Harare City eye Chibuku hat-trick

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ta­dious Manyepo in HARARE and Osca Rusenga in CHIREDZI

HARARE City cap­tain Tendai Sa­manja has pre­dicted a tough bat­tle against Tri­an­gle in the Chibuku Su­per Cup fi­nal at Gibbo this af­ter­noon.

Al­though Sa­manja re­mains con­fi­dent the hold­ers will come out tops and make it a hat­trick of Chibuku ti­tles, he urged his team­mates to re­tain max­i­mum con­cen­tra­tion against a plucky Lowveld side who has given a good ac­count of them­selves in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son.

Harare City will make it a third Chibuku Su­per Cup tri­umph if they man­age to find a way past Tri­an­gle, hav­ing won the tour­na­ment in 2015 and 2017.

But, their vet­eran skip­per knows the ter­rain well and warned the match will not be a walk in the park.

“It’s not go­ing to be an easy game but we are ready for the chal­lenge against Tri­an­gle. We have an ex­cit­ing group of play­ers who are ca­pa­ble of win­ning the tro­phy for the team,” said Sa­manja.

For the past four years, the tro­phy has been won by the team play­ing at home.

FC Plat­inum won the tro­phy at their Man­dava turf in 2014, while Ngezi did the same at Baobab in 2016, a feat sand­wiched by Harare City’s suc­cess story in 2015 and 2017 at Ru­faro.

But, the for­mer Monomo­tapa and CAPS United mid­field gen­eral says his team are not look­ing much onto that this af­ter­noon.

The Sunshine City Boys re­cov­ered from an early penalty set­back to level their league match against the same op­po­nents at the same venue some few weeks ago.

“Cup games are cup games. We strug­gled against Tri­an­gle in the league when we vis­ited them but look this is a cup fi­nal where stakes are very high. It will be even tougher.

“We are play­ing a Chibuku Su­per Cup fi­nal for the fourth time and we should have an edge over our op­po­nents in terms of how to ap­proach the match but they are also play­ing on their home turf.

“At the end of the day, it will come down to who shows more char­ac­ter than the other. It’s a game of wits where a team which plays bet­ter than the other on the af­ter­noon will grab the crown.

“We are al­most at a same level with our op­po­nents. If you look at Harare City player by player they are a good unit so is Tri­an­gle.

“We are in for an ex­cit­ing game of foot­ball. But, we have an obli­ga­tion of de­fend­ing the cup which we have in our own cabi­net. We are not putting our­selves un­der any pressure to de­liver the cup home but what we should do is play with heart to try and de­fend it,’’ Sa­manja said.

Win­ners of the cup will earn the right to rep­re­sent the coun­try in the 2019-2020 CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup and Sa­manja is rel­ish­ing that prospect.

“Re­mem­ber win­ning the cup comes with a big in­cen­tive of play­ing in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup next sea­son. Who doesn’t want to be ex­posed in those com­pe­ti­tions? We have to play our hearts out, play for the Harare City badge and try to be as ag­gres­sive as we can to win the match.

“Ba­si­cally, we are ex­pect­ing a tough ride, and I also think Tri­an­gle are ex­pect­ing the same. We need to be clev­erer on the ball than Tri­an­gle.”

Harare City ac­counted for Bu­l­awayo City in the first round, shrugged off High­landers in the quar­ter-fi­nal be­fore dump­ing CAPS United in the semi-fi­nal to book a date against the TSuga Sugar Boys.

Tau­rai Mang­wiro’s men trav­elled a route that had Sha­banie, Cha­pungu and Dy­namos on their way to the fi­nal.

This will be the first time for Chiredzi’s home of foot­ball — Gibbo — to host a ma­jor cup fi­nal and even it’s choice as the venue of this year’s edi­tion has raised some ques­tions.

While Harare City have won Chibuku Su­per Cup twice, Tri­an­gle also won the NetOne One Wal­let Cup in 2014 and for good mea­sure, they beat their op­po­nents this af­ter

noon in the semi-fi­nal of that com­pe­ti­tion at Gibbo. Goal­keeper Ron­ald Mudimu was the hero in that en­counter, sav­ing two spot-kicks, in­clud­ing one from Phineas Ba­musi who is ex­pected to spearhead Tri­an­gle’s at­tack along­side soc­cer star prospect Nhamo Lameck.

Gibbo is not one of the big­gest sta­dia in the coun­try, but has ar­guably the best pitch and Tri­an­gle grounds­man Richard Mudindiro has done his best to make sure the fi­nal will be played on an ex­cel­lent sur­face.

De­spite its size, Gibbo has only been filled to its ca­pac­ity when Tri­an­gle played against Hippo Val­ley FC in a lo­cal derby that was de­ci­sive in de­ter­min­ing who was go­ing to be pro­moted to the top-flight in 2012, when leg­endary late Tri­an­gle coach Gis­hon Ntini was still in charge.

Taku Shariwa was in charge of the op­po­nents, but Ntini came out vic­to­ri­ous.

Tri­an­gle will be with­out the duo of Praise Tonha and Rod­well Mh­langa, who have been ruled out through in­juries, but Mang­wiro be­lieves the play­ers he has at his dis­posal will do the job.

“We are all de­lighted to have got to the fi­nals and we pray that we go on to win the pres­ti­gious tro­phy.

“It’s a first for the Lowveld to play hosts of a cup fi­nal and we urge our fans to come in num­bers to play their part in spurring on the team.

“As a team, we are aware of the threat that the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons will pose to us, but we have pre­pared well as it is our wish to not only win the tro­phy, but also to book the ticket to play in the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

“We are one vic­tory from en­sur­ing at least a top 4 fin­ish in the league and win­ning the cup will en­sure we fin­ish the sea­son with some sil­ver­ware, which will not be a mean achieve­ment. We strive to grow the Hul­lets brand as a way of pay­ing back for the sound spon­sor­ship we have”, he said.

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