THE battle for the $250 000 Mbada Diamonds Cup end-of-season football tournament has intensified with just six games of the season to go with the diamond mining company set to clear all issues regarding the 2014 edition this morning.
After much speculation on the fourth edition of the competition, Mbada Diamonds is expected to lay to rest speculation about the future of the tournament at a Press briefing that might see a tough battle for the top four spots by the end of the season.
Sources, though, point to an end-of-year top four tournament that will run for two weekends, starting with a possible double header, with Hwange staying in contention following their 0-0 draw against Bantu Rovers at Hartsfield Stadium in Bulawayo yesterday.
Dynamos, winners of the first two editions in 2011 and 2012, top the standings with 46 points after edging a battling Shabanie Mine 1-0 on Sunday via a Ronald Chitiyo belter. Dynamos have easier games left, but will have to overcome ZPC Kariba along the way.
ZPC Kariba are defying all odds on second spot with 44 points after thumping Highlanders 3-1 on Sunday at Hartsfield. The new boys have to navigate their way past Dynamos, whom they beat 1-0 in the reverse fixture, and Caps United (drew 1-1 in the season opener) before the end of the season to ensure a place.
Besides the two Harare giants, there is also the matter of FC Platinum (0-0 in the first round) at Mandava and two other games against Harare City (won 1-0) and Buffaloes (0-0).
In third place, there is Caps United, who overcame a difficult month to beat Black Rhinos 1-0 on Saturday when Moses Muchenje converted from the penalty spot.
The Green Machine have 42 points while Hwange now have 38 points, one behind Highlanders, who are on 39 points following two consecutive losses to Harare City and ZPC Kariba. Highlanders won the 2013 edition of the Mbada Diamonds Cup after a clinical dismantling of How Mine 3-0. They were, like now, under Kelvin Kaindu, Bekithemba Ndlovu and Tembo Chuma. But the Bosso executive early this year decided to sideline Ndlovu and Chuma in favour of Peter Nkomo and Mark Mathe.
But these are not the only teams in the race.
FC Platinum, having won their first league match at home against Buffaloes under Norman Mapeza, have their tails up sitting on 35 points and sixth position and two more wins will take them to a competitive 41.
In seventh place, there is Chicken Inn with 34 points while Harare City are at the borderline, also with 34 points and have a huge shout in the season finale.
In the past three seasons, the Mbada Diamonds Cup games have been spread across the country with towns like Kariba, Hwange, Chiredzi and Beitbridge getting their own share of the action. Last year, the games broke new ground with fans paying a $1 to watch their stars and there are unlikely to be changes this year.
But with just three games proposed for this year, it is likely there will be a double header in one city on a Saturday, to be decided by the Premier Soccer League and their broadcast partners SuperSport, with the final, in another venue, the following weekend.