Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Royal Cup that was set to feature Bulawayo giants Highlanders and Manzini Wanderers of Swaziland is off after the latter complained that the organisers had kept them guessing.
The tournament seems to have suffered a stillbirth due to rampant confusion.
It has emerged that the organisers are yet to get clearance from the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), Zifa and the PSL to have the pre-season game played on Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium as they had planned.
Manzini Wanderers’ general manager Patrick Gamedze told Chronicle Sport in a telephone interview from his Swazi base that they were in the dark about the tournament’s date.
He was surprised that the organisers had set March 19 as the date for their clash with Highlanders. Gamedze said even if the tournament organisers get clearances today, it will be impossible for them to travel to Bulawayo this weekend.
“As a club, we got an invitation to participate in the Royal Cup whose match was supposed to have been February 26, but the organisers are yet to communicate with us on the new date so that we secure clearance from Swaziland authorities. We told them that we’re interested to come and play in Zimbabwe and what we need is to be told while there is enough time so that we make logistical arrangements, get cleared by the PSL and the national FA,” said Gamedze.
“Please get me right, we really want to come and play in Zimbabwe, but since you’re saying the date for the game is Sunday, it is impossible for us to travel even if we get the organisers’ invitation because of the facts I’ve highlighted,” he said.
Royal Cup organisers should take the blame for the confusion surrounding the proposed encounter.
Highlanders will be involved in the ZNA Charity Shield final against Caps United on March 26 in Bulawayo.
The local Premiership season kicks off on April 1.
Royal Cup Trust chief executive officer Nkosilathi Ndiweni tried to put on a brave face, saying they are working round the clock to have their competition played.
“We are working flat out to have the Royal Cup succeed. We’re hoping to have everything in order today (yesterday). I believe that if we have all the relevant documents ready today the game can go ahead,” said Ndiweni.
Asked if he is aware that March 19 is the only date that Highlanders have before the start of the season, Ndiweni said: “I don’t know what that technically implies, but we’re working flat-out to have the Royal Cup going through.”
Besides failing to get cleared by SRC, Zifa and PSL, organisers of the Royal Cup have also failed to meet Highlanders’ demands to deposit $7 000 into their coffers for them to commit to play the Swazi outfit. Royal Cup organisers had said the men’s winners were going to take home $10 000 with the losers walking away with $7 000, while winners of the women’s match, which was meant to curtain raise the men’s game, were set to get $5 000 and the losers $3 000.