THIS year’s edition of the Chibuku Super Cup was launched yesterday in the capital, with the big teams kept apart after the organisers used the competition’s traditional format of seeding the top nine teams at the halfway stage of the season.
BY HENRY MHARA
The draw for the tournament was conducted at the ceremony, with the biggest match-up of the initial round being the game between Caps United and rejuvenated ZPC Kariba.
Former champions Chicken Inn are excluded from this season’s competition after they caused an abandonment of their match against Yadah last year, an offence which attracts a ban from competing in the next edition of the tournament.
Dynamos emerged the beneficiary of the ban, with the Harare giants, who were struggling at that point of the season and just outside the top nine, being subsequently promoted as one of the seeded teams.
They were reward with a clash against a tricky Bulawayo Chiefs side, who have been punching above their weight this term.
The Bulawayo side’s coach Garthly Chipuka immediately fired warning shots at Dynamos, taunting the former champions as “historical giants”.
He said Dynamos had lost its former lustre and have become an ordinary side just like most of the other teams in the league.
“This cup means a lot for us because of the financial benefits that come with it. They (DeMbare) are historical giants, the log table doesn’t lie. Every other team in the league is capable of winning the cup. All the teams except a few financially-stable, have quality so we are at the same level (with Dynamos). We have the same quality. We are ready for any team,” he said. DeMbare has been struggling and is inconsistent this season, which could have been good news for their opponents.
But Chipuka doesn’t see it that way. “It is actually a problem for us. Every time we play a team that is struggling, we also struggle. We struggle against strugglers and do well against the teams that are doing well. Personally, I would have wanted to draw FC Platinum. Given the pressure they have in winning every match, and they also have an old squad.
They have a very good side, but we have a young squad which could have been an advantage for us. Given the profile of the game, I would expect my boys to perform against an opponent like FC Platinum,” he said.
League champions and runaway log leaders FC Platinum will play the winner between Chapungu and Mutare City, who play in the preliminary round at the weekend, with the winner joining the rest of the other teams in the first round proper.
The preliminary round was necessitated by the Chicken Inn ban, which left the number of teams for the draw with an odd tally of 17. Chapungu and Mutare City were at the base of the table at the cut-off date.
First round matches start at the end of the month. But the clash of the round is the match between 2016 league champions Caps and ZPC Kariba, who have gradually picked form after a terrible start to their season.
However, Caps chief executive officer Cuthbert Chitima was not worried.
“Our prospects are very high because we are playing a team from our league. The draw was fair, we are playing a team that is not bad. They are a good team, but remember current form counts very little in cup games. We are very confident that we can go all the way to the finals. A team that is going to play well will win the match, but I am not worried by our next opponent,” Chitima said.
Ngezi Platinum, who are also gunning for the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title were handed Herentals, which on paper is a winnable match for them. Club chairperson Jeremiah Gasitene is already looking beyond the match, as he believes his side could finish the season with a league and cup double.
“I am happy with the draw, we are in a comfortable position. We are playing at home and that should give us an advantage of going to the next round. I don’t see us facing any problems with Herentals. We won’t have any hurdle of getting into the next round, it’s guaranteed for Ngezi. We still have a chance, the game is still on. We can’t lose hope at this point. We still believe in the team, they will do it. We are definitely gunning for the double.”
Defending champions and the most successful team in the tournament, Harare City, begin yet another onslaught of the title, which they have won twice since its re-introduction in 2014, with a clash against Bulawayo City.
The winner of the competition gets $75 000 and a ticket to represent the country in the Caf Confederations Cup next season.
Chapungu v Mutare City (Ascot)
First round fixtures
FC Platinum v Chapungu/Mutare City (Mandava), Ngezi Platinum v Herentals (Baobab), Caps United v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Triangle v Shabanie Mine (Gibbo), Harare City v Bulawayo City (Rufaro), Black Rhinos v Nichrut (National Sports Stadium), Dynamos v Bulawayo Chiefs (Rufaro), Highlanders v Yadah (Barbourfields)