Great expectations for Zim players

The battle for the ABSA Premiership begins this weekend. Will Takesure Chinyama’s Orlando Pirates emulate Supersport United and win it three times in a row? Will a super-charged United wrestle it back? Is it headed for Chiefs’ Naturena Village or the expensively-assembled Mamelodi Sundowns’ Chloorkop offices? Wherever it will land, Zimbabwean players look set to have a say in deciding that.

Khama Billiat
Khama Billiat

Almost every contender this season has a Zimbabwean national team player donning their colours. From Ajax Cape Town to Limpopo, our players form an integral part of the title challenge:

Ajax Cape Town – Khama Billiat was among their best performers last season, taking the torch from the departed Thulani Serero. Judging by the way he mesmerised Manchester United defenders in a pre-season friendly last month, the only way he cannot continue to do wonders for the “Urban Warriors” will be either through injury or a move overseas, which might be a few months ahead.

Amazulu – Tapuwa Kapini’s talents were not exposed as much at Platinum Stars as they were in his debut season with “Usuthu”. Given his perennial role as captain in his last three clubs, the Warriors first team goalie has re-lived his glory days at Highlanders since his R1million move early last season.

Defender Carlington Nyadombo, voted Player of the Season and the Player’s Player of the Season, is also likely to continue where he left last season, while Ramson Zhuwao is among obvious choices for starting berths.

Kaizer Chiefs – Willard Katsande remains “undeserving” of the black and gold strip, according to most fans, but being kept when three of his countrymen were allowed to leave should boost his confidence. Jimmy Jambo looks to be the obvious choice for lef tback position. His performance in the recent Carling Black Label cup showed how good he still is, while Lincoln Zvasiya has to show character competing with Morgan Gould, Tefu Mashamaite, Mulomowandau Mathoho and Morgan Gould in central defence. Throw Kingstone Nkatha and Chiefs have a good striker who is likely to decide most of their games in the manner he did at Free State Stars and Black Leopards.

Bidvest Wits – Energy Murambadoro remains obvious choice for the goalkeeping department. Tinashe Nengomasha remains the best defensive link and Chiefs fans have still not forgiven their club for releasing “The General”. He told me recently that he had now changed to “Admiral”, but the same fighting spirit is still expected, while Thomas Sweswe will fortify the defence in a team that remains a dark horse for the title.

Mamelodi Sundowns – Whether the talents of Esrom Nyandoro, Method Mwanjali and Nyasha Mushekwi will ultimately succeed where Patrice Motsepe’s millions have failed in the past few seasons remains everyone’s big guess. Nyandoro has fully recovered and is back fighting for a starting slot, while Mushekwi will steal their attack with Mwanjali at right back central defence.

Moroka Swallows – It was so near yet so far for Oscar Machapa and Gilbert Mapemba at the end of last season, as they lost the title to Pirates on the last day of the league. They have now lost inspirational coach, Gordon Igesund to the SA national team, but in Zeca Marques, they have a good replacement.

Black Leopards – Brian Abas Amidu admits being hurt at being deemed surplus to requirements at Chiefs without playing an official match, but hopes to prove his worth in the Limpopo outfit and under the guidance of countryman, Sunday Chidzambwa. He has three years to prove Chiefs wrong.

Other notable Zimbabwean players in the league are; Taonga Dondo (Free State Stars), Cuthbert Malajila (Maritzburg United), Obert Moyo (Platinum Stars) and the duo of Washington Arubi and Lionnel Mtizwa (Pretoria University).

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