Ray Bande Senior Sports Reporter
Mutare City Rovers began their preparations this week without five of their key players who opted to play for Manica Diamonds FC in Division One instead of Premiership football with the financially hamstrung municipality owned outfit.
Top man, Steven “Dealer” Sibanda, midfielder, Hibron “Adala” Makukutu, Clemence “Skude” Mkudu, Rederick “Jecha” Mufudza and goalkeeper, Godfrey Chisango all packed their belongings heading for Manica Diamonds. Such is the power of money that Manica Diamonds FC managed to get over 200 players during their trails, while Mutare City Rovers FC only attracted a paltry 30 when they resumed their off-season preparations this week.
Investigations by Post Sport revealed that Mutare City Rovers promised to offer employment to seven players only, a development that irked other players who had pinned their hopes for better living conditions on securing employment. Mutare City Rovers spokesperson, Clayton Masekesa, said their preparations were going ahead smoothly irrespective of the players that left.
“Our preparations are going ahead smoothly and we are happy with the number of players that we got. This is matter of choice. It is not a mass exodus as such as the contracts we had with the players had expired. Their contracts expired on December 31, 2017.
“Players have their choices and decisions. For those who have left we think they have made a decision that is good for them. We want to thank them for getting us promoted back into the Premiership. We want to wish them good luck in their future football endeavours,” said Masekesa.
Mutare City Rovers team manager, Lyndon Kanyemba, played down the issue of small numbers turning out for their off-season preparations, saying they are not conducting trials, but normal training sessions.
“Remember we are not a newly formed team. We are not conducting trails as such. We already have a team and what we are having is just normal preseason preparations,” said Kanyemba.
Be that as it may, difficult times seem to be awaiting Mutare City Rovers given their failure to compete favourably on the transfer market and reliance on raw talent and inexperienced players. With a budding coach who does not have a traceable success record in his career at Premiership football level, neutrals can be forgiven for taking Mutare City Rovers’ off season preparations as one big joke.
Apparently, this is the second time that Mutare City Rovers have been promoted into the domestic Premiership but it now seems clear that they have learnt very little, if anything, from their previous flirtation with top flight league football.