Ray Bande Senior Reporter
MANICA Diamonds FC became the first team to unveil the greater part of the contingent of players they intend to use, a promising blend of experienced and youthful top flight league material, in a clear message to competitors in the Castle Lager Premiership that they will not be part of the 2019 season only to make up numbers.
The Gem Boys, as Manica Diamonds are fondly referred to here in the eastern border city, paraded a number of players that include veteran defender Partson Jaure, 25-year old former FC Platinum player Marshal Mudehwe, ex-Dynamos defender Peace Makaha, 24-year old ex-CAPS United midfielder Wisdom Mutasa, 23-year old Pritchard Mpelele from Harare City and former Black Rhinos goalkeeper Ashley Reyners who was in absentia.
Apart from the players snatched from fellow top flight league teams, Manica Diamonds also roped in new players from ambitious Eastern Region Division One clubs Green Fuel and Buffaloes that include Tendai Chikono, Timoti Gilbert and Last Jesi.
The Gem Boys also retained a number of players from last season including goalkeeper Jorum Muchambo, Timire Mamvura, Tinashe Chigede, another goalkeeper Godfrey Chisango and striker Stephen ‘Dealer’ Sibanda.
Makaha joined the Mutare outfit after being shown the exit at Dynamos together with Kingstone Nkhatha, Obey Mwerahari and Marshal Machazane at the end of last season for allegedly leading a player revolt over bonuses.
Club secretary general Sugar Chagonda said a lot has been said on social media and the unveiling ceremony was meant to put to rest some of the baseless rumours.
“It is sad that a lot had been said on social media and one of the reasons for this unveiling ceremony was to put to rest some of the baseless rumours. For example, we have been linked to Denver Mukamba and I wonder where that was coming from,” said Chagonda.
Club chairman Masimba Chihowa said they failed to secure the services of Warriors fringe player Liberty Chakoroma who opted to stay at Ngezi Platinum while efforts to lure promising Tenax FC striker Nyasha Chintuli were futile after the Gem Boys were gazumped to his signature by Triangle.
“Make no mistake, we really wanted to get a number of players that have links with Mutare but some of the players either refused to join us or still had running contracts with their employers.
“Liberty Chakoroma opted to stay at Ngezi Platinum while negotiations to bring Ticha Mabvura are still underway and we hope to be successful in getting him on board,” he said.
Chihowa said they will work flat out to fill in the remaining slots with players that will add depth to the 19 unveiled yesterday.
He said the five slots meant for junior players will be filled strictly by players from Manicaland.
“We are required to sign five players that are under the age of 20 and these will be taken strictly from Manicaland. The remaining six will soon be announced and they have to be players that add depth to the squad that we already have.
“As you can see we have tried by all means to build a youthful side. That was one of the guiding principles as we came up with the list of players for our team,” said Chihowa.
The former Fifa panel match official admitted that they could not get all players on their wish list including some that trace their roots from Mutare such as Liberty Chakoroma who opted to remain with his current employers.
Manica Diamonds gained promotion via the Zifa Eastern Region Division One where they completed the season without tasting defeat.