BY HENRY MHARA
HARARE City coach Lloyd Chitembwe is tipping one of Dynamos, FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum Stars to win the upcoming Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title. The new domestic league is set to kick off next month after a two-year hiatus induced by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chibuku Super Cup, which is being used as a test case for the resumption of the new league season, has reached the quarter-final stage this weekend with all the big guns, except for Caps United, through to the last eight.
Indications are that government is happy with how the tournament has gone so far, and will likely sanction the restart of the season.
Chitembwe, who guided Caps United to the 2016 league title, is impressed by how Dynamos, Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum have fared in the competition this far and believes they are good enough to win the championship this term.
Asked if his Harare City team is ready for the restart of the league campaign, Chitembwe said: “The whole idea (of playing Chibuku Super Cup tournament) was to prepare teams ultimately for the league and we are happy with the progress. There is progression in the way the team is applying itself technically, tactically, physically and mentally.
“In terms of readiness, we are at a place where we want to be and I’m sure we can’t wait for the season to start. So we are looking forward to the big thing, which is the league. I’m not saying we are going to win it because there are obviously the Dynamos and Platinums of this world, but I think we will give a very good fight.”
Harare City did just enough to secure a spot in the quarterfinals after holding Dynamos to a draw in their last group match to finish second in Group 1.
Their reward is a match against league newcomers Craneborne Bullets in the last eight after the army side finished top of Group 2.
“I’s a challenge facing Craneborne Bullets. They are in the quarterfinals on merit. They deserve to be there. They are playing well and for them to lead in that group tells you they have done a great deal of work so we are looking forward and we know what is expected of us,” Chitembwe said.
“We know what we are supposed to do in order for us to progress to the next round and we are very much excited to be participating in this competition.”
The former Caps United coach managed to grind the nil-all draw against Dynamos without three of his key players, including captain Marshall Machazane, who was serving a suspension.
Influential midfield duo of Tatenda Tawengwa and Ben Musaka also missed out due to suspension.
“I’m very happy that we managed to get a good result against Dynamos, minus three of our key players,” Chitembwe said.
“We will have a full complement of the squad against Craneborne so it will give us some more options and we expect the team to do much better in as far as taking us as far as our ambitions are
Meanwhile, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has set ticket prices for the quarterfinals matches.
All the four matches will be played at Baobab Stadium in Mhondoro-Ngezi.
This follows a government pronouncement last week that matches can have a maximum 2 000 fully vaccinated spectators.
PSL yesterday said tickets would be sold at US$20 for the rest of the ground, while the VIP enclosure costs US$50 or the Zimdollar equivalent.
Each team has been allocated 250 tickets, which will be sold at the club’s offices starting today.
PSL said fans, who would have paid to watch the mid morning matches, could watch the afternoon games using the same ticket.
Chibuku Super Cup quarterfinal fixtures Saturday: Chicken Inn v Ngezi Platinum Stars (11am), FC Platinum v Highlanders (3pm)
Sunday: Craneborne Bullets v Harare City (11am), Dynamos v Black Rhinos (3pm)
Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara