HARARE – Like an old traveller who for the past five years has trod on a lonely road of pain, CAPS United meet How Mine hoping their spirits will be lifted by the experiences of failed campaigns.
Once regarded as the Cup Kings of Zimbabwean football, United have been bordering on mediocrity since winning their last piece of silverware in 2008 – the CBZ Cup.
But a good run in the Mbada Diamonds Cup has given United an opportunity to appease their long suffering fans and perhaps boost their empty coffers.
But before they can entertain any hopes of becoming the second team to win the Mbada Diamonds Cup they have to first pass the hurdle presented by Premiership debutants How Mine.
Like old brooms, United may know all the corners but the gold miners are hoping their new brooms will sweep United clean Sunday afternoon in front of their own home fans and in their own backyard.
Not many would have given United a chance after they laboured to beat relegated Motor Action 7-6 on penalties to sneak into the quarter finals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup.
United then secured a semi-final berth with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Chicken Inn.
Makepekepe will however be encouraged by the promise they have shown at this business end of the season.
The Taurai Mangwiro coached side have closed down the gap between them and log leaders Dynamos to four points.
But their opponents this afternoon have had their own rollercoaster season and will be fancying their chances to go all the way and complete what will be a fairy tale story.
The gold miners earned themselves the moniker ‘giant killers’ after beating Bulawayo giants Highlanders in back-to-back PSL fixtures.
They reinforced that nickname after ending DeMbare’s strangle hold on the competition with a deserved 1-0 quarterfinal.
Now they are two steps away from lifting the most lucrative Cup competition in the land.
Their resolve to beat United will be fuelled by their desire to have an all Bulawayo final.
Such a scenario will see the organisers of the tournament staging the final at a venue in Bulawayo, the first time the three-year old Cup competition will be staged in the City of Kings.
They might be newcomers in the premiership but their squad is laden with a vast array of experienced top flight campaigners.
How Mine’s backline is led by the well-travelled goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s first appearance at the African Nations Cup back in 2004.
How Mine coach Philani ‘Beefy’ Ncube has a solid backline in centre backs Nyasha Mukumbi, Gilbert Banda and the ageless Hebert Dick.
The 32-year-old Menard Mupera is expected to again provide his steady and reliable presence in the centre of the pitch.
The winners of the tournament will take home a cool $130 000 in prize money and $110 000 subsidy for their Caf competition participation.
Losing finalists will walk away with $90 000 for their effort, which is more than what the league championship winners will be rewarded with.
It remains to be seen whether the old traveller’s experience will triumph over the new hands of How Mine.