The Sunday Mail
LAST season’s Chibuku Super Cup finalists Herentals might have been handed a tough quarterfinal opponent in two-time finalists Ngezi Platinum Stars but their coach Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva is confident his charges can go all the way in this year’s competition.
After all, the Students have never lost a Chibuku Super Cup contest against Madamburo.
Herentals lost 1-0 against Bulawayo Chiefs in last year’s final at Barbourfields Stadium.
On Tuesday, they were drawn against Ngezi in this year’s quarterfinals.
They clash on September 30 at a venue yet to be announced.
This is the third time the Students are meeting Madamburo in the country’s premier knockout tournament.
The two sides met in a first-round clash in 2018 and Herentals prevailed 4-3 after a penalty shootout, before losing to Dynamos in the last eight.
Herentals repeated the feat in last year’s first-round clash, edging Madamburo 2-1 in their own backyard, before progressing all the way to a historic appearance in the 2022 Chibuku Super Cup final.
“Ngezi Platinum Stars are a tough opponent; a team that is flying high in the league and determined to achieve something special,” Mutiwekuziva told The Sunday Mail Online.
Ngezi are leading the 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table with 42 points after 22 rounds of action.
“We have to give it our best and work towards achieving our objective.
“We reached the final last year, so we have the belief and determination to go further,” added Mutiwekuziva.
The underrated coach is hoping that in-form striker Tinotenda Benza (22) maintains his goal-scoring streak and carries his league form to the Chibuku Super Cup competition.
Benza scored a brilliant free-kick when Herentals stunned Ngezi Platinum Stars 2-1 in a league match at Mandava Stadium on September 2.
The 2022 Soccer Star of the Year finalist is now on six goals, three behind the chart-topping duo of Obriel Chirinda (Bulawayo Chiefs) and Fortune Binzi (Manica Diamonds).
“Tinotenda (Benza) has had a huge impact on the team this season,” reckons Mutiwekuziva.
“He gives the team confidence in attack, but I still demand more from him and all the other forwards,” he said.
Benza – a former Young Warriors player and the 2022 Chibuku Super Cup Golden Boot winner – has made huge strides in his game this term.
Last season, he was voted Herentals’ Player of the Year, a few days after he had made history by lining up with his then 50-year-old father Innocent in the Chibuku Super Cup final against Bulawayo Chiefs on November 20.