MUCHEKE Stadium in Masvingo will be under the spotlight this weekend when Highlanders and Buffaloes clash in the Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-finals — two years after it last hosted a top-flight football match. The match will be screened live on SuperSport 9 on Sunday.
Masvingo last hosted a Premiership match on November 19, 2011 — a very sad day, when the home town’s team lost 2-0 to Monomotapa to bid farewell to the top-flight league.
On that fateful day, Masvingo United needed at least a point against Monomotapa to survive relegation, but goals from Russell Madamombe, now at Dynamos, and Joseph Mutambiranwa sealed their fate and also guaranteed Monomotapa’s survival in the Premiership under caretaker coach Nkululeko Dhlamini.
Then Monomotapa coach Taurai Mangwiro, who quit Caps United on Sunday and returned yesterday, was in Botswana attending a Fifa coaching course.
Masvingo United and Shabanie Mine both ended on 34 points, but the asbestos miners retained their place in the Premiership because of a superior goal difference.
Shabanie scored two more goals than Masvingo United after they beat Highlanders 2-0.
But with Mbada spreading their games across the country, Mucheke will have a slice of the action again, while Dulibadzimu Stadium in Beitbridge, accustomed to Tripple B games, will play host to Harare City and Hwange in the same competition on Saturday.
Ascot Stadium in Gweru, which will have Premiership action next season after Chapungu were promoted, will host the epic Caps United-Chicken Inn clash on Saturday.
Gibbo Stadium in Chiredzi, the Colliery in Hwange and Mandava in Zvishavane hosted some of the first round matches two weeks ago.
Highlanders have mixed memories of Mucheke; they have won and lost a fight there, both on and off the field of play.
And many Masvingo fans will remember that it was in 2006 that Zenzo Moyo teed up Obadiah Tarumbwa at the same venue for a 1-0 win in a tense match that secured Highlanders a crucial win before they thumped Hwange 4-2 at the Colliery to seal their last title.
With Masvingo exiting the Premiership in 2011, the venue has seen lower division matches being hosted and with match tickets going for a dollar, a full house is expected — even more than the holding capacity of 5 000.
Speaking at the quarter-final draw last Friday, Mbada Diamonds Cup organising chairman Tafadzwa Chiremba said: “We were impressed with the overwhelming response from the fans in the first round and with the ticket charges being maintained at $1, I believe we will have good crowds again in the quarter-finals.”
No doubt, Masvingo fans will be backing Buffaloes following several running battles with Highlanders.
Highlanders fans, on the other hand, are buoyed by their team’s recent good run home and away and believe backing them all the way, will aid their success.
In the last few seasons, Highlanders have not been lucky in cup competitions as they fell twice to Zimbabwe Saints and Monomotapa at the Colliery and will be hoping that a change of venue will translate to a change of fortunes.
Bosso drew 1-1 with Buffaloes in a league match at Sakubva on Sunday, following up on their 3-2 win over Triangle in the first round of the Mbada Diamonds Cup and a 2-1 league win over FC Platinum.