When the 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season kicks off in March, the country’s top-flight will have four new teams.
Hwange, Simba Bhora, GreenFuel and Sheasham will be in the PSL after winning Division One leagues in their respective regions.
The quartet ‘s participation will add more excitement to the PSL considering the league will broaden to other parts of the country.
Who amongst them will make the biggest impact?
Chipangano are the only ones among the four teams promoted, to have tasted PSL football before. They were relegated in 2019.
Hwange shrugged off competition from rivals ZPC Hwange to win the Southern Region ticket with one game to spare.
They have since replaced Southern Region Division One-title winning coach Try Ncube with former Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu.
Chipangano lost only two of their 33 games on their way back to the PSL after a 3-year wait.
Hwange’s home ground, the 15 000-seater Colliery, is one of the toughest venues in the history of the PSL and it being the fortress it used to be, will be key for the coalminers.
In Felix Chindungwe and David Borowondo, they have seasoned defenders who are no strangers to PSL football and the duo will be key for Hwange.
Bankrolled by Hwange Colliery Company, the coalminers are capable of being a force to reckon with in the PSL but distance might be a detrimental factor.
For games in Harare, using road, the team has to travel a distance of over 600 kilometers.
They also have to travel a 10-hour distance to Chisumbanje and fatigue might be a problem for them.
The Shamva community cannot wait for next year.
For the first time ever, the mining town will have Premiership football after Simba Bhora won the Northern Region Soccer League to earn promotion.
Simba, owned by mining mogul Simba ‘Buju’ Ndoro, were in a nail-biting three-horse race with Herentals U20 and Golden Eagles.
Ultimately, and somewhat inevitably, considering the quality at their disposal, Authur Tutani’s troops won the race, six points ahead of second-placed Herentals U20.
For the third time in Tutani’s illustrious career spanning over a decade, the veteran coach led a team to the PSL.
Sadly though, the former Black Rhinos coach will not be sitting on the Simba Bhora bench come next season. He is not a holder of the required CAF A coaching license and efforts by the club’s leadership to get him a waiver from ZIFA, were in vain.
Former Dynamos head coach Tonderai ‘Stanza’ Ndiraya, who was shown the exit door by the fading giants despite leading them to a top-3 finish in the just-ended season, will take over at Simba.
Whether or not Ndiraya does a squad overhaul at Simba remains to be seen but at his disposal are players with PSL experience.
The captain is veteran former Dynamos defender Brighton Tuwaya, who partnered steady former CAPS United defender Webster Tafa in the heart of defence.
The Simba backline also included the veteran duo of former Warriors and CAPS United right-back Hardlife Zvirekwi and Dexter Phiri, formerly of ZPC Kariba.
Former Dynamos and CAPS United goalkeeper Simbarashe Chinani is also at Simba, together with diminutive midfielder Ronald ‘Rooney’ Chitiyo.
The most outstanding player in the Simba Bhora title-winning season was striker Tinashe Balakasi. He scored a record-breaking 29 goals in the league and the number should have been 30, had his goal against Eagles at Ellis Robins in August, not been incorrectly disallowed.
Simba Bhora have a lot of work to do to make an impact in the PSL but the experience in the side, as well as upcoming and exciting youngsters like Simbarashe Maramwidze, Privillege Mugandani and Phineas Chigulupate, will have the Shamva community daring to dream.
The club hierarchy is also aware of the fact that strengthening the squad is a must, which is why they tried to lure Dynamos defender Frank Makarati and former Warriors speed merchant Talent Chawapiwa.
Simba Bhora play their home games at Wadzanai Stadium, though it remains to be seen if the facility will pass the PSL test.
The club’s financial muscle, which saw them paying the same amount of winning bonuses as some teams in the PSL, might come in handy next year —as it will attract players.
Gore Rino Ndizvo Zvarongwa naPapa Lodza might not be a hymn preserved for CAPS United fans only come next season.
There is a new ‘green machine’ in the PSL and it’s also coached by a legend named Lloyd.
The Chisumbanje community is basking in glory over GreenFuel’s promotion to the PSL. Lloyd ‘Samaita’ Mutasa’s charges were unstoppable in the Eastern Region Division One.
They won the sole ticket to the PSL with six games to spare, while 12 points clear of second-placed Mutare City Rovers.
The culture at the club, upon which its domination of the Eastern Region can be attributed, can also see them making a mark in the PSL next season.
They play their home games at the GreenFuel Arena, though it also remains to be seen if the facility will be approved by the PSL.
Within their ranks are experienced players who have tasted PSL football before.
GreenFuel are captained by former Dynamos defender Obey Mwerahari, who leads a team which also includes veteran striker Tendai ‘DJ Malaika’ Nyamadzawo.
Former Golden Eagles hotshot Claude ‘Pokello’ Mapoka, is also at Green Fuel.
Mutasa is confident the ambitious Ethanol Boys will be in the country’s top-flight to compete and is backing the talent his disposal to the job.
“We might not need much, maybe three or four additions just to add competition to the squad, otherwise we are good to compete,” said Mutasa, who has also led Kiglon and Tanganda to the PSL.
GreenFuel are sponsored by GreenFuel (Pvt) Ltd and have also roped in former Highlanders assistant coach Bhekitemba Ndlovu to the Mutasa-led technical team.
The Gweru-based side deservedly won the Central Region league to earn promotion to the PSL.
John Nyikadzino’s troops completed the job with an emphatic 5-1 demolition of Loss Control at Mandava Stadium.
They were ubeaten in the league. They won 17 of their 26 matches and drew nine on their way to winning the title.
The Construction Boys finished three points ahead of second-placed TelOne, who were breathing down their necks all season.
Having suffered the heartbreak of missing out on promotion on the last day of the season in 2019, Sheasham came back stronger and completed the job this time, to the delight of Nyikadzino.Nyikadzino is no stranger to PSL football, having been in the top-flight with army side Chapungu and Nichrut and the coach.
Sheasham played their home games at Bata Stadium, a facility which is currently being revamped ahead of the team’s maiden appearance in the PSL.
They have former Chicken Inn goalkeeper Nigel Mpinduki on their ranks.
Sheasham are backed financially by property developing company Sheasham Investments.