Eight football games have been lined up on Saturday and on Sunday in the first round of the $1 million Mbada Diamonds Cup. Our reporters give you briefs on the matches.
Chicken Inn/Kiglon (Mucheke)
Ambitious Premiership newcomers Chicken Inn travel to Masvingo where they take on struggling Kiglon in the preliminary round of the Mbada Cup 2011 at Mucheke Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Drumstick Special Boys are riding on the glory of holding Premiership log leaders Motor Action with a 1-1 draw in Harare last Saturday.
Chicken Inn drew first blood with a goal from Evans Chikwaikwai at Motor Action Sports Club.
Coach Philani “Beefy” Ncube has to win this afternoon to advance to next stage where in the event of victory, he meets the winner between Highlanders and Zimbabwe Saints who will also be battling it out in Hwange on Saturday afternoon.
It will be Chicken Inn’s first cup tournament in the league.
Kiglon coach Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe is on record saying his priority is not on the cup, but surviving relegation.
Hwange/Shooting Stars (Barbourfields)
Inconsistent Hwange meet Shooting Stars in the first round of tournament at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Hwange beat Black Mambas 1-0 at the Colliery with a goal from Malvern Longwe and have not been playing their normal game in the recent past.
The coal miners have previously said they are comfortable playing at Barbourfields Stadium, which they say is their second home.
Coach Tenant Chilumba has in camp veteran Gilbert Zulu, Tongai Mangwendere, Longwe and young Fransisco Zvikumbaire.
Also at Chipangano is Zambian Kennedy Kashema and inspirational goalkeeper Timothy Sibanda.
Shooting Stars are fighting relegation and are in position three from the bottom on the log standings.
FC Platinum vs Black Mambas (Gibbo)
Things have not been rosy for the Rahman Gumbo-coached Platinum outfit in the last five outings as they have failed to record a single win in the Premiership.
This is the one of their two chances for a silverware this season — the other being the league title where they are joint leaders with Motor Action.
They have an array of stars, ranging from Charles Sibanda, Zephaniah and Joel Ngodzo to Thabani Kamusoko, Benjamin Marere and Donald Ngoma, but the results are just not coming.
On the other hand, Mambas are quite capable of causing an upset as cup games have to produce a winner after 90 minutes or there will be the dreaded penalty shootout.
Motor Action v Monomotapa (Sakubva)
Motor Action have said they want to claim the tag “Cup Kings” of local football by winning all the cup competitions around. Already, they have won the BancABC trophy after beating Highlanders.
Tomorrow, the Mighty Bulls will lock horns with Monomotapa at Sakubva Stadium, in a repeat of the BancABC quarter-final when Motor Action ran away winners at the same venue.
Motor Action chief of protocol Simeone Jamanda was bullish ahead of the “Clash of the Champions”. He said the league champions would make a clean sweep of all the trophies on offer this year and claim the Cup Kings tag which he said is vacant.
2009 league champions Monoz have failed to beat their rivals in three attempts this season, thus will be looking to break that trend.
Blue Ribbon v Shabanie Mine (Ascot)
This is a battle of the Premier League’s so-called lightweights. Shabanie will be returning to Ascot Stadium, a venue where they beat Gunners in the BancABC quarter-finals early this year.
The two teams are seemingly struggling in the league with Blue Ribbon, who have been huffing and puffing standing at 9th position on the log while Shabanie Mine sit on top of the four teams that are facing the ignominy of relegation this season.
Under normal circumstances this
could have been one of those games, but with the prospect of winning a cool $75 000 prize money in mind, an explosive match is surely on the cards.
Having said that, Shabanie will be hoping the Ascot Stadium fortunes will be smiling on them once more.
Gunners v Masvingo United (Nyamhunga)
Kariba’s Nyamhunga Stadium will for the first time have a taste of Premiership football when Gunners and Masvingo United converge on the tourist town.
A rejuvenated Gunners team will come into the match with their tails up after a 5-1 hammering of Monomotapa last week in a Premier League match.
Gunners chief operations manager Wellington Mpandare has said his team is looking beyond this fixture.
Masvingo United on the other hand will travel more than 700 kilometres to the match venue and in an attempt to minimise player fatigue, the team left their base on Thursday and had a stopover in Harare before resuming their long journey to Kariba on Saturday.
Dynamos vs Caps United (NSS)
Dynamos striker Cuthbert Malajila has been declared fit for the first-round clash against city rivals Caps United at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The player has been struggling with a groin injury he picked up in the 4-0 drubbing of Zimbabwe Saints last Sunday and there were strong fears that he might miss the match.
Dynamos assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya said the striker has been included in the final 18-man squad.
The Green Machine have left no stone unturned ahead of the match and this week recalled striker Evans Gwekwerere, who has been on trial with South African giants Orlando Pirates for Sunday’s match.