SHABANIE Mine coach Luke Masomere is on cloud nine after his charges won the BancABC Sup8r Cup final against bitter cross-town rivals FC Platinum on Saturday in an exhilarating 120-minute tussle that was decided by a penalty lottery.
REPORT BY WELLINGTON TONI
Shabanie won 5-3 on penalties after the match had ended 0-0 after regulation and extra time to hand the former asbestos miners their first major football title since the BP League Cup in 2001.
From the $120 000 fat pay cheque that Shabanie won, they will have to part with $16 000 as they will be docked, according to Premier Soccer League standing regulations, $8 000 each for two offences of their fans throwing missiles into the field of play and pitch invasion at the final whistle.
But still $104 000 is a lot of dollars for a team that is financially struggling and with the players taking in 50% of that as rewards for the win, it will certainly help them to clear some debts and start 2014 on a sound footing.
“Everyone can smile now in Shabanie, the victory is theirs. We needed this victory more than anyone else and I feel we deserved it,” Masomere told the media after the match.
It was heartbreak for Lloyd Mutasa who had hoped to add a third trophy in the Platinum cabinet after the Bob88 and the Independence Trophy. The coach has had a good run winning two trophies at Dynamos and in Swaziland in competitions that he would have taken part in for the first time.
Masomere’s road to victory was set when he defeated Dynamos in the semi-finals at Barbourfields and while no one gave him a chance against a highly-organised and well-paid Platinum, the writing was on the wall from the start.
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Last Saturday, Shabanie Mine fans slaughtered a beast in the Zvishavane town to celebrate the impending victory and a week later, their dreams came true.
A carnival atmosphere hit the city early Saturday morning with the main street full of hooting cars draped in the maroon colours of Shabanie Mine. At the match venue the fans occupied three-quarters of the stadium and easily drowned their counterparts waving green and gold flags.
On the field of play, there was no doubt that Shabanie were the hungrier of the two sides and Mutasa seemed to have lost the plot in his team selection.
A derby has its own players and when you don’t play big name characters like Joel Ngodzo, bench Mitchelle Katsvairo, Obrey Chirwa and Allen Gahadzikwa, you simply pay the price.
While Charles Sibanda could not produce his usual magic, it was only necessary for Mutasa to add Ngodzo to his team since the defence had enough protection from Thabani Kamusoko and Winston Mhango.
But he opted to bring in Marshal Mudehwe for Welcome Ndiweni when it was clear Shabanie had the upper hand.
Masomere, on the other hand, did not take any chances — he put his best 11 with the hustling Caleb Masocha, Tarisai Rukanda and skipper Tafadzwa Mombeshora towering over their opponents.
After Mutasa had pulled out Sibanda, Masomere added pace to his attack by bringing in Valentine Ndaba and Fungai Chirinda in a double substitution to kill off the game.
While that failed, his intentions were clear — Platinum were tiring on the wings and he wanted to stretch them further.
Warriors coach Ian Gorowa sat with his assistant Jairos Tapera, taking notes as a number of players from both sides are earmarked for the national team’s African Nations Championships (Chan) finals set for South Africa next year.
Mbada Diamonds corporate services executive George Manyaya and chief administration officer Major Mahlangu watched the match and were both impressed with the turnout by the fans — an almost full house. Mahlangu returns to the same venue this weekend for his company’s first round match which will pit Shabanie and Chicken Inn and is hoping for the same carnival atmosphere.
Later in the evening, BancABC hosted a cocktail party for the two teams and various local businesspeople at the upmarket Pote Hill Lodge. The banking group reiterated its long-term commitment to the development of the game and took the chance to congratulate the Warriors for their qualification to the 2014 Chan finals.
BancABC are the also the sponsors of Dynamos, Highlanders, Black Mambas, Central Region Division One log leaders Chapungu, who are now almost sure of a return to the top flight next season, and Northern Region Division One side Flame Lily.