Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
AMBITIOUS Southern Region Division One soccer league side Makomo have added veteran coach Rahman Gumbo to their technical team as they seek to challenge for a direct ticket to the Premiership.
Makomo finished third last season behind champions Bulawayo Chiefs and runners-up ZPC Hwange.
Makomo, named after their coal mining company owners, are based in Hwange and the roping in of Gumbo, whose contract with former Premiership champions Chicken Inn ended last year, is an indication that they are angling for the title.
Tinashe Mupunga, Makomo’s treasurer and acting chief executive officer, confirmed that they had engaged Gumbo.
“It’s true that we’ve done a deal with Gumbo and he is with us. I can only tell you more about the engagement and our plans for the season tomorrow,” said Mupunga.
Gumbo takes over from Mebelo Njekwa, who moved back to Hwange FC to assist Nation Dube at the former Premiership side that was relegated to the First Division at the end of last season.
With multiple topflight championships won at Highlanders at the turn of the millennium, Malawi and Botswana, Gumbo, who also led Chicken Inn to a top four finish last season behind champions FC Platinum, Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum Stars, should expect a tough First Division campaign.
The former national team coach also had stints with local clubs, Shooting Stars, Caps United, Motor Action and FC Platinum.
He is familiar with demands of the First Division having worked with Bulawayo Chiefs in 2013 when he was the club’s technical director, while Thulani Sibanda was coach. During that season, Chiefs went on to win the title.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Southern Region Division One league promises to be more competitive than last season when Bulawayo Chiefs ran away with the title by mid-season.
The pre-season favourites Hwange, who are eager for an early return to the Premiership, as well as Tsholotsho FC, perennial campaigners and last season’s runners-up ZPC Hwange, Makomo and Bulawayo-based Talen Vision are expected to put up a strong challenge in the title race.
Army side Indlovu Iyanyathela, Zim Leopards, Bosso 90 and new boys Toronto FC of Pumula East also can’t be ruled out.