THAT the Mbada Diamonds Cup is going to have a brand new champion this season is testimony of the growing competitiveness of the Premier Soccer League (PSL)and the passionate fans that drive the brands.
Dynamos were dethroned on Sunday by How Mine just when they thought it was theirs again for the taking for the third time in a row and that maybe Kalisto Pasuwa was going to win the league and cup double for the third season running.
But this is football and How Mine, who are definitely the giant killers and dark horses in this competition which also has Highlanders, Caps United and Harare City, had other ideas and played textbook football to shock their much-fancied opponents.
Indeed the current results are a true reflection of the state of the game. How Mine, Highlanders, Caps and Harare City are playing good football and deserve to be in the last four.
We are grateful that the PSL and Mbada have recognised the importance of this constituency called the fans.
With all expenses from accommodation and transport to player and technical allowances being taken care of by Mbada, why on earth would some clubs want to even maximise on gate takings?
For starters, it has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the $5 the clubs were charging in league matches was not affordable to most of their fans and when big clubs like Dynamos and Highlanders attract less than 10 000 fans at their home matches, it should be cause for concern.
While $3 was more affordable, disposable income is just not available for a nation that is reeling under higher than 80% unemployment and industries are crumbling by the day.
So to bring cheer to the fans and afford as many people as possible the chance to watch their favourite teams, the league and Mbada struck a $1 deal for this competition and what we have seen is a wonderful response from the fans.
We have seen full stadiums at the Colliery in Hwange, Gibbo in Chiredzi, Ascot in Gweru, Mandava in Zvishavane, Rufaro in Harare and Barbourfields in Bulawayo. And we have seen the fans accept the outcome of each match without any problems, even though some dubious refereeing problems emerged on Saturday.
Chicken Inn can claim they were denied a clear penalty against Caps United and Highlanders were denied a clean goal against Buffaloes. We mention these two in particular because they were screened live on SuperSport 9 and the world watched the games on television.
Replays from both matches showed the referees were clearly offside in their decisions and we don’t need this in football. Fans need value for their hard-earned dollar and Mbada does not need to be associated with suspicious decisions.
Going into the semi-finals and the final, we hope the debate on the dollar charge will not be re-ignited by any club. We need more fans watching the game so that even if outsiders like How Mine and Harare City are paired together they should play before a capacity crowd.