Festering frustration at missing out on the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title will provide motivation for the country’s Big Three clubs in Dynamos, Caps United and Highlanders, who now have to rely on triumphing in the EasyCall Cup to salvage some silverware from their season.
BY HENRY MHARA
The competition’s quarter-finals kick off today with two games, Caps United playing host to Hwange at the National Sports Stadium and ZPC Kariba entertaining league log leaders Chicken Inn at Nyamhunga Stadium.
Tomorrow, Dynamos, who lost in this competition at the final stage last season, will be looking to go one further step when they welcome How Mine at Rufaro Stadium. In Zvishavane, FC Platinum, who are second on the log table, take on Highlanders at Mandava Stadium.
While all the participants, drawn from the teams that finished in the top eight last season, would want to win the cup for obvious reasons, it is the traditional heavyweights Dynamos, Caps United and Highlanders who are hard-pressed to win the tournament to make up for what has been a disappointing season this far.
Defending league champions Dynamos are third on the log, six points behind Chicken Inn with only nine points still to
play for, while Caps United are fifth, 15 points behind the log leaders.
As for Highlanders, they are in the bottom half of the log table, and will need to win all their remaining three league matches to avoid relegation.
So, success in this competition could be the only way the three teams can mollify their multitudes of supporters.
“We are a big team and we are expected to win some silverware,” said Caps United midfielder Dominic Mukandi, who has been a transformed man since Lloyd Chitembwe took over some few months ago.
“We didn’t start the season well, but I think we are improving and we have to show it by winning this cup. Winning the cup will mean a lot to our supporters, the club and us the players. This is an opportunity for us to make some cash for the festive season. We have prepared well for the next match against Hwange and we are 99% certain that we will win the match and progress to the next round. We are playing at home so we expect a big game with a great atmosphere, and we would want to show people how good our game can be,” Mukandi added.
The defensive midfielder has been terrific in recent games and was outstanding in the Harare derby last week. He explained the sudden transformation: “I have been working very hard and the coach is giving me confidence. My teammates are also helping a lot and I’m hoping to continue doing well. I think this is my time to shine.”
Caps United’s city rivals Dynamos have had a turbulent few weeks where they lost in another cup final and have lost considerable ground in their pursuit for a fifth straight title.
Vice-captain Stephen Alimenda though still has hopes of winning the league and cup double this season.
“This cup presents us with a good opportunity of winning silverware, but we are also hopeful in the league. We will fight until the end of the season. We will try and win all our remaining matches and see how it ends. The supporters should continue to back us until the end, we really appreciate them.”
As for Highlanders, it has been a horrible season for them so far and this cup offers an opportunity to redeem the situation.
They welcome Felix Chindungwe back from injury for the trip to Zvishavane.
The defender missed the team’s last two matches, but the club technical adviser Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu yesterday, without giving much, said all the players, including Chindungwe, were training and raring to go.
Bosso though, will be up against a very formidable FC Platinum side who are yet to lose in 18 league matches. They have won seven of the eight matches they have played at home in that period.