By Fungai Muderere
The Premier League big-hitters enter the Chibuku Super Cup on Saturday and Sunday for the first round fixtures of the tournament, with a number of eye-catching ties.
With Bulawayo Chiefs and Yadah FC already eliminated in the preliminary round, 16 sides remain ahead of full-bloodied matches that will be on the menu.
B-Metro Sport takes a look at some of the stand-out matches as some big names look to avoid a shock defeat, as well as a feisty Dynamos versus Highlanders tie.
“It’s like a hurricane coming at you”
CAPS United versus Harare City
Lloyd Chitembwe’s Harare City boast of a fine record in the Chibuku Super Cup and they obviously hope that it will spur them on as they go out in search of a repeat of the 2015 season when they won the tournament.
The Sunshine Boys, who are one of the dominant teams in the tournament since its rebirth five years ago, will be looking forward to causing tremours again in a fixture they will take on Chitembwe’s former paymasters.
“Harare City are a frightening prospect. They are a good side, a team that has previously done well in this competition. It’s like a hurricane coming at you,” said Makepekepe coach Darlington Dodo.
City have previously shone in this contest since they featured in the semis of the inaugural edition in 2014 and then in the 2015 and 2016 finals.
“A great game for us to enjoy”
Chicken Inn v Manica Diamonds
It will be a repeat of Premier Soccer League’s Week 23 fixture that saw Chicken Inn succumb to a two-nil home defeat at Luveve Stadium. The two clubs make a return to the same venue on Sunday to renew their rivalry in this cup contest.
Last year, the Gamecocks, who are one of the PSL title challengers, were banned from the Chibuku Super Cup tournament after they were found guilty of causing the abandonment of their 2017 first-round clash against Yadah FC.
“It’s a great game for us to go and enjoy — that’s the main thing. Two weeks ago, Manica Diamonds beat us 2-0 in a league match which means they are a formidable team. We are preparing for the game and it will be interesting for the fans,” said Chicken Inn boss Joey Antipas
Gamecocks will welcome back speedy forward Obriel Chirinda, midfield enforcer Tichaona Chipunza, roving left back Xolani Ndlovu, Valentine Kadonzvo and enterprising Sipho Ndlovu who were all involved in the Warriors’ match against Lesotho last weekend.
“We will need the very best performance ever”
ZPC Kariba V Hwange
In-form ZPC Kariba get to host league returnees Hwange and Chipangano head coach Nation Dube said his team would relish the usually hostile temperatures in Kariba.
“In Hwange we usually experience simmering temperatures similar to those we are likely to witness in Kariba and we are greatly prepared for that. Every member of the team is looking forward to this game, because we have a big chance to write the history in our way. We are not going there thinking it’s easy, we’ll need the very best performance ever,” said Dube.
Best of the best
Dynamos versus Highlanders
Dynamos targeted winning the Chibuku Super Cup this season to complete a remarkable turnaround to their season which started outrageously, but now carries a silver lining.
The Harare giants have hit a purple patch but when they meet their old foes at National Sports Stadium on Sunday they could be lacking options up front as their new signing Evans Katema is in the treatment room.
The two giants aim to finish the season on a high note and grab the solitary ticket to represent the country at the Caf Confederations Cup inter club tournament.
The Chibuku Cup final will be played in November.
Triangle are the Chibuku Super Cup defending champions and will take on Herentals in a first round match at a date to be announced. The game between FC Platinum and Chapungu has also been shelved.
Triangle and FC Platinum are respectively engaged in their Caf Confederations Cup and Caf Champions League campaigns.
Triangle will on Saturday entertain Tanzania’s Azam FC at Barbourfields Stadium while Pure Platinum play do duty against UD Songo of Mozambique.
Black Rhinos v TelOne (NSS 1pm) Caps United v Harare City (NSS 3pm), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Mushowani (Baobab 3pm), ZPC Kariba v Hwange (Nyamhunga 3pm),
Dynamos v Highlanders (NSS 3pm) Chicken Inn v Manica Diamonds, Triangle United v Herentals (postponed), FC Platinum v Chapungu (postponed) B-Metro