MANDAVA Stadium is ready to explode into action tomorrow afternoon when FC Platinum and Shabanie Mine clash in what is arguably the biggest of the Mbada Diamonds football quarter-final encounters lined up this weekend.
REPORT BY EPHRAIM SHOKO SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Shabanie and Platinum share one of the greatest and most exciting rivalries in domestic football and that makes the match a must-watch for any football fanatic regardless of affiliation.
Shabanie Mine have not beaten Platinum since the platinum miners gained promotion into topflight football in 2011. The two teams have met three times and Platinum have triumphed twice with one match ending in a draw.
Platinum’s two wins were recorded last season when Shabanie Mine had an indifferent season fighting the chop right to the last match, while Shabanie forced a 2-2 draw in this season’s first leg league encounter.
This season Shabanie Mine are a different outfit all together playing a better brand of football and at one point challenged for pole position on the log. FC Platinum are quite aware of the challenge that awaits them tomorrow.
“We are quite aware that Shabanie Mine are playing well this season. We drew in our first clash where they came from behind, but that should not fool us into believing that we have an upper hand. We are ready for them and yes, we want to win the match and progress to the next stage of the competition,” said Philemon Muvengwa, Platinum spokesperson.
Muvengwa added that morale was high in camp with no injury worries stalking his side.
“The doctors are assessing Simon Shoko and he could be certified fit and available for selection. The other players are fit considering that we did not play last weekend. This is one of the two derbies left in the country and moral is quite high in camp,” he said.
Shabanie Mine coach Luke Masomere’s only worry is Blessing Mbavarira who picked up an injury during their 1-0 loss to Highlanders.
Masomere is, however, confident that his side will put up a strong fight to progress to the next round of the tournament as well as claiming the bragging rights in the mineral rich town.
“Obviously we are aiming for a win. We have to progress to the next stage of the tournament. There is a lot at stake in this match and the players are quite aware of it and psychologically they are prepared. We have not beaten them yes, but everything has a beginning and come Saturday (tomorrow) we will record our first win against them,” said Masomere.
On the other hand, Platinum caretaker coach Tendai Chikuni will also be seeking his first win over Shabanie.
Call it a crunch derby, clash of the titans or use any other superlative that suits you to describe the match, the fact remains this is one of the biggest clashes on the country’s football calendar.