Tadious Manyepo in HARARE and Osca Rusenga in CHIREDZI
HARARE City captain Tendai Samanja has predicted a tough battle against Triangle in the Chibuku Super Cup final at Gibbo this afternoon.
Although Samanja remains confident the holders will come out tops and make it a hat-trick of Chibuku titles, he urged his teammates to retain maximum concentration against a plucky Lowveld side who has given a good account of themselves in all competitions this season.
Harare City will make it a third Chibuku Super Cup triumph if they manage to find a way past Triangle, having won the tournament in 2015 and 2017.
But, their veteran skipper knows the terrain well and warned the match will not be a walk in the park.
“It’s not going to be an easy game but we are ready for the challenge against Triangle. We have an exciting group of players who are capable of winning the trophy for the team,” said Samanja.
For the past four years, the trophy has been won by the team playing at home.
FC Platinum won the trophy at their Mandava turf in 2014, while Ngezi did the same at Baobab in 2016, a feat sandwiched by Harare City’s success story in 2015 and 2017 at Rufaro.
But, the former Monomotapa and CAPS United midfield general says his team are not looking much onto that this afternoon.
The Sunshine City Boys recovered from an early penalty setback to level their league match against the same opponents at the same venue some few weeks ago.
“Cup games are cup games. We struggled against Triangle in the league when we visited them but look this is a cup final where stakes are very high. It will be even tougher.
“We are playing a Chibuku Super Cup final for the fourth time and we should have an edge over our opponents in terms of how to approach the match but they are also playing on their home turf.
“At the end of the day, it will come down to who shows more character than the other. It’s a game of wits where a team which plays better than the other on the afternoon will grab the crown.
“We are almost at a same level with our opponents. If you look at Harare City player by player they are a good unit so is Triangle.
“We are in for an exciting game of football. But, we have an obligation of defending the cup which we have in our own cabinet. We are not putting ourselves under any pressure to deliver the cup home but what we should do is play with heart to try and defend it,’’ Samanja said.
Winners of the cup will earn the right to represent the country in the 2019-2020 CAF Confederation Cup and Samanja is relishing that prospect.
“Remember winning the cup comes with a big incentive of playing in the CAF Confederation Cup next season. Who doesn’t want to be exposed in those competitions? We have to play our hearts out, play for the Harare City badge and try to be as aggressive as we can to win the match.
“Basically, we are expecting a tough ride, and I also think Triangle are expecting the same. We need to be cleverer on the ball than Triangle.”
Harare City accounted for Bulawayo City in the first round, shrugged off Highlanders in the quarter-final before dumping CAPS United in the semi-final to book a date against the TSuga Sugar Boys.
Taurai Mangwiro’s men travelled a route that had Shabanie, Chapungu and Dynamos on their way to the final.
This will be the first time for Chiredzi’s home of football — Gibbo — to host a major cup final and even it’s choice as the venue of this year’s edition has raised some questions.
While Harare City have won Chibuku Super Cup twice, Triangle also won the NetOne One Wallet Cup in 2014 and for good measure, they beat their opponents this afternoon in the semi-final of that competition at Gibbo.
Goalkeeper Ronald Mudimu was the hero in that encounter, saving two spot-kicks, including one from Phineas Bamusi who is expected to spearhead Triangle’s attack alongside soccer star prospect Nhamo Lameck.
Gibbo is not one of the biggest stadia in the country, but has arguably the best pitch and Triangle groundsman Richard Mudindiro has done his best to make sure the final will be played on an excellent surface.
Despite its size, Gibbo has only been filled to its capacity when Triangle played against Hippo Valley FC in a local derby that was decisive in determining who was going to be promoted to the top-flight in 2012, when legendary late Triangle coach Gishon Ntini was still in charge.
Taku Shariwa was in charge of the opponents, but Ntini came out victorious.
Triangle will be without the duo of Praise Tonha and Rodwell Mhlanga, who have been ruled out through injuries, but Mangwiro believes the players he has at his disposal will do the job.
“We are all delighted to have got to the finals and we pray that we go on to win the prestigious trophy.
“It’s a first for the Lowveld to play hosts of a cup final and we urge our fans to come in numbers to play their part in spurring on the team.
“As a team, we are aware of the threat that the defending champions will pose to us, but we have prepared well as it is our wish to not only win the trophy, but also to book the ticket to play in the Confederation Cup.
“We are one victory from ensuring at least a top 4 finish in the league and winning the cup will ensure we finish the season with some silverware, which will not be a mean achievement. We strive to grow the Hullets brand as a way of paying back for the sound sponsorship we have”, he said.