Castle Challenge Cup: ‘Weakened’ Chiefs vs ever-strong FC Platinum

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WHILE Bulawayo Chiefs was hit by an unprecedented player exodus owing to failures in fulfilling financial obligations, FC Platinum not only retained their best players, they further strengthened.

By Bhora Afrika

On the back of contrasting fortunes during Zimbabwe’s off season break, the Castle Challenge Cup at Mandava stadium pits a severely weakened Bulawayo Chiefs against an ever-strong FC Platinum.

The two teams clash at Mandava stadium, in Zvishavane on Saturday at 2pm.

Bulawayo Chiefs’ new coach Lizwe Sweswe only has Mthokozisi Msebe, Felix Moyo, Farawu Matare, and Daniel Veremu from the first 11 Amakhosi fielded in last season’s Chibuku Super Cup final.

It is their 1-0 win over Herentals in that final which earned them a right to kickoff the upcoming season against Pure Platinum Play on Saturday.

While Mapeza’s team selection decisions are easier because he has been with the bulk of his squad for long, Sweswe and his players are going into their first ever competitive game together.

“Just imagine losing almost all the players that were playing week in and week out last year. It feels like starting all over again. But we have a squad that is coming up,” Sweswe told The Herald.

Bulawayo Chiefs’ financial issues were existential at some point. More than a dozen senior players dumped the club after reportedly going for half a year without receiving their salaries.

Former head coach Nilton Terroso left for Portugal before the end of the season purportedly because his work permit had expired. He has not returned.

Thulani Sibanda who took over the baton for the last few games of the season also left to join Triangle United.

Despite all the challenges of the past, that seem to have eased for now, Sweswe is hopeful that his newly assembled team has a fighting chance in the cup final.

“You know with the cup games, sometimes it’s all about the players, how they turn up on the day and how they connect on the field of play,” he said.

Mapeza won FC Platinum its fourth league title on the trot

At FC Platinum, Norman Mapeza, has an almost perfect situation leading to the 2023 Premier Soccer League season opener.

Apart from reinforcing his title winning squad with Perfect Chikwende, Kelvin Gwao, and Jarrison Selemani, Mapeza retained every one of the players that he needed for the 2023 campaign.

All three of the soccer star finalists, Walter Musona, Wallace Magalane, and Gift Bello will no doubt play a pivotal role if Platinum is to win its 4th Castle Challenge Cup.

Trojan horse?
One of the players allowed to leave by the Champions, William Stima, will line up for Bulawayo Chiefs on 11 March.

His experience at the highest level of club football with FC Platinum, and his knowledge of Mapeza’s general tactical approach can help the underdogs cause a ‘cupset’.

Bulawayo Chiefs fans had endure a tough off season (c) Libertino’

It will be folly, even for Mapeza and his Champions, to underestimate the potential of the new look Bulawayo Chiefs.

Veterans like Danny Phiri and Last Jesi among several other new players can continue Chiefs’ cinderella tale from Chibuku Super Cup triumph before a huge crowd on 20 November 2022.

For a club formed only in 2012, the mere fact that they will stand against Champions as Champions of the country’s knockout tournament is a huge compliment.

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