Fans turn to Mbada Cup for comfort

HARARE - Following the national side’s shattering failure to qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals in South Africa, Zimbabwean football fans will this weekend turn to the country’s richest knockout competition for solace when Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-finals explode into life in four difference centres.

The Mbada Cup fever will grip Chiredzi and Kwekwe, who will witness top flight clubs play in their respective towns for the first time this season.

Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane will get the ball rolling on Saturday when it hosts the fierce local rivalry between FC Platinum and Shabanie Mine.

The Zvishavane derby has emerged in in recent years as one of the fiercely-contested in the local Premiership, often dividing both sets of players and fans in a clash that leaves the small mining town into a virtual standstill.

About 185 kilometres east of Zvishavane, another battle for supremacy will be brewing in Chiredzi between CAPS United and Buffaloes.

The two sides clash at Gibbo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the PSL league title now out of reach for CAPS, the Green Machine camp believes lifting the Mbada Cup will appease their success-starved fans, who have endured the most traumatising season under axed-coach Sean Connor and later on the Northern Irishman’s successor Taurai Mangwiro.

However, PSL newcomers Buffaloes, who have been exhibiting a good brand of attacking football this season, will not be easily cowed by the former Zimbabwe champions.

Buffaloes hail from the eastern border city of Mutare, some 40 kilometres from where the alluvial diamonds are mined by Mbada Diamonds Company. The Manicaland outfit believes winning the Mbada Cup is a befitting honour for the people of their home province.

The on Sunday Hwange will host Highlanders against Monomotapa in another potential thriller.

Bosso have this season awoken from a six-year deep slumber and are currently challenging for the league title in a race they trail log leaders Dynamos by two points with five games left in the season.

On the other hand, Biggie Zuze’s Monomotapa occupy fourth place on the log standings with 44 points, 14 points adrift of log leaders Dynamos. The Harare side is all but out of the running for the championship, and will know their good form may count nothing if they fail to cap their season with silverware.

In Kwekwe, league champions Dynamos and Gunners will set Kwekwe’s Baghdad Stadium alight in a match that also has all the ingredients for a thriller. Gunners’ are third from bottom with 22 points.

Gunners’ Premiership survival is uncertain following a string of poor results.

To some extent, the former champions’ problems have been a product of Dynamos, who recruited a good number of their players to bolster their title credentials.

This encounter will be a good platform for Gunners to salvage something special out of a troubled season.

QUARTER-FINAL FIXTURES

Saturday: FC Platinum v Shabanie Mine (Mandava Stadium, Mandava), CAPS United v Buffaloes (Gibbo Stadium).

Sunday: Dynamos v Gunners (Baghdad), Highlanders v Monomotapa (Colliery).

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