Tadious Manyepo and Takudzwa Chitsiga
CRANBORNE Bullets on Saturday became the first team to be promoted into the Premiership for the 2020 football season with three games to spare.
While it was written all over that the army team would get promoted given the inconsistent performances from rivals, it was the manner in which Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera’s side did it in the Northern Region Division One this year.
The former Black Rhinos gaffer had a group of “misfits” rejected mainly by Premiership side Black Rhinos on his roster.
Right at the start of the season, Black Rhinos coach Herbert Maruwa dropped several of his players to pave the way for new recruits.
The dumped players include Milton Kureva, Nesbert Padzarondora, Yussuf Wasili, Kelvin Chiripawako, Douglas Mbewe, Obey Gada, Martin Mine and Shadreck Jimu.
Saruchera adopted all of them into his ambitious project at Craneborne Bullets.
In the same vein, another Premiership side Herentals dropped their goalkeeper Kudakwashe Magama and striker Everson Feremba with both finding new home at the Craneborne-based army team.
Feremba had a red-hot first half of the season and was snatched by top-tier side Ngezi Platinum Stars in the mid-season window.
He had contributed seven goals and as many assists by the time he left.
The rest of the players, deemed excess baggage at Rhinos and Herentals, remained regulars for the military side.
Speaking after the crowning moment after his charges saw off Grain Tigers 1-0 on Saturday, Saruchera said the players were good enough for Premiership football.
“It’s a good development for us. We deserved this promotion. We led right from the initial stages of the campaign and we sustained the charge up to now. It’s a result of hard work and never-say-die attitude,” said Saruchera.
The gaffer, who six years ago led Black Rhinos to promotion from the same division, praised his players.
“Of course some of these players were dropped by some clubs obviously not that they were not good enough.
“I have worked with a very impressive group of players in this campaign. All the credit goes to them. We worked hard together with them and we shared the same dream. Here we are, congratulations to the players and everyone from the top echelons of the organisation, the executive and the fans.”
Saruchera predicted tough battles in the Premiership against sister club Black Rhinos whose majority of the players were groomed at Craneborne Bullets.
Meanwhile, ZIFA Northern Region Division One League chairman Martin Kweza has hailed Cranborne Bullets for winning the championship after they edged Grain Tigers 1-0 to take their points tally to unassailable 69 on Saturday.
The army side went into the game needing nothing short of a victory to claim the championship with three games to go.
Kweza, who was elevated to the chairmanship post following the death of Willard Manyengavana in August this year, said as a region they are happy with the promotion of Cranborne Bullets into the Premier Soccer League and believes they will represent them well in the top-flight.
“And as usual we are confident that we always give the Premier Soccer League good teams as the region is one of the best. We are happy for Craneborne Bullets, they put a lot of effort and it has become a norm that our teams do not get relegated from the Premiership that easily and we expect the same from Craneborne.
“Our teams have always done well and the level of competition is very high. Winning with three games to spare does not mean that they did not have the competition but they just maximised on some teams flops which is expected.
“The good thing is that they will remain our product when they go into the Premier League.”
Kweza also lamented on how the league has been going on so far, saying it is good that the teams have fulfilled all their fixtures and they will always maintain discipline.
“All the games were fulfilled and we look forward to maintain that discipline,” added Kweza.
Saruchera knows what their situation means adding that there is a sense of great excitement in his side’s camp after their historic win on Saturday.
“Everyone is very excited to be part of this historic event . . . We only played to achieve our goal which is to gain Premiership status.
“I am humbled. It’s not a one-man effort. I am thankful to the owners of the club, executive, players, sponsors, my family, friends, our fans and other coaches. They offered their advice during the course of the season,” Saruchera said.