WITH the league championship battle seemingly a preserve of the two platinum sides, FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum Stars in the last two years, the rest of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League sides have all firmly fixed their sights on quenching their success thirst in the Chibuku Super Cup which stars at the weekend.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Winners of the league title get way with $100 000 and a chance to represent the country in the Caf Champions League, while the Chibuku Super Cup carries a prize tag of $75 000 for the winner and an opportunity to participate in the Caf Confederation Cup.
The 2015 league champions, Chicken Inn, who trail FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum in the league though with slim chances of overtaking any of the two, were banned from participating in this year’s edition of the Chibuku Super Cup after they walked out of the first round match against Yadah last year.
Caps United won the championship in 2016 and ended last season on position five after losing a considerable number of players, and coach Lloyd Chitembwe believes they have done well this year under the circumstances although the title is out of reach.
They are on 43 points, sitting on position five on the log table after dropping points against Shabanie Mine on Saturday, and they are an unassailable 19 points behind leaders FC Platinum and now seek reprieve from the Chibuku Super Cup as they host ZPC Kariba at the National Sports Stadium in the first round on Sunday.
Last year, Caps United were booted out of the tournament after a PSL ad-hoc committee found them guilty of causing the abandonment of their quarter-final tie against Shabanie Mine, with the match awarded to the Zvishavane-based side.
Having finished empty-handed last season, they will look to make up with success in the cup competition, as they have fallen far off the leaders.
After thrashing troubled fellow giants Dynamos 3-0 at Barbourfields Stadium, Highlanders went on to lose two away league matches to Mutare City Rovers and ZPC Kariba and remain on position seven with 39 points.
The league title has been elusive for the Bulawayo giants for the past 11 years after last lifting the silverware in 2006. Coach Madinda Ndlovu is on record saying they are not after the league title this year, but last week said winning the Chibuku Super Cup would give hope to the masses of the Highlanders fans.
“That is where our hope lies now (Chibuku Super Cup). We are going to put everything we have to try and win that cup.
It will give a lot of hope to the doubting Thomases, because I believe if these boys win some silverware, it will give them the drive,” Ndlovu said.
Last year, under Dutchman Erol Akbay, Highlanders were parcelled out of the tournament in the first round, losing to eventual winners Harare City.
They take on Yadah in the first round of this year’s edition at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Ambitious Triangle, sitting on the fourth spot on the log with 45 points, also want to do well in this year’s Chibuku Super Cup.
Coach Taurai Mangwiro is optimistic.
“I think we are heading in the right direction. I think we have a very good chance of making a statement. We have the Chibuku Cup coming against Shabanie Mine and we would also like to do well,” he said.
It’s not looking good for Dynamos, who are fighting relegation in the league with just 30 points from 26 games after last winning the championship in 2014.
Winning the Chibuku Super Cup will come as great solace to the Dynamos fans who have been shunning the club’s league matches.
After losing to Harare City on Sunday, embattled coach Lloyd Mutasa said the creativity was there in his boys, but the problem is in scoring.
They could use this competition to find the elusive form.
DeMbare face Bulawayo Chiefs in the first round at Rufaro on Saturday.
Harare City start the Chibuku Super Cup defence against Bulawayo City at Rufaro on Friday.
For the two platinum miners, there are no guarantees for the league title as they are separated by just five points.
They will also go out full throttle to try and win this competition.
Friday: Harare City v Bulawayo City (Rufaro)
Saturday: FC Platinum v Chapungu (Mandava), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Herentals (Baobab), Black Rhinos v Nichrut (National Sports Stadium), Dynamos v Bulawayo Chiefs (Rufaro)
Sunday: Highlanders v Yadah (Barbourfields), Caps United v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Triangle United v Shabanie Mine (Gibbo)