Shingi Matibiri, Sports Reporter
Stewart ‘Shutto’ Murisa is unfazed by the prospect of facing log leaders Simba Bhora in his first game in charge of Banket United when the Northern Region Soccer League returns on Saturday after a month long break.
Murisa took over at Banket United in April following the departure of Paul ‘Popopo’ Chimalizeni who is now an assistant coach at Simba Bhora. The Shamva based Simba Bhora have been ruthless at home during the first half of the season but Murisa is unperturbed as he feels his charges can stand up to the log leaders.
“Playing against the log leaders is a motivator on its own to the players. You can’t ask for anything more than that because once you do well against the log leaders, you make headlines,” Murisa said.
“The players have been fantastic at training during this break and can’t wait for the games to begin. There is a lot of improvement in all the departments. I can’t reveal much about what’s happening in my camp and also about the new signings. Just wait for Saturday and see, I can’t let the cat out of the bag.”
Simba Bhora who are one of the title favourites have been busy reinforcing during the break bringing in highly rated duo of Ronald ‘Rooney’ Chitiyo and Simba Chinani from CAPS United. They also signed former ZPC Kariba forward Raphael Manuvire from Chegutu Pirates, Nigel Tinarwo and Kumbirai Kapikinyu from Harare City, Privilege Mugandani from Black Mambas and Clive Boroma from Yadah.
The log leaders already boast of a cast of experienced players that includes top goal scorer in the league Tinashe Balakasi with 18 goals from 16 matches, former Soccer Star of the year Hardlife Zvirekwi, Barnabas Mushunje formerly of Dynamos as well as captain Brighton Tuwaya who played for Dynamos among others.
In other matches, Ralph Kawondera will take charge of his first league match as Trojan Stars coach when they host Harare City Cubs at Trojan Mine stadium while former Zimbabwe international Gilbert Mushangazhike’s second placed Golden Eagles are at home against Ngezi Platinum Stars U19 at Ellis Robbins.
Leo Kurauzvione‘s Golden Valley has a chance to exert revenge of third placed Herentals U20 at Rimuka stadium after the Students denied them a chance to play in the Axis Super8 Cup with a defeat in the last match of the first half of the season.
Black Mambas and Commando Bullets clash in the battle of the uniformed forces team with fourth and fifth place slots at stake with Chinhoyi Stars playing Cam & Motor at Chinhoyi stadium.
Chegutu Pirates open the second half of the season fixtures with an early kick off at lunchtime against Karoi United at Chakari stadium. Come Again and CUMA Academy clash in the Kadoma derby at Rimuka stadium in the only fixture on Sunday.