Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
DEFENDING Chibuku Super Cup champions, Harare City, stand in the way of Triangle United in their quest for a first major trophy in the Premier Soccer League.
The two sides clash in a final set for Gibbo Stadium, Triangle this afternoon.
It is the only PSL fixture of the weekend, with the winner of the tournament set to get the right to represent Zimbabwe in the 2019/20 Caf Confederations Cup tournament.
Heading into today’s game, the odds favour City, the tournament’s most successful club since the reintroduction of the Chibuku Super Cup in 2014.
City are making their fourth final in the five editions of the reinvented Chibuku Super Cup. The local authority bankrolled side won two editions, lifting the 2015 title when they beat Dynamos 2-1 and last year when they clobbered defunct How Mine 3-1.
City lost 3-1 after penalties to FC Platinum in the 2014 final.
Triangle coach, Tawurayi Mangwiro, who led City to the 2015 Chibuku Super Cup glory, will be hoping to cap the transformation of the Lowveld side with a trophy.
Being in their first ever major cup final, Triangle are the underdogs, with playing at home being an advantage.
However, Mangwiro isn’t falling for the “home advantage” mantra and wants his players to get the basics right.
“We need to be at our best to win against the defending champions. They are one of the best teams and we expect a tough fight from them.
“We have to manage the pressure that comes with the pleasure of being at home,” said Mangwiro.
Triangle, fourth on the table, will bank on the experience of goalkeeper Ronald Mudimu, defending quartet of Derwin Phiri, Arnold Chiveya, Kudzai Chigwida and Donald Dzvinyai.
Midfielders, Trevor Mavhunga, Ralph Kawondera, Collin Dhuwa, Russel Madamombe and Phineas Bamusi are expected to keep FC Platinum-bound forward Lameck Nhamo with a clean supply of balls.
City have to be at their best to beat Triangle who have only lost five home games to Herentals, Highlanders, Chicken Inn, Black Rhinos and 2016 Chibuku Super Cup champions, Ngezi Platinum Stars.
City have not been good travellers this season, only winning once against Shabanie Mine. They lost to FC Platinum, Ngezi, Highlanders, Nichrut and Bulawayo Chiefs on the road. City shared spoils with their council counterparts Bulawayo City and Mutare City Rovers, Chapungu, ZPC Kariba and Chicken Inn.
City head into today’s final smarting from a 2-0 away loss to Bosso.
A bulk of the players that are at City who include goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupanedengu, defenders Pritchard Mphelele, Munyaradzi Diro-Nyenye and Hastings Chapusha, midfielders Tendai Samanja, Protasho Kabwe and attackers Martin Vengesai as well as Wilfred Muvirimi, were part of last season’s squad that won the Chibuku Super Cup.
In the build-up to the final, City coach Mark Harrison said: “I think it’s going to be a good final but I feel the match should have been played at a neutral venue, being a final. We will go there as underdogs because Triangle United are already at an advantage by playing at home.”
What the Briton forgot is that City played all their cup games leading to the final at home, Rufaro Stadium, first beating Bulawayo City 1-0 in the first round, then dumping Highlanders out of the tournament by posting a 2-0 victory in the quarter-finals before securing a 2-1 win over Caps United in the semi-finals.