AFTER spending a couple of seasons in the local football wilderness, shrewd local gaffer Philani “Beefy” Ncube was by end of March anxiously waiting for his comeback into the country’s elite football league by leading Bulawayo City from the dugout.
However, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, that resulted in worldwide lockdowns, that was never to be the case for the outspoken coach, whose last show in the PSL was in 2017 leading Harare City, months after being sucked into match fixing allegations.
“Coming back into Premier Soccer League is a big motivator but courtesy of this Covid-19 pandemic, my bouncing back has been prolonged. However, there is no one to blame because this is a natural cause,” said the man who also took charge at the now defunct How Mine before he temporarily took a break.
While he accepts that in the wake of the coronavirus everyone has to act responsibly to save lives, his side of the story also borders on agitation and yearn.
“I must say we are being starved of football. Anxiety is getting the better part of me. The football crave is greatly killing me but we need to accept that life comes first. We need to play matches that are played and watched by healthy people,” added Ncube.
He further reckoned that the lockdown had come as a blessing in disguise for Bulawayo City.
“We had engaged in a crash programme and as such the lockdown has helped us to have a further look into our plans. Every day I have a deep analysis of my team all in a way of trying to perfect our approach. I also do football video analysis in an effort to jog my memory with regards to reading a match,” said Ncube.
At City, former Dynamos, FC Platinum and Caps United forward Wisdom Mutasa is expected to lead the attack after signing a season’s contract with the municipal side.
The former Young Warriors’ forward is part of an “almost newly” assembled side that coach Ncube registered for the Premiership season.
Only 11 players from the squad that starred in City’s Premiership return by winning the 2019 Zifa Southern Region Division One League title survived the chop and will play in the PSL when it starts.
Experienced goalkeeper Kelvin Nyoni, his understudy Elton Sibanda, the defence quartet of skipper Zibusiso Sibanda, Benson Phiri, Lesley Lunga and Ntobeko Moyo, the midfield pair of Welcome Ndiweni and Melikhaya Ncube as well as the striking trio of Mgcini Sibanda, Gerald Ngulube and Nkosilomusa Khanye were retained in the club’s PSL squad.
Coach Ncube signed a host of experienced players in a bid to strengthen the squad and ensure they effectively compete in the topflight.
Nomadic midfielder Dominic Mukandi, who played under Ncube at defunct Njube Sundowns, ex-FC Platinum and Caps United central attacking midfielder Hillary Bakacheza, former Caps United winger Crispen Machisi, Pasca Manhanga, who joined them from Triangle United, and former Quelaton, Bulawayo Chiefs and Hwange midfielder Eddie Nkulungo are some of the experienced players signed by City.
Former Highlanders and Shabanie Mine defender Douglas Sibanda, who played a vital role at Southern Region Division One side Talen Vision, ex-How Mine centre-back Kudzai Chideu, who was discarded by crosstown rivals Chicken Inn, and striker Dalubuhle Dlodlo, a Bosso 90 product, are all part of City’s new brigade.
“I think we have a balanced squad; a mixture of experience and youthful energetic players. I believe with this squad we can navigate the Premiership storms and effectively compete. We want to stay in the Premiership and I have confidence in this squad. Even the five players registered under the development slots are capable of holding their own, meaning that we have adequate cover that will keep everyone on their toes,” said Ncube.