Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
BULAWAYO teams seeded to be at home in the first round of the Chibuku Super Cup will not enjoy home advantage but will instead, play their knockout games out of the city.
Championship title contenders Chicken Inn open their Chibuku Super Cup account home-away at Gweru’s Ascot Stadium this afternoon against Yadah FC with the same venue playing host to How Mine-Bantu Rovers encounter tomorrow.
Bulawayo giants Highlanders will be hoping to go beyond the first round against Harare City at Mandava Stadium tomorrow.
The three teams – Chicken Inn, Highlanders and How Mine – were reportedly unhappy with the decision to be home-away in the first round, a decision that the Premier Soccer League said was beyond their control.
The league say they avoided having matches involving Premiership teams in Bulawayo as that would have been counter-attraction to the Cosafa Women’s Championship which ends tomorrow at Barbourfields Stadium.
“The Bulawayo City Council advised us that facilities in Bulawayo will only be available after the Cosafa Women’s Championship. For the good of the game, we decided not to have any counter-attractions and let the regional games end. We therefore arranged fixtures in such a manner that we identify the nearest approved stadium for these teams and that is why they are playing in Ascot and Mandava.
“What you should also note is that as much as the clubs wanted to play in Bulawayo, because of the congestion that we are trying to avoid this was the best way to handle the situation,” said PSL communications manager Kudzai Bare.
The Gamecocks were of the view that the PSL should have given them an opportunity to choose their venue of choice, with indications that they had preferred to play in Hwange, a move that would have taxed Yadah FC as they would have had to endure the long journey from Harare.
A tough game awaits Chicken Inn who had their nine-match unbeaten run in the league halted by Yadah FC who beat them 2-1 a fortnight ago.
Chicken Inn will be wary of Yadah FC and their attitude could be different from that of the league game where they looked casual.
Meanwhile, Highlanders who are technically out of the Premiership title race and hard-pressed to end the season with some silverware, will need to up their game in the Chibuku Super Cup whose winners will represent Zimbabwe in the Caf Confederation Cup.
Coach, Erol Akbay, said his desire is to leave the club with a piece of silverware and believes they have what it takes to win the Chibuku Super Cup. The Dutchman will leave Bosso at the end of the season.
However, Akbay was quick to point out that Harare City, who gave them a scare at Barbourfields stadium when they drew 0-0 in a league match, are tricky opponents.
“Harare City are not an easy team because they have technically good players in their squad. We are going to do everything to make sure that we go through to the quarter-finals.
“We want to win this tournament and end the season with a major cup which means we have to work hard. It is possible to win this tournament because you only have to do well in four games – the first round, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final,” said Akbay.
The Highlanders coach is also hoping that his charges build-up from their impressive performance against Dynamos.
Last season Highlanders were knocked out in the semi-finals by Ngezi Platinum Stars who went on to lift the title at the expense of FC Platinum.
Ngezi Platinum will begin their title defence against league champions Caps United, in what is probably the pick of the first round.
Today: FC Platinum v Chapungu (Mandava), Black Rhinos v Triangle United (Rufaro), Chicken Inn v Yadah FC (Ascot)
Tomorrow: Dynamos v Bulawayo City (Rufaro), Ngezi Platinum v Caps United (Baobab), ZPC Kariba v Shabanie Mine (Nyamhunga), How Mine v Bantu Rovers (Ascot), Highlanders v Harare City (Mandava)