CAPS United’s clash with Ngezi Platinum Stars headlines this year’s Chibuku Super Cup first-round matches, with the competition kicking off this weekend with preliminary round matches.
BY HENRY MHARA
This year’s edition of the annual tournament, bankrolled by Delta Beverages, who also sponsor the league, was launched yesterday in the capital.
The draw for the preliminary and first round matches was conducted at the launch, with some mouth-watering ties including Dynamos’ tricky fixture against Bulawayo City and Highlanders versus Harare City, but it was the draw pitting Caps United against the defending champions, Ngezi Platinum, which stood out.
The Green Machine camp is, however, comfortable with facing the Mhondoro side, which they recently thumped 3-0 in the league.
“It’s a fair draw, because these are all league teams that were in the draw and you expect to play any one of them. It’s good to play the defending champions, they would be under pressure to defend the title. We are the Cup Kings remember and we feel that this is our year to reclaim that tag,” Caps United chief executive officer, Cuthbert Chitima said.
Harare City, who won the competition in 2015, will be hoping for another good run, starting with a victory over Highlanders in the initial stage.
The two teams are struggling in the league and this competition presents them with a chance of winning some silverware this season.
“We have always done well in the Chibuku Super Cup tournament and I don’t think it would be any different even if we had drawn Dynamos, Caps United, Ngezi Platinum or any other team that is in good form now, we could still fancy our chances. This is our chance of salvaging a season that has been forgettable,” Harare City official, Hope Chizuzu said.
Highlanders chairman, Mordern Ngwenya said: “It’s a good draw. We were expecting to play any team. We have always played brilliantly against Harare City, so we are looking forward to that game and, obviously, winning, not just this match, but proceeding all the way to the final and winning it. As a club, we went through a lean spell, but we have picked ourselves up and there is evidence pointing to that.”
The tournament, worth $400 000, has a new format this year.
Unlike in the previous years, it will kick off at the preliminary round due to the increased number of teams in the league.
The teams were seeded according to their position on the log standings after matchday 17, with the top 14 teams automatically qualifying to the first round draw.
The top eight teams were seeded and paired against the rest of the teams in the first round draw.
For the preliminary round, the bottom four teams at that stage of the season, who were Hwange, Tsholotsho, Yadah and Bantu Rovers, were drawn together.
The preliminary round matches are on this weekend, while the first round matches will take place next weekend. The actual dates and venues will be announced soon.
The final has been set for November 11, with the winner representing the country in the Caf Confederations Cup next year.
Chibuku Super Cup preliminary round
Hwange v Yadah, Tsholotsho v Bantu Rovers
Dynamos v Bulawayo City, FC Platinum v Chapungu, Chicken Inn v (Winner Hwange/Yadah), Black Rhinos v Triangle, Ngezi Platinum Stars v Caps United, How Mine v (Winner Tsholotsho/Bantu Rovers), Highlanders v Harare City, ZPC Kariba v Shabanie Mine