MBADA Diamonds strengthened their marriage with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) yesterday after — for the fourth-year running — they unveiled a top-four end-of-season tournament worth $250 000.
The new deal was revealed at a brief function in the capital yesterday morning, ending speculation on the future of the tournament that had dominated the media in the last three weeks.
Speaking to the media, Mbada Diamonds corporate services executive George Manyaya said winners of the competition would take home $50 000, runners-up $30 000, the two losing semi-finalists would go home with $15 000 each while the other 12 teams that will not take part would get $10 000 each.
“Mbada Diamonds remains committed to its corporate social responsibility programmes and this year, the Mbada Diamonds Cup is a big part of the cocktail of our programmes that we roll out, year in, year out, to strengthen the bond that binds us with the communities in which we operate.
“As a company, in just three years, we have made a big impact in terms of changing the face of our football and we have been humbled by the goodwill messages that we have received from all sectors of our national game, pronouncing the appreciation that this game has of the part we have played so far.
“We have also religiously invested in our representatives in the Caf Confederation Cup, offering them a helping hand in terms of a healthy sponsorship package, hoping that once we do that, the teams will be able to represent our beautiful country without carrying the punishing weight that comes with worrying about the cost of taking part in such an adventure.
“Sadly we never created a continental club champion from this country, through our subsidies, but our mission and we fell that we can’t be the ones who should be blamed because the clubs failed to take another huge step forward.
“We are concentrating on balancing our efforts in enhancing our operational capacity and efficiency as well as fulfilling our normal corporate social responsibility investment thrust. The current environment poses its own operational challenges, which have affected us as a corporate and cumulatively, our stakeholders.
“Our strategic thrust for 2014 is to heavily invest into mining of deep-seated conglomerate kimberlitic material which requires an extensive capital outlay. As a result, we embarked on major cost-cutting initiatives that have seen us reducing budgets in all facets.
“It is against this background that the 2014 edition of the Mbada Diamonds Cup comes in a different but more exciting format which we believe will make a bigger impact on the standard of the competition,” Manyaya said.
He added: “The games will remain at $1 and please we say no to violence.”
Mbada will fund the top-four teams’ transport, accommodation and branded kits and the man-of-the-match for the three games, but there will be no previous individual prizes like the goalkeeper, player and top scorer of the tournament.
Dates and the format of the competition, according to PSL marketing manager Rodwell Thabe, would be announced in due course.
“The option of a double header is under discussion and we will be talking to our broadcaster (SuperSport) before we release the dates and format of the competition. We don’t want to create a counter attraction with the African Union Sports Council Region Five Games that will be in Bulawayo in December, but we will work on the dates knowing that our league is supposed to end on November 23,” Thabe said. The Region Five Games will take place between December 3-15. The possibility is that the semi-finals will be staged on the last weekend of November while the final will take place on December 21. Dynamos won the first two editions of the competition in 2011 and 2012 with Highlanders claiming the 2013 edition.
The Harare giants lead the PSL standings with 46 points, ZPC Kariba are in second place with 44 points. Caps United are third with 42 points while Highlanders are fourth on 39 points.
Hwange are fifth on 38 points with FC Platinum (35), Chicken Inn and Harare City (34) and Buffaloes on 33 points, with six games of the season to play.