MUTARE-Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Eastern Region vice chairperson Wisdom Simba says all is set for the 2023 Eastern Region Soccer League (ERSL) Division 1, which roars into life this weekend. Sixteen teams have confirmed their participation.
The ERSL 2023 season will see the participation of new teams. New boys from Mashonaland East Province will be Hunters FC. In Masvingo Province, the new kid on the block is Bikita Minerals FC, while newcomers in Manicaland are the Rusape-based side, Midaway FC and Chimanimani-based Rusitu Tigers FC.
The region will also welcome PSL-relegated side Tenax FC from Mutare. Tenax FC, Rusitu Tigers FC and the Luke Masomere-coached Mutare City Rovers are the favourites to gain promotion into the Premier Soccer League.
Former Buffaloes defender-turned-football administrator, Simba, said the clubs are almost 100 per cent in terms of affiliation and registration fees. He added that the league, which was supposed to kick off last weekend, failed because the grounds were not ready.
“We had set last weekend as the kick-off date for our league, but when we inspected the grounds, we noticed that almost 50 per cent of the grounds were not ready to host matches.
“The teams are left with final touches before we do the final inspection. We are ready to go as only five teams are yet to affiliate fully. We welcome new teams–Rusitu Tigers FC, Midway FC, Hunters FC and returnees Bikita Minerals FC,” he said.
Simba said Bikita Minerals replaced Chisase FC, which had gained promotion from Masvingo Province after the new boys failed to meet the deadline for affiliation fees. Chivhu FC failed to meet the requirements and will not be part of the ERSL.
“We are expecting fireworks this season. Everybody is geared up for the 2023 season. There is no small team this season since every team has been preparing very well. We have also reverted to our soccer season, which starts and ends the same year, unlike last season, which started in 2021 and ended in 2022,” he added.
Week 1 fixture
Ruwa vs Tenax, Rusitu Tigers vs Midway, JM Busha vs Masvingo United, Mutare City vs Grayham, Manica Diamonds Juniors vs Renco, Bikita Minerals vs Buffaloes, Mazodze vs FC Hunters and Chiredzi Stars vs Surrey.