Ngezi, DeMbare bring curtain down
Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
TAKESURE Chiragwi must the most popular coach in Zimbabwe at the moment after leading Ngezi Platinum Stars to their maiden league title.
Chiragwi needed one full season at the helm to prove his mettle, having previously been relegated to the position of assistant coach and working under two different coaches at the Mhondoro side in the last three years.
But he quashed all the doubts that the Ngezi Platinum Stars board might have had after transforming the side to championship material within 12 months of his appointment as substantive head coach.
He could seal his fairy-tale with a double, if they win the Chibuku Super Cup final at Baobab tomorrow.
It will be a new club record if the Mhondoro side win the two major competitions in the domestic league. They are also on the verge of equalling the record held by FC Platinum and Harare City of being the only teams to win two Chibuku Super Cup titles since its inception in 2014.
They won it for the first time in their debut season in 2016. This is the fourth Chibuku Super Cup final appearance for Ngezi Platinum Stars.
But they face a mountainous task against giants Dynamos, who are also keen to end the season with silverware to decorate their 60th anniversary.
Chiragwi however, is confident of his team.
“The reason for us to be crowned champions is because they knew exactly that we need to play and win games and it’s a competition,” said Chiragwi.
“Now we are facing the final, which is the most important prize for us. We really need to finish on a high note and we just need to shift focus.
“We need to focus on the Chibuku Super Cup final. We know these guys have been doing this the entire season. Nothing new, we believe in them and they are professionals.”
The Mhondoro side won the Chibuku Super Cup in 2016 under the guidance of Tonderai Ndiraya.
They also reached the final twice in 2019 and 2021 under Rodwell Dhlakama.
They started this year’s campaign with a 2-1 win over Triangle courtesy of goals from Marlvin Gaki and Takunda Benhura.
They went on to eliminate last year’s finalists Herentals in the quarter-finals.
Reserve goalkeeper Chang Mariyoni was the hero in a penalty shoot-out victory.
With their Number One goalie Nelson Chadya on national duty, Mariyoni was the difference between winning and losing after making a string of saves before denying Joseph Maliselo in the 5-4 penalty shoot-out win.
The Glamour Boys, on the other hand, are plotting to spoil the party in Mhondoro.
They have expressed a strong desire to win the Cup for the first time, especially after losing out on the league title and finishing third in the marathon.
“We failed to win the league championship and we also failed to finish in second position,” said Dynamos coach Genesis Mangombe.
“So, this time around we want to make sure that we try and make our fans happy by winning the Chibuku Super Cup.
“It’s good for me on a personal level and for the club because at the end of it all, you have to say I managed to achieve and win this medal.
“We are trying our level best to win the cup and add it on our trophy cabinet. We have done well this season and the cup can cap it off. It will be the biggest achievement for us this year.
“We are going to do everything we can in the field of play in order to win the final,” said Mangombe.
Dynamos have never won Chihuku Super Cup and this is only the second time in the history of the competition that they have reached the final. DeMbare’s best performance was reaching the finals in 2015.
This year they beat new boys Simba Bhora 1-0 in the first round, thanks to a second half strike by Emmanuel Paga at Barbourfields. They then accounted for former champions FC Platinum via a penalty shoot-out at Mandava, following a 1-1 draw in the quarter-finals.
Mangombe’s men continue with their form in the semi-finals and were impressive 2-0 winners over CAPS United, thanks to goals from Issa Sadiki and rookie forward Elton Chikona.
Winners of the Chibuku Super Cup will pocket US$75 000 prize money and a ticket to represent Zimbabwe in the next edition of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Dynamos will play in Africa whether they win or not. With Ngezi Platinum Stars already assured of CAF Champions League football by virtue of winning the league title, Dynamos will be given the first preference, as cup runners-up, to play in the Confederation Cup next season.
According to the CAF Regulations on Engagements, “If a federation is entitled to one club, the National Cup Winner will be engaged to CAF Confederation Cup.
“If this National Cup Winner of a federation cannot be engaged to CAF Confederation Cup for various reasons, the Interclubs Committee reserves the right to accept the runner up of the cup by virtue of an application to be submitted in accordance with the regulations of the federation and /or the present regulations.”