MONOMOTAPA edged closer to the Caf Confederation Cup on Sunday when Caps United fell 3-0 to Dynamos in the semi-finals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup.
REPORT BY WELLINGTON TONI SPORTS EDITOR
The final between Dynamos and Monomotapa will be played on Saturday, November 25 in Harare. The venue is yet to be decided.
Earlier on Saturday, “Monoz” had beaten FC Platinum 1-0 at Sakubva Stadium in the first semi-final after Kuda Musharu poked home just after the second half had started. Playing in the Confederation Cup comes with a $150 000 subsidy from Mbada Diamonds.
If Caps United had beaten Dynamos, then the “Green Machine” and Monoz, who are fourth on the log with Platinum, Shabanie Mine, Buffaloes and Motor Action keeping a close watch, were going to battle for the Confederation Cup slots.
With Highlanders — in second place on the log — banned from Caf competitions after a Zifa boob last year, Chicken Inn, who are third, are also closer to the Caf Confederation safari.
Dynamos have already qualified for the Champions League whether they finish first or second and even if they win the Mbada Diamonds Cup, they will likely opt for the more rewarding top-tier African club competition like they did this year after winning the league and cup double in 2011.
It was the same scenario last year as Motor Action, who were already third on the log, were confirmed as the second team in the Confederation Cup despite losing 1-0 to Dynamos in the final while the first slot had been taken by Hwange, who had finished the season in fourth place.
Dynamos were joined in the Champions League by FC Platinum, who finished second. Platinum still have a chance to return to the African campaign as well if they win their remaining two matches against Highlanders tomorrow and Black Mambas on Saturday and finish on 51 points.
That, however, depends on how Chicken Inn and Monoz will fare in their last two matches as well. Adam Ndlovu’s side host Caps tomorrow at Luveve and will be in Harare for their last game against Gunners.
Caf had maintained Zimbabwe’s two slots in the two competitions, but Highlanders, who are facing a three-year ban after pulling out of the competition after the draw had been made, will not be replaced as the third-placed team cannot play in the Champions League.
Zifa has written to Caf over Highlanders since the national association was at fault when they registered the Bulawayo giants without consent after they had indicated they had no funds to play in Africa.
Monomotapa reached the last group stages of the 2009 Champions League under Rodwell Dhlakama after they had won the league the previous season.
At Sakubva on Saturday, Monomotapa turned on the power in the second half dominating the struggling Platinum midfield and central defence. What worsened the situation was that Norman Togara struggled with his game while Joel Ngodzo, their star man in the last few games, was also off colour.
Striker Donald Ngoma was kept under lock and key by Monoz defender Jimmy Tigere while Charles Sibanda and Allen Gahadzikwa did not make the expected impact when brought in in the second half.
Monoz were thankful to man-of-the-match and goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi who threw himself at everything thrown at him in the second half and Ronald Chitiyo, who kept Thabani Kamusoko chasing the ball. Kamusoko was red-carded after the match for foul language aimed at referee Philani Ncube.
The performance by Monoz was not like anything seen in their last two matches they lost against Gunners (1-0) and Dynamos (2-1) within a space of five days. They were a better team, stringing passes like they always do, despite the bumpy pitch.
In fact, those lost six points could have taken them to 53 points and third place had they played with the same zeal like they did at Ascot.
Monoz coach Biggie Zuze said they were eager to play in Africa.
“The guys are looking forward to play in the continental showcase because they need exposure. This a big chance for them,” he said.
“Our aim now is retain third position on the log standings and we are going to play Harare City on Wednesday (tomorrow) and the Buffaloes on Sunday and we are hopeful that we are going to win, but it will not be a stroll in the park.”
The match came with its casualties for Monoz as Mukandi suffered a back injury, Chitiyo a rib knock while Osbourne Mukuradare and Morgan Mungombe had ankle knocks.