Battle of the champions…Ngezi Platinum, Dynamos  face off in season opener Takesure Chiragwi

Innocent Kurira, [email protected]

THE 2024 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season is about to kick off with a bang! 

The Castle Challenge Cup, the traditional curtain-raiser, will feature a mouth-watering clash between league champions Ngezi Platinum Stars and Chibuku Super Cup champions Dynamos. Some may dismiss it as a glorified friendly, but this is more than just a warm-up game. This is a battle for pride, glory, and bragging rights.

Ngezi Platinum made history last year by winning their first league title since their promotion to the topflight league in 2016. 

They dethroned FC Platinum, who had won it four times in a row and proved themselves as the best team in the country. 

Ngezi Platinum’s Takunda Benhura and Dynamos midfielder Donald Mudadi

But they also suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of Dynamos, who beat them 2-0 in the Chibuku Super Cup final. It was Dynamos’ first major trophy in nine years, and a sweet revenge for losing the league title race to Ngezi.

Now the two sides will meet again in the Castle Challenge Cup, which serves as the season opener. 

The big question is: will the two sides set the tone for the 2024 season? Here is what to look forward to ahead of the cup final.

Will Ngezi get their revenge?

The two sides met in the Chibuku Super Cup final last year and Dynamos won the tie 2-0. It was a convincing win for DeMbare, who outplayed the league champions in their own backyard. NgezI’s poor performance in that final was attributed by some to the hangover of the club having won their maiden league title. 

On the day, Dynamos were the hungrier of the two sides and it will be interesting to see if Ngezi will manage to rise to the occasion this time around. A victory for the league champions will perhaps be a sign that their league title win was no fluke, but a symbol that they are now a force to reckon with on the domestic scene.

Genesis  Mangombe

Ngezi to unleash Chirinda on DeMbare

There is no doubt Obriel Chirinda will fancy finding the back of the net against Dynamos. The striker has been the subject of controversy in the transfer window, with DeMbare accusing the former Bulawayo Chiefs striker of duping them by signing a contract with them before going on to sign with Ngezi. 

The player himself denies having signed for DeMbare, but the Glamour Boys did approach him with their coach Genesis Mangombe believed to have travelled to Bulawayo to persuade the highly rated goal poacher to join the Blue Army. Chirinda, however, had other ideas as he went on to sign for Ngezi. 

Chirinda is likely to face jeers and boos from the DeMbare fans, who will certainly outnumber the home fans at Baobab. It will be a test of mental strength for Chirinda, who has been known to lose his temper in the past. Either way, if he starts in this one, his duel with the Dynamos defense is worth watching.

DeMbare chase first Challenge Trophy

The Castle Challenge Cup is one trophy Dynamos do not have in their rich trophy cabinet. They have never participated in the competition since its introduction in 2017. 

They will be hoping to add this one to their collection, while at the same time reminding the nation of their giant status. Dynamos are the most successful club in the country. 

But they have been in the shadows of FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum in recent years. Winning the Castle Challenge Cup would be a statement of intent for the new season and a boost of confidence for the players and the fans.

Takesure Chiragwi

What the coaches said ahead of the final

Genesis Mangombe: “Playing away; it’s not going to be easy, they will try to disappoint us. These games have tension. We have to be mentally fit to handle the pressure that comes with games of this magnitude.”

Takesure Chiragwi: “Obviously, playing at home gives us an advantage. It’s good for our supporters who have been longing to watch some football action to have the chance to watch their team. As the technical team, this gives us a clear picture of where we are in terms of preparations for the league and upcoming competitions.”

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