing strategy which they have unveiled. The gains from the sale of the team's regalia is not getting to the club, they are not getting anything because there is no control so I am hoping this new committee would be focused and realise the goals they have set," said Shamu.

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