GIANTS Dynamos and Highlanders have dated tough opponents for the 2023 Chibuku Cup after they were paired against Simba Bhora and defending champions Bulawayo Chiefs, respectively, in the first round of the competition following a draw held in Harare yesterday.
Dynamos, who have always found the going tough in the country’s premier knockout tournament since its return on the local scene a decade ago, will be desperate to win the competition this time around as they celebrate their 60th anniversary.
Their league campaign has not been that impressive as they trail log leaders Highlanders by nine points at the halfway point of the 18-team championship race.
In the last two years, Dynamos have been knocked out of the competition by league champions FC Platinum, first a 1-0 defeat in the last four stage in 2021 before a penalty shootout quarterfinal loss last season.
Against Simba Bhora, Dynamos face a side that is difficult to beat, but has also struggled to win matches in its maiden season in the league.
Of interest is the fact that Isaiah Mupfurutsa, who was DeMbare chairman last year, is now at Simba Bhora together with coach Tonderai Ndiraya, who coached the Harare giants last year.
Mupfurutsa, whose side played a goalless draw against DeMbare in their league meeting, believes they can beat Dynamos in the Chibuku tournament this year.
“We get into every match with the intention of winning and we will approach the match like so. We have played Dynamos before and everyone knows what happened, they should not go into that match thinking it will be a walkover as we are going to compete equally,” he said.
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Highlanders have been impressive this season in the league, where they have remained unbeaten and are enjoying a seven-point lead at the top of the log.
They would be looking to extend their unbeaten run in the cup competition, but face a side which caused them a heartbreak in last season’s edition of the Chibuku Cup.
Bulawayo Chiefs are the defending champions of the competition, after a well-executed Arthur “Diego” Musiyiwa score dislodged Herentals in the final at Barbourfields Stadium last year.
In other interesting match-ups, former Chibuku Cup champions Ngezi Platinum were drawn against Triangle, while Caps United are set to play Hwange, with FC Platinum entertaining the winner of the preliminary round match between Yadah and Cranborne Bullets.
The knockout competition features all the 18 teams in the league, with top 14 teams, as of week 17, automatically qualifying to the first round of the draw.
The bottom four are relegated to the preliminary round, where they play elimination matches, with the victorious two joining the top teams in the round of 16.
Newboys Green Fuels, Simba Bhora and Sheasham will participate in the competition for the first time.
FC Platinum were the inaugural winners of the cup in 2014, before Harare City won it in 2015 and they went on to grab their second title in 2017.
Chiredzi-based Triangle went on to win the cup in 2018, before Highlanders lifted the cup the following year.
The tournament is set to start on August 9 in the preliminary round.
The first round of games will take place during the weekend of August 12-13.
2023 PSL Chibuku Super Cup draw details
Yadah v Cranborne Bullets
Sheasham v Black Rhinos
First round draw
Highlanders v Bulawayo Chiefs
Ngezi Platinum v Triangle United
Manica Diamonds v Sheasham/Black Rhinos
Dynamos v Simba Bhora
Chicken Inn v Green Fuel
FC Platinum v Yadah/ Cranborne Bullets
Caps United v Hwange
Herentals v ZPC Kariba
Preliminary round: August 9, 2023
Round One: August 12-13, 2023
Quarter finals: September 23-24, 2023
Semi finals: October 28-29, 2023
Final: November 25, 2023