CHAMPIONSHIP contenders Highlanders and Dynamos shift focus to the Mbada Diamonds Cup this weekend hoping to march on to the semi-finals of the country’s richest knock-out tournament.
REPORT BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
The Premiership had taken a break as the country rallied behind the Warriors, who were up against Angola for the right to play at next year’s African Cup of Nations finals in South Africa.
And, with the Warriors now out of the continental soccer showcase following a 2-0 defeat to Angola, it’s back to the Mbada Diamonds Cup.
Highlanders face off in-form Monomotapa in one of the quarter-final clashes at the Colliery in Hwange hoping to erase sad memories of their last meeting in the league in which they were beaten 3-0, their first defeat in the league which ended a 23-match unbeaten run.
“Bosso” whose players boycotted training last week over outstanding payments in winning bonuses, need to put that setback behind as they face “Monoz” if they are to go through to the last four of the tournament.
They received $50 000 from a well-wisher on Friday and will get another $15 000 from BancABC as part of a reward for finishing in the last eight last week.
Defending champions Dynamos will also be up against a tricky Gunners side for the battle of the last four at Torwood Stadium in Kwekwe.
Kalisto Pasuwa’s men, who defeated Motor Action in last year’s final, will be hoping to brush aside Gunners as they target a place in the final. After struggling against lowly Quelaton before advancing to the last eight of the tournament on penalties, they are aware of the threat posed by Gunners, who are now under the guidance of Moses Chunga. This is because Chunga’s men are staring relegation in the face and will be eager to make up for their lacklustre show in the league by at least reaching the final.
Former Cup Kings, Caps United, have a tough fixture against army side Buffaloes at Gibbo Stadium in Chiredzi.
Caps, who appear to have discovered a winning formula, as they push for a top-eight finish in the league, believe they can claim their status as “Cup Kings” and have expressed confidence of laying their hands on the Mbada Diamonds Cup to appease their success-starved fans, who had been hoping for championship glory at the beginning of the season before they found themselves fighting relegation.
Goalkeepers’ coach Brenna Msiska, however, is wary of Buffaloes. “They are a very strong side. They are playing well. It will be difficult, but we are confident of progressing to the next round,” said Msiska.
Luke Masomere’s Shabanie Mine face off neighbours FC Platinum in another quarter-final clash at Mandava Stadium which promises fireworks.
Masomere insisted the pairing against neighbours was what they had been praying for. “It’s a good pairing. We have always wanted to meet them. They might not be getting positive results now, but they play good football and we have to be well prepared for them,” he said.
FC Platinum, whose form has dipped of late, stormed into the quarter-final stage after kicking out Harare City while Shabanie advanced at the expense of Hwange.