BY HENRY MHARA
DYNAMOS have targeted winning the Chibuku Super Cup this season to complete a remarkable turnaround to their season which started horribly, but now carries a silver lining.
The Harare giants were yesterday drawn against old foes Highlanders in the first round of this year’s edition of the competition, in a standout fixture of the draw which also threw out fascinating contests.
The other noteworthy ties in the first round will see two-time winners Harare City, now coached by Lloyd Chitembwe, facing Caps United, while league champions and former Chibuku Super Cup winners FC Platinum host their bogey side Chapungu in a Midlands derby.
Defending champions Triangle United face off with Herentals in what on paper looks like an easy fixture.
However, it is the DeMbare versus Bosso clash that would be the prominent fixture of the round as the two giants aim to finish the season with an improbable silverware.
“We were expecting any outcome from the draw, and it’s us versus Highlanders. It’s now up to the technical team to sharpen their weapons so that they can end up having a positive result. The target for us will be to beat Highlanders, go all the way and win the trophy. Any team that participates in any competition strives to win the trophy, and we are no exception,” said Dynamos treasurer Webster Marechera at the draw ceremony.
If they can go all the way and win the cup, it would be an extraordinary shift for a team that was in the dumps three matches into the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season, but have revived under Tonderai Ndiraya. The Harare giants are now a genuine dark horse to the title as they are just six points behind log leaders ZPC Kariba.
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Ndiraya has, however, constantly rubbished any claims that his team can win the title this season.
Dynamos have, of late, hit a purple patch where they are unbeaten in the last 10 matches and many would expect them to run over a Highlanders side who are going through a tough period, but Marechera is not looking much into the two team’s current form.
“Cup games are different from league matches, and any outcome can happen. A team that is performing poorly in the league can win a cup match.”
Highlanders are a team in a quandary at the moment, with three defeats and a draw in their last four league matches, a run of results that has left coach Mandla Mpofu’s job in serious doubt.
Asked about the draw, Mpofu said: “It’s a tough one, but very exciting. Dynamos have been playing well of late and this match is like a final before the final.”
All 18 league teams will play in the tournament and were drawn as per the log standings after match day 17.
The top 14 teams automatically qualified for the first round draw, while teams on positions 15-18 will play in the preliminary round this weekend to determine two winners to progress and join in the first round.
The teams positioned 1-8 were seeded for the first round, and will play their first round matches at home on the weekend of September 28-29.
The preliminary round will feature the four lowest ranked teams after match day 17 and these were Mushowani, Bulawayo Chiefs, TelOne and Yadah.
Mushowani Stars will play Bulawayo Chiefs and TelOne will face Yadah. The two matches will be played as a double header at Mandava Stadium this Saturday.
FC Platinum were top at that stage and their reward is a match against Chapungu. The two teams drew at this stage of the competition in the last two seasons, with Chapungu emerging winners on both occasions.
However, FC Platinum spokesperson Chido Chizondo will be hoping for a different outcome this time around.
“It’s a fair draw, and Zvishavane always welcomes Midlands derbies although our history with Chapungu in this competition hasn’t been so great. We are always targeting honours, but you know the pressure we are under as a club. We are trying to ensure that we defend the league title and also get into the mini league of the Caf Champions League. So, it will be interesting times for us. We have a solid team and have a motivated coach so it will be a lot of pressure, but we can manage as a team,” Chizondo said.
Black Rhinos, who have had a decent season so far, will face the winner between TelOne and Yadah in the first round. Their coach, Herbert Maruwa, is targeting a semi-final berth.
“The two teams are all good so it’s not going to be an easy fixture. Our chances of progressing further are 50/50. But it’s a chance for us to improve because last year we lost in the first round, and this time around we need to reach at least the semi-finals, and see what happens thereafter,” Maruwa said.
The winner of the competition, whose final has been set for November 30, will represent the country in the Caf Confederations Cup next season.
Chibuku first round draw
Chicken Inn v Manica Diamonds, Black Rhinos v TelOne/ Yadah, Caps United v Harare City, Ngezi Platinum Stars v Mushowani/ Bulawayo Chiefs, ZPC Kariba v Hwange, Triangle United v Herentals, Dynamos v Highlanders