ZVISHAVANE – Shabanie Mine coach Wilson Mutekede is confident the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) returnees will hold their own after watching his side draw with defending champions CAPS United in a top flight league opener on Sunday.
Due to their well-documented lack of resources, many had tipped the newly-promoted side to be strong relegation candidates come end of season.
The Chinda Boys, however, had the Green Machine on the back foot during the opening match at Maglas Stadium and were unlucky not to get maximum points.
“We have the quality to stay among the best. We have about four experienced players who are giving us stability as we work on the confidence and combinations of the younger crop, a sizeable number of which has never played Premiership football before,” Mutekede said.
“We are only about 40 percent complete in working on their combination play and game intelligence.”
Mutekede believes they should have collected maximum points if his charges had started on the offensive in the same manner they did in the second half.
“There were a number of issues that happened. Firstly, this being the first game and against CAPS United, the players showed them too much respect and also that they have not been practising with speed balls that were used in the game,” Mutekede added.
Former Dynamos forward Farai Mupasiri was a constant threat to the Makepekepe defenders before he was substituted with an injury late in the game.
Attacking midfielder Tinashe Mupumha also gave the likes of Hardlife Zvirekwi and Dennis Dauda a torrid time each time he was in possession with his dribbling skills.
“He was playing Division Two football last year and when I told Mutekede that I had discovered a gem, he couldn’t believe me initially but the boy showed his class the moment he arrived for trials,” Shabanie technical manager Taku Shariwa said of Mupumha.
And on the few occasions that CAPS United went on the attack, they found a stumbling block in Shabanie goalkeeper Samuel Mafukidze, who made a number of good saves.
Mafukidze, who kept 15 clean sheets in the Central Region Division One last season, showed his worth when he saved a stinging free kick from CAPS goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda.