Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
FC PLATINUM are bracing up for a tricky Chibuku Super Cup final against Ngezi Platinum Stars, with their coach Norman Mapeza wary of the quality of his opponents.
The two platinum miners clash at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane on Sunday.
Both sides are on course to claim their second Chibuku Super Cup accolade since the reintroduction of the tournament in 2014.
FC Platinum won the cup on its first return in 2014, beating Harare City 3-1 after a penalty shootout after a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time.
Two years later, Ngezi took the crown home in their debut Premiership season, beating FC Platinum 3-1 in Mhondoro.
It is, however, five years since Ngezi lifted silverware.
They lost 1-0 to Highlanders in the final of the last edition of the tournament in 2019 before Covid-19 paralysed all sporting activities after Government imposed various levels of lockdowns in the battle against the pandemic from March last year.
For Mapeza and his charges, Sunday’s match is not about inflicting revenge for the loss in the 2016 final.
“We lost the 2016 final to Ngezi after having won the 2014 edition. Then, Ngezi maximised on home advantage. That is history and water under the bridge. What’s important is how we prepare for the game in terms of its entirety and physical condition. We have to go with a positive mind and see how the game progresses,” said Mapeza.
“We’re playing a good team. Ngezi have been playing well, they are a quality side, with quality players and I think (coach) Rodwell Dhlakama has done well since taking over. We respect them, but it’s a game of football. May the best team of the day win the cup.”
The interim national team coach is happy that his charges worked their way to the final and youngsters like Kevin Mangizi, Thando Ngwenya and Panashe Mutimbanyika are excited by the prospect of getting their first medals in professional footbball.
“It’s always good to reach any cup final. I think the hardest part was to qualify for the final, as we played eight matches and the cup final will be our ninth. During those games, much was about checking how our guys were in terms of fitness levels and trying new combinations.
“It really worked well for us because reaching the cup final shows how much we put into those games. All the players are excited, especially the youngsters who will be involved in their first cup final,” Mapeza said.
He has been managing players’ loads and recovery period in the build-up to Sunday’s final. He is also praying that they end their final training session today with a clean bill of health. — @ZililoR