Chiefs, ZRP Byo, ZPC Hwange, Ama­ga­gasi in Su­per 8 semis

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo Se­nior Sports Re­porter

BU­L­AWAYO Chiefs pro­gressed to the semi-fi­nals of the in­au­gu­ral South­ern Re­gion Di­vi­sion One League Landa John Liquor Hub Su­per 8 Tour­na­ment af­ter beat­ing a youth­ful Bantu Rovers side 2-1 in the quar­ter-fi­nals played at White City Sta­dium yes­ter­day.

Bantu Rovers, who rested al­most all their reg­u­lars, with only at­tack­ing mid­fielder Al­ton Ndlovu be­ing the old­est mem­ber of their team at 21 years old, drew first blood cour­tesy of an eighth minute free-kick by Den­zel Khu­malo.

Rovers won a foul 20 me­tres out­side the goal when a Chiefs de­fender was ad­judged to have used un­ortho­dox means to stop Khu­malo, who then picked him­self up and struck a shot that de­flected off a Chiefs player to beat goal­keeper Win­ston Chi­wetu. Rovers, who had the au­dac­ity to field 15-year-old Nkosi­lathi Mpofu, held on for 10 min­utes be­fore Chiefs equalised through Gra­cious Mu­leya, who hit a fe­ro­cious shot to beat 19-year-old goal­keeper El­ton Sibanda. Chiefs put the game to bed in the 40th minute through a Joseph Mu­seve header from Trevor Nkomo’s cor­ner kick. Chiefs’ coach Thu­lani Sibanda be­lieves their chances of win­ning the tour­na­ment, which is named af­ter the late Vice-Pres­i­dent Landa John Nkomo and bankrolled by busi­ness­man Raj Modi, are high fol­low­ing the elim­i­na­tion of Rovers.

“It was a good game and Rovers’ young­sters re­ally gave us a good run for our money. Rovers have a good side and they played well. We played well too. We are out of the league cham­pi­onship and we are now fo­cus­ing on win­ning this tour­na­ment,” Sibanda said.

Rovers’ as­sis­tant coach Agent Sawu was happy with the way the team played and praised his young­sters for a spir­ited per­for­mance.

“We fielded a young side and we are happy with the way they played. Most of our play­ers to­day are Un­der-20 and the youngest was 15. Ob­vi­ously we’re dis­ap­pointed to bow out of the tour­na­ment, but the long term goal of giv­ing young­sters a run re­ally paid off,” said Sawu.

In an ear­lier quar­ter-fi­nal en­counter, ZRP Bu­l­awayo edged Black Boots 2-1 to book a place in the last four.

ZRP got their goals from Ben­boy Chinyanga, who is on loan from Zim Leop­ards, and for­mer How Mine and High­landers’ mid­fielder Lewis Matawu. Black Boots’ con­so­la­tion goal came from Golden Ka­manga.

The other teams which sailed through to the semi­fi­nals are ZPC Hwange, who beat Tech­no­sphere 1-0 on Satur­day, and Ama­ga­gasi, who edged Vic­to­ria Falls Tigers 1-0 yes­ter­day.

The win­ners of the tour­ney will walk away with $1 500, while the los­ing fi­nal­ists take home $800. Los­ing semi-fi­nal­ists are guar­an­teed $400 each, with all the teams that fail to make it past the quar­ter-fi­nal stage pock­et­ing $200 each.

The re­main­der of the spon­sor­ship pack­age will be used by the Zifa South­ern Re­gion to pay for match of­fi­cials, the po­lice and sta­dia hire for the tour­na­ment. — @ZililoR

Chiefs coach Thu­lani Sibanda

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