There could not have been a bigger start to the
$1 million Mbada Diamonds Cup than to witness Dynamos and Caps United clashing in the opening round of the richest football knockout competition at the National Sports Stadium (NSS) on Sunday.
Fine, there have been few questions on why Dynamos and Caps United are not travelling while the other 14 teams will be on the road with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) stating the NSS is the only venue capable of hosting the two.
Obviously that is rather misleading, the two teams could easily have been fixtured to play at the 26 000-seater Barbourfields with Gunners and Masvingo moving to Sakubva and Motor Action and Monomotapa in Nyamhunga.
That would have ensured fairness by having all teams on the road.
Highlanders secretary Andrew Tapela on Tuesday said Bosso had no problem playing Zimbabwe Saints at the Colliery, but were taken aback by the Dynamos-Caps United fixture.
“There are 16 teams in the league and we have played all of them. We can play any team anywhere and the draw is according to the sponsor and the competition. We have acceded to the rules and regulations of both. But we are, however, surprised why Dynamos and Caps United have to play in Harare. We are saying if it is spreading the game, then people in Gwanda, Mutorashanga or even Kariba would like to see Dynamos and Caps United. If we were supposed to play in neutral venues, it should have been everybody. As for us, we can play anywhere against anyone and we do not have any problem,” Tapela said.
PSL chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele defended the sponsors for having the Dynamos-Caps match played in Harare saying there was no stadium in the country that would accommodate the expected crowd for the tie.
“It is going to be a big match and there is a lot at stake. It is a derby. Remember that winners of this tournament will represent the country in Africa. There are no stadiums that can host a match of this kind. In their first league match, 27 000 fans attended and in the second there were
26 000. We have committed ourselves to safety and security and we are sure all other stadia would not carry that crowd. We are expecting a big crowd and that is the logic,” Ndebele said.
Saints secretary Caleb Sengu, whose club has lost back-to-back in the league to Bosso, said they had no choice but to adhere to the sponsors.
“We have got no choice. It is a cup game and we have played there before,” Sengu said.
While the cup organisers missed that issue, there is no doubt that an explosive start to the competition is in the offing on Sunday.
What makes it even more interesting is that the country’s most successful clubs, Dynamos and Highlanders, could watch the rest of the tournament from the stands if they lose in the first round, or could meet in the final.
On the other hand, Saints and Caps United could also meet in the final if they survive the first and subsequent rounds.
Caps United welcome Dynamos to the NSS having managed two wins, a draw and a loss in the four games that returning coach, Lloyd Chitembwe, has been in charge, the last being a commendable 1-1 away draw to co-leaders FC Platinum over the weekend.
This will be the third meeting of the two clubs, with Dynamos having the psychological advantage having won the two league matches 1-0 and 2-1.
New Dynamos coach Callisto Pasuwa is unbeaten in four games. He has seen his charges leap to one point behind Motor Action and Platinum, on 42 points.
So the Green Machine, without a trophy since the controversial BancABC Sup8r win over Lengthens three years ago, go into the tie seeking not only their first piece of silverware, but also revenge over Dynamos.
Mbada Diamond Cup first round fixtures:
Motor Action v Monoz (Sakubva), FC Platinum v Black Mambas (Gibbor), Dynamos v Caps United (NSS), Highlanders v Zimbabwe Saints (Colliery), Chicken Inn v Kiglon (Mucheke), Hwange v Shooting Stars (Tbc), Gunners v Masvingo United (Nyamhunga), Blue Ribbon v Shabanie (Ascot)
(Tbc-To be confirmed)