The Sunday Mail
DESPITE the Premier Soccer League outlining the tournament rules and regulations before its start each season, Harare City coach Lloyd Chitembwe remains baffled with the Chibuku Super Cup draw.
Chitembwe’s men were drawn to play Ngezi Platinum Stars in the first of the semi-final clashes on Saturday and the Sunshine Boys will have to travel to Baobab in Mhondoro for the encounter.
The PSL have always stressed that coming out of the hat first does not necessarily mean that such a club would be at home as the rules state that it is the league’s chiefs, in consultation with the tournament sponsors, who will decide on the dates and venues of all matches.
On Saturday, Harare City will technically be the home team although Baobab is the Ngezi base.
Chitembwe, however, argues that the draw gives an unfair advantage to the platinum miners despite them being an away team.
“Personally to me as a coach it is all puzzling and it boggles my mind that you are said to be a home team but you are playing away from home, you do not enjoy the home advantage that comes with playing at home.
“Besides, Ngezi Platinum Stars are at an advantage as they had a full week to prepare for the match but at the end of the day we have to do what we are supposed to do and get a positive result,” Chitembwe told Sunday Mail Online.
Harare City put on a lukewarm performance in a quarter-final match against Triangle on Wednesday with the game ending in a 0-0 stalemate in regulation time before being decided by the penalty lottery.
Triangle, fresh from representing Zimbabwe in the 2019 Confederation Cup, fell 3-1 on penalties.
“On the flip side, we are very happy, very excited to have qualified for the semi-finals and we hope to fight another day in the Chibuku Super Cup,” said Chitembwe.
Despite fighting relegation in the last two seasons, Harare City have somehow found a way to be a dominant feature in this tournament since 2014, winning it twice and losing it as many times in the final.
But Chitembwe thinks otherwise: “We have been doing well in the Premier League and it’s not about the Chibuku Super Cup but we should give credit where it due the players have done a great job.
“The boys have been fantastic especially in the run-up to this match, they have been great and what could have affected our game on Wednesday is the number of games we have played in a short space of time and the players gave us a result which we desperately needed at this stage of the competition,” said Chitembwe.
The former CAPS United coach now hopes to guide the Sunshine Boys to their fifth Chibuku Super Cup final appearance.
“It’s very difficult when you want to give these boys some time to rest and regenerate, there is no time to train and prepare for the next game but at the end of the day these are professional players who know what is expected of them.”
Ngezi coach Rodwell Dhlakama, who saw his side booking a place in the semi-final after knocking out Black Rhinos 5-3 on penalties following a goalless draw in regulation time, is also confident of victory for the 2016 winners.
“I am one coach who wants to achieve more, I have won before so I am not under pressure. The only challenge that I have for now is that I want to win something with Ngezi Platinum Stars and it is something that is achievable and I will be excited to win a major trophy with them,” said Dhlakama.
The former Chapungu coach said local coaches should accept the trend of a hectic schedule which has now become a norm globally.
“Each and every club has experienced the same, we were under the same situation when we played Black Rhinos. If we want to grow as country then we have to adapt to such situations,” said Dhlakama.
The other semi-final will see ZPC Kariba and Highlanders squaring off at Barbourfields on Sunday.