Senior Sports Reporter
A FOOTBALL festival is in store for Bulawayo football faithfuls when the iconic Barbourfields Stadium hosts both semi-finals of the Chibuku Super Cup tomorrow. The PSL announced in mid-week that both semi-finals will be played in Bulawayo at B/F and this will curry favour with locals who missed out on watching their favourite football clubs when the league took all Bulawayo sides out of the city in the first round of this cup competition.
Kelvin Kaindu and his How Mine face Shabanie Mine in the first semi while Mandla Mpofu’s Bulawayo City and Philani ‘Beefy’ Ncube’s Harare City fight it out for municipality supremacy in the other fixture. It has been a long time since B/F has hosted a Premiership event of this magnitude and will surely appeal to locals. On the field of play, all four teams are primed and ready for the challenge.
The four rid football of any lingering thoughts of the ‘big team, small team’ syndrome. Although Shabanie Mine, How Mine and Harare City have cup competition pedigree, the absence of the ‘grander’ sides like Dynamos, Highlanders, FC Platinum and Caps United has failed to take the shine off the semis. In the first encounter, Kaindu will be hoping that his decision in mid-week to rest several of his big name players ahead of the semi-final does not backfire and leave him with egg on his face.
The Zambian gaffer chose to rest his players in favour of a strong performance in the Super Cup which resulted in a 2-1 loss to Bulawayo City on Wednesday. He will now be hoping that the rested players who include Milton Ncube, Peter Rio Moyo, Thembani Masuku and Pascah Manhanga will bring their best to the table and pay back the coach for the extra day of R and R with match winning performances.
A lot will depend on Kaindu’s side’s ability to convert the created chances. How Mine have one of the most mobile and creative midfielders in the league, but have struggled with converting possession into results. Shabanie Mine are all about grit and graft, playing nothing fancy but getting the results.
Brothers Farai and Wilson Mupasiri have been the fuel in Shabanie’s engine, playing with their hearts on their sleeves to spark their team. More often than not this season, the brothers have been the difference for Shabanie Mine and will tomorrow be expected to continue with this role. The second semi-final is expected to be a more confrontational affair. Although Beefy is on record as having wished for a How Mine semi, playing against Bulawayo City will surely open a few wounds and add drama to the tie.
Ncube was fired by Bulawayo City before being engaged by the Sunshine Boys in mid season. His side have generally been well organised and he is known as much for his coaching acumen as he is for his off field and sometimes bizarre beliefs. While no one can take away his coaching ability, this is clouded by rumours of a heavy reliance on juju for results. To his credit, he has never allowed the rumours to derail his career and is slowly building a reputation as the go to guy when a team needs immediate results.
He will call on the cup winning experience of the likes of James Jam and Tendai Samanja to propel his side towards a possible second Chibuku Super Cup title. Harare City’s opponents have had an impressive run in the Super Cup that includes the defeat of Dynamos in the first round.
Their coach, Mpofu has been able to get them to play more like a unit and rely less on individual performances for results. However, the loan signing of forward Ishmael Wadi has proven to be a master stroke for Amakhosi. The gangly Wadi has been on a personal crusade to ensure results for his side and will tomorrow again be expected to lead the charge towards a spot in the final.
His strike partner, Newman Sianchali has rediscovered his goal scoring touch, a scenario that could spell doom for Beefy and his Sunshine Boys. Amakhosi will, however, be without captain Zibusiso ‘Mzimara’ Sibanda who suffered a head injury which will force Mpofu to tinker with his back four.
Article Source: The Chronicle