Ray Bande Senior Reporter
THE country’s Premiership knockout football competition – the Chibuku Super Cup – which has never seen a single match being played on Manicaland soil since its return on the radar in 2014, gets underway this weekend with Manica Diamonds seeking to perform a smash and grab act that might see them emulate fellow Eastern Region outfit Triangle FC.
Manica Diamonds, who outplayed Chicken Inn in a recent Premiership League match away in Bulawayo, will once again travel to the City of Kings and Queens for a date against the Gamecocks on Sunday at Luveve Stadium for the first round tie of the 2019 Chibuku Super Cup.
Given that teams in the top eight of the log standing at the time of the draw a seeded and automatically earn the right to play host, clubs based in Manicaland have not been able to host not even a single Chibuku Super Cup match. None among Buffaloes, Mutare City Rovers or even now Manica Diamonds have been in the top eight of the log standings at the time of the draw while in the past Buffaloes and Mutare City have not been able to go past the first round possibly for them to have hosted a match in the Chibuku Super Cup tournament.
Be that as it may, Manica Diamonds are no underdogs as they come into this 2019 edition first round tie more so after an impressive and convincing 2-0 triumph over the same opponents at the same venue a fortnight ago.
Cruising past the Gamecocks will obviously boost the Gem Boys’ hopes of going all the way to the final and emulate their regional counterparts Tringale FC. The Sugar Boys snatched the Chibuku Super Cup last season and earned the right to represent the nation in the 2019/2020 continental Confederations Cup tournament.
Triangle United beat Harare City 2-0 to lift the 2018 Chibuku Super Cup for the first time in their history at Gibbo Stadium.
The victory also gave coach Taurai Mangwiro’ his second medal in the competition following the 2015 triumph with Harare City.
This is the reason Manica Diamonds caretaker coach Johannes “The Dutch Mentor” Nhumwa believes it can be achieved.
“The Chibuku Super Cup match against Chicken Inn on Sunday will not be an easy one for both teams. It is a tricky encounter that I think can go either way. We have been preparing for this match diligently and we hope we will get the result that we want. It is obvious that we want to win it and progress in the tournament,” he said.
Nhumwa said his team is capable of getting to the final match of the competition.
“We believe we can achieve it. After all Cup games are different from league matches. The approach to Cup games is different. In fact the prize money in it pushes players to perform much more. Apart from the prize money the prospects of playing in the Confederation Cup is enough motivation for every player.
“Our hope is that we will reach the final and possibly win the tournament. There is nothing on paper that suggests we cannot achieve it. I am fully aware that the first round match will be guerilla warfare of some sort so we are fully prepared for that,” said Nhumwa.
The former Masvingo United gaffer said he is not reading too much into the league match against Chicken Inn which they won 2-0.
“We played Chicken Inn and won 2-0 but I am fully aware that Sunday’s match will be a different ball game altogether. Like I said the hunger, the zeal and everything is different. Therefore, it would be foolhardy for me to think that Sunday’s match will be a stroll in the park simply because we overcame the same team in a league match,” he said.
Elsewhere in the tournament, the 2019 Chibuku Super Cup is set for an explosive start with some tasty fixtures lined up in the first round. A mouthwatering Chibuku Super Cup first round will see giants Dynamos host arch-rivals Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday in what is easily the headline fixture of the opening round of the this year’s edition of the tournament.
Zimbabwean football’s two biggest clubs, Highlanders and Dynamos have been experiencing contrasting fortunes in the league this season with the former sitting just one point above the relegation zone while the latter is on a 11 match unbeaten streak in position six in the league. Another interesting first round tie pits Lloyd Chitembwe’s new side Harare City against his former paymasters CAPS United in what is expected to be an exciting double header at the National Sports Stadium on Saturday where Black Rhinos and TelOne clash in the first match.
In the other Chibuku Super Cup fixtures set for this weekend, Ngezi Platinum host Mushowani Stars at Baobab Stadium on Saturday (tomorrow), the same day ZPC Kariba take on Hwange at Nyamhunga. Defending champions Triangle and FC Platinum will not feature in the first round ties scheduled for this weekend due to their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup and CAF Champions League, respectively.
Triangle were set to host Herentals FC while league champions FC Platinum are set to play bogey side Chapungu at Mandava.
Sponsor Delta Beverages have committed $1, 5 million to the staging of the this year’s Chibuku Super Cup in which the winner of the tournament earns the ticket to represent the country in the 2020/2021 CAF Confederation Cup.
Chibuku Super Cup 1st Round Fixtures:
Saturday: Black Rhinos v TelOne (National Sports Stadium, 1 pm), CAPS United v Harare City (National Sports Stadium), Ngezi Platinum v Mushowani Stars (Baobab Stadium), ZPC Kariba v Hwange (Nyamhunga Stadium):
Sunday: Dynamos v Highlanders (National Sports Stadium); Chicken Inn v Manica Diamonds (Luveve Stadium):
Postponed: FC Platinum vs Chapungu (TBA), Triangle United v Herentals (TBA):
All games kickoff at 3 pm unless stated: