Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League debutants Border Strikers will start their preparations for the 2016 season in earnest tomorrow amid expectations that they will survive the chop come the end of the season.
Led by centreback Mike Variso, the Never Malunga-coached Border Strikers became the third team from Beitbridge to make it into the PSL after Underhill and Triple B. The two other clubs from the border town did not last in the PSL, something Vavheneki want to avoid.
Due to ongoing work at their home ground Dulivhadzimu Stadium, the 2015 Zifa Central Region Division One champions will conduct their training sessions at Beitbridge District Club with over 30 players fancying their chances.
Club executive chairman Jabulani Ndou said they will only have an idea of their final squad for their maiden appearance in top flight football after a week.
“A lot of players are coming through, some we called while some are coming on their own. We have not released any players, we are expecting over 30 players to start training,’’ said Ndou.
Strikers’ public relations officer Raniel Ndou said they had not discarded any of the players who got Vavheneki promoted, but were looking to strengthen their squad with experienced players.
“Border Strikers are working on preparations to make sure that the maiden season becomes a success. We are currently keeping the whole squad, but we are looking forward to beef it up with players who have PSL exposure as they may assist the team to adapt to PSL challenges. We also look forward to keeping the current technical team. Our hope is that by end of January 2016 we should be having a full squad having started training,’’ said Raniel.
Former Chicken Inn striker Tendai Mukambi is the most high profile player at the club with his previous PSL experience.
Chairman Jabulani said the board of trustees will meet to deliberate on a number of issues including that of the coach and see if there was a need to reinforce the technical department.
Border Strikers join Chapungu and FC Platinum as the third team from the Central Region.
The Beitbridge Town Council is busy sprucing up Dulivhadzimu with work mainly concentrated on planting grass where there were patches on the pitch and putting up new structures at the terraces. Underhill and Tripple B had to play some of their home big matches in Masvingo and Zvishavane because Dulivhadzimu could not meet PSL standards. However, Border Strikers are determined to play all their home fixtures in Beitbridge, and they are working with the Beitbridge council to ensure that becomes a reality.
“Border Strikers is a community team. With the support of the Board of Trustees the team should survive financially. We are also in the process of finalising our budget for the upcoming season. Beitbridge Town Council has started the renovations of Dulivhadzimu Stadium. Our aim is to play all our home games at Dulivhadzimu Stadium,’’ said Raniel.
The team enjoys support from the Beitbridge community, council secretary Loud Ramakgapola, the club patron and the Maxwell Ngwenya the chairman of the board of trustees.
This means that there is no major benefactor with financial contributions to the club coming from a number of stakeholders in Beitbridge.
Border Strikers was formed in 1982 as a social soccer team by a group of likeminded people who were employees of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the Vehicle Inspection Depot, Department of Immigration and clearing agents. The club eventually became a community team when most of the founding members were transferred from Beitbridge to other areas.
In 2002 Border Strikers were promoted into Division One where they plied their trade until they were unceremoniously expelled in 2012 for failing to fulfil fixtures due to financial challenges.
The club was revived last year by a group of businessmen based in the border town.
Border Strikers secured the Zifa Central Region Division One title in September when they were automatically awarded three points after their opponents Sable Chemicals failed to travel to Beitbridge.