The Sunday Mail
AFTER bagging the Chibuku Super Cup but before providing two Soccer Star of the Year finalists for the first time in their history, Lowveld side Triangle now wants to add a little more sugar to an already sweet season by claiming the Castle Challenge Cup.
The captain of this ship, Ralph Kawondera who comes from the Kawondera football dynasty, is oozing with confidence ahead of today’s season closing match against league champions FC Platinum at Mandava.
Ralph is not in any way related to former Warriors top striker Shingi, but he comes from a family that has given this nation footballers such as former Darryn T stalwart Raphael, lower division coach Ralph senior as well as former Dynamos and Triangle striker Richard.
His twin brother Raphael Jr and goalkeeper Chamunorwa are also earning their keep in the Division One League.
“It’s a great feeling in Triangle, we worked as a team this season and we now want to cap it all by winning the Castle Challenge Cup,” said the 28-year-old Kawondera.
The Castle Challenge is played between the league champions and winners of the country’s premier football knockout tournament, Chibuku Super Cup.
“It means a lot for the people of Chiredzi, they have been behind us all season and they deserve to enjoy these sweet times,” said the 28-year-old Kawondera.
Having toiled hard in search of glory at clubs like Kambuzuma United, Highfield United, Twalumba, Flame Lily and Herentals, the utility Kawondera, who is comfortable either as a D-Link or at centre back, has finally found his groove at Triangle.
He was tipped for the 2018 Soccer Stars of the Year calendar but sadly missed out, with his teammates Nhamo Lameck and speed merchant Phineas Bamusi making the final XI.
Triangle coach Taurai Mangwiro, who is the joint November Coach of the Month with FC Platinum gaffer Norman Mapeza, whom he faces today, thinks Kawondera deserved a place amongst the best.
“I was actually tipping him (Kawondera) for the calendar but I wouldn’t want to take away anything from those selected.
“Remember we were the fourth best team in the league, the champions FC Platinum have three players on the calendar so who are we to ask for more,” Mangwiro told The Sunday Mail Sport.
“But I would like to believe we showed a lot of potential in this season. Last season we finished ninth and bowed out of the Chibuku Super Cup at the first hurdle.
“This year we are fourth and we are the Chibuku Super Cup champions. And now we have the Castle Challenge Cup ahead of us.
“It’s a game worth winning because we want to end on a high. People will always remember us more for the last thing we did.
“All the games we have played against FC Platinum have been very close and entertaining so I hope this one is no exception,” said Mangwiro.
The Sugar Sugar Boys enjoy a better head to head over Pure Platinum Play in the 2018 season, having held the Zvishavane side 0-0 in May before winning 3-1 at Gibbo in the reverse fixture.
FC Platinum coach Mapeza is likely to rest his key players as the miners have a looming midweek CAF Champions League fixture against CNaPs of Madagascar.
Pure Platinum Play drew 1-1 in Madagascar and the return leg is at Mandava on Wednesday.
“It has been a very tight program for us, we arrived from Madagascar on Thursday night and travelled to Zvishavane the following day so it will be all about mental strength.
“We know the challenge we are facing. Thumbs up to Tau (Mangwiro), he has done really good and it’s for everyone to see,” said Mapeza.