By Tadious Manyepo and Melissa Mutasa
HARARE City Hornets coach Langton Moyo has acknowledged power forward Tatenda Maturure’s mid-season departure to HLF Raiders has weakened his club but remains confident his table-topping side will still manage to defend the Harare Basketball Association League title.
Point guard Nathan Warikandwa also left the city council-owned club to join 3rd placed Foxes during the break but it is Maturure’s loss that has left Moyo a worried man.
Maturure, who is arguably the best player in the HBA this season will line up for Raiders when the season resumes this weekend hoping to play a pivotal role to try and inspire the Ngoni Mukukula-coached side who are stuck in the middle of the table.
And Moyo, whose team had been built around the powerful national team player is sweating over the departure of his most trusted asset despite roping in the services of Brian Pepukai from JBC.
“We lost one of our best players, Tatenda Maturure and Nathan Warikandwa to Raiders and Foxes respectively during this mid-season break. I have to be honest on that one. This has shaken our club but such is the nature of the game. Players keep on moving to try other avenues and test their strengths in different environments.
“I personally wish them well. We have on our part taken Pepukai (Brian) who was playing for JBC in the first half of the season. Despite the departure of Maturure and Warikandwa which I should admit is a blow, I still believe my team has enough arsenal to defend the title we won last season.
“Winning the title is going to be tough but that is our aim and if we fail to deliver it to our doorstep, we would have failed,” he said.
Unlike last season when Harare City Hornets had a far much wider margin on the top of the standings, it looks tough this season with Foxes, Cheetahs and JBC hot on their heels.
Foxes are actually walking with an elastic step after winning the Lesotho Charity Invitational tournament in Maseru last December.
Actually they have played a game less than Hornets and their mentor Kelvin Ben reckons this season should be theirs.
“We have beefed up our squad taking in Warikandwa from City Hornets. We are also finalizing deals for a couple of players we hope will add value to our set-up.
“My players are also very confident they would do it after winning the regional tournament staged in Lesotho last month. We are aiming at winning the league title although it is tricky since several teams are also having an eye on the same,” he said.