By Eddie Chikamhi
DYNAMOS stand-in skipper Tawanda Muparati was still over the moon yesterday following their Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-final demolition of Gunners and has rallied his troops to remain focussed as they now brace for a semi-final showdown with bitter city rivals CAPS United.
There had been indications that Dynamos would meet FC Platinum in a repeat of last year’s semi-finals with the other last four match pitting CAPS United and Monomotapa who came from behind to upstage Highlanders in their quarter-final tie.
The semi-finals are set for next month.
But there seemed to be conflicting signals on the last four pairings amid earlier indications that the winner between Dynamos and Gunners would face that of the Zvishavane derby pitting FC Platinum and Shabanie Mine.
This meant that CAPS United would have faced the victor in the clash between Bosso and Monoz.
However, Premier Soccer League chief executive Kenny Ndebele yesterday said the confusion could have emanated from “a misinterpretation of the fixtures from the draw’’.
According to Ndebele, the Harare giants are lined up to face each other in the next round as CAPS United booked their place after beating Buffaloes 2-0 at Gibbo on Saturday.
Dark horses Monomotapa and FC Platinum would then complete an exciting menu for the semi-finals that have been slotted for the weekend of November 9-11.
Monomotapa overturned a two-goal deficit to elbow out Highlanders 3-2 at the Colliery while Donald Ngoma ensured a safe passage for the platinum miners when he headed the moneybags to victory over Shabanie Mine in the Zvishavane derby at Mandava on Saturday.
Muparati said the Glamour Boys are close to realising their dream of retaining the league and cup double after easing into the last four of the lucrative Mbada Diamonds Cup at the expense of Gunners.
DeMbare, who are also the front runners in the league race, overpowered Moses Chunga’s Gunners 3-0 to seal their place in the semi-finals of the biggest cup competition courtesy of Denver Mukamba’s double and an own goal by Gunners midfielder Moses Muchenje.
Muparati said the Glamour Boys had learnt their lessons on the way to the semis after suffering a scare in the first round against Quelaton. DeMbare needed a penalty shootout to keep their dream alive after they were held 1-1 by the Premiership basement club at Rufaro.
Callisto Pasuwa’s men, however, were more clinical in the quarter-finals although, just like their Gunners opponents, they struggled to keep the game flowing on the bumpy surface at Baghdad.
“We won but I should say it was a difficult outing. We couldn’t play our normal game because of the bumpy state of the pitch.
“It was hard to control the ball so we ended up releasing it early to the next person so that we moved forward. The aim was not to stay long on the ball to avoid losing possession unnecessarily.
“We were better prepared for this one since we had learnt our lessons from the first game against Quelaton. It was a reminder for most of us that complacency is dangerous.
“The first game wasn’t supposed to be decided by a penalty shootout but it had to be so because we had made a big mistake by underrating Quelaton.
“The coach talked extensively about that and I think everyone was 100 percent geared this time around. We have to be on top of our game because every time we go out there, it is like playing a cup final,” he said.
Muparati is one of the players who are still to learn of their fate from the Zifa board for their alleged involvement in the Asiagate scandal but he didn’t look like a troubled man as he put all the anxieties behind him to make sure his troops came out tops.
With the captain’s armband thrust on him, Muparati had to lead from the front and played his heart out in front of a capacity crowd.
But it was Mukamba who stole the show with his sublime skills and two crucial blows that knocked Gunners out. The lanky midfielder, Mukamba, deservedly walked away with the man of the match award worth US$500 and won the praises of the captain of the day.
“Denver has been fantastic in the team,” said Muparati. “In fact he is the key man at the moment because he has been making things happen even when chips are down. He is an inspiration to everyone but he should not relax. It needs hard work to maintain the standards,” said Muparati.
CAPS United, who have been on recovery path in the last month, marched on after beating Buffaloes. The Green Machine scored through Tapiwa Kumbuyani and an own goal by Buffaloes’ Takunda Jefrey.
Makepekepe who are battling to secure a top eight finish in the league race made sure they remained in the hunt and coach Taurai Mangwiro praised his charges for a good display in Chiredzi.
“The team played well and we created numerous chances and although we were wasteful I am happy we are getting into those positions. At least this is something that we can work on. I would rather be worried if we had not been creating there.
“Right now we are one step away from the final and as CAPS we are prepared to face any team in the semi-final,” said Mangwiro.
Makepekepe, however, had two casualties in Chiredzi as Shingi Kawondera was pulled out of the starting line up after straining his groin while Rahman Kutsanzira could not finish the match because of a recurrent headache.
Monomotapa took the other semi-final slot with a thrilling 3-2 win after Highlanders gave away a two-goal advantage. Bheki Ncube had put the Bulawayo giants on the right path when he grabbed a quick brace inside the opening 20 minutes of the match.
But Monoz who recently broke Bosso’s 23-match unbeaten run in the league championship extended their bullying of the Bulawayo giants to the cup tournament when they hit back through Osborne Mukuradare, Russel Madamombe and an 84th minute winner from Hillary Mugoniwa. They now face FC Platinum instead of CAPS United as had been earlier indicated.
Mbada Diamonds, sponsors of the tournament said they would release a statement this afternoon to clarify issues on the semi-final fixtures. The company’s media liaison officer Tafadzwa Chiremba could not be drawn into discussing much about the fixtures yesterday.
“The position was clear from the launch but if there is a misconception on the fixtures we will address it in a statement tomorrow (today),” said Chiremba. The Herald