Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE first round of the Chibuku Super Cup kicks off today with all the 16 Premiership clubs hoping to negotiate their way into the next stage of the competition.
With the winners of the 2019 edition of the tournament set to represent Zimbabwe at next year’s edition of the Caf Confederation Cup, local soccer fans should expect thrills in the opening round, with teams giving their best to avoid being knocked out of the Delta Beverages-sponsored competition.
Defending champions, Triangle United, will kick off their title defence later as their fixture against Herentals has been postponed due to the former’s involvement in the Caf Confederation Cup. Triangle are at home to Tanzania’s Azam at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
Also postponed is the fixture between league champions FC Platinum and Chapungu due to the former’s participation in the Caf Champions League.
This leaves thirsty football lovers with six pots to drink from.
Today its Ngezi Platinum Stars versus Mushowani Stars at Baobab, Caps United versus Harare City at the National Sports Stadium while ZPC Kariba and Hwange clash at Nyamhunga.
Tomorrow, the country’s oldest teams Dynamos and Highlanders will face-off at Rufaro Stadium, with Chicken Inn seeking revenge when they entertain Manica Diamonds who beat them 2-0 in a league match a fortnight ago. Rahman Gumbo- coached TelOne are at the National Sports Stadium to face Black Rhinos.
All the games are potentially explosive, but it is the Dynamos and Highlanders encounter that is arguably the drawcard.
Never mind that the two are at extreme ends on the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table; Dynamos are on position six with 34 points from 23 games, seven points behind leaders Chicken Inn while Highlanders are in the relegation dogfight, four points above safety.
For DeMbare, they will want to continue with their fine run, having gone for 11 league matches unbeaten, with their last defeat being against Bosso who beat them 1-0 in June.
It’s their smooth sailing in the PSL that gives Dynamos hope that they can knock Highlanders out of the Chibuku Super Cup.
Highlanders could be playing mind games by declaring that their focus is on surviving relegation than the Chibuku Super Cup.
“The two teams are rivals, whether it’s a friendly, league or cup game. It’s always a difficult game to play. We are playing Dynamos, obviously we want to win against our rivals and progress to the next round. But in as much as we want to win the cup, the most important thing for us right now is getting points in the league as much as possible. Yes, we want to win Chibuku but we want points in the league more than the cup,” Mpofu said.
Meanwhile, Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas says his team will be out for revenge when they take on Manica Diamonds at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow.
“In cup games anything can happen. We’ll try to rotate the team, give other players a run. We’ll try to go for the Chibuku Super Cup but the emphasis is on winning the league title.
“We know in the last game against Manica Diamonds, they pitched up for the game but didn’t compete. We were complacent in our approach and this time around the mindset is different, we’re going to compete,” said Antipas.
Today: Ngezi Platinum Stars v Mushowani Stars (Baobab), Caps United v Harare City (NSS), ZPC Kariba v Hwange (Nyamhunga)
Tomorrow: Dynamos v Highlanders (Rufaro Stadium), Black Rhinos v Tel One, Chicken Inn v Manica Diamonds (Luveve), FC Platinum v Chapungu (postponed) Triangle v Herentals (postponed)