HARARE – Against all expectations, How Mine will be playing African continental football next year after reaching the final of the Mbada Diamonds Cup by beating CAPS United 4-2 on penalties on Sunday at the National Sports Stadium.
The match had finished 2-2 in regulation time.
In the final How Mine will now face fellow Bulawayo side Highlanders, who also needed a 5-3 penalty shoot-out win to dump Harare City out of the competition on Saturday.
PARTY TIME: How Mine players are joined by fans in celebration after their Mbada Diamonds Cup semifinal victory over CAPS United at the National Sports Stadium yesterday. Picture: Watson Ofumeli
The date and venue of the final are yet to be decided but by all indications Barbourfields Stadium is likely to be chosen as the host.
Highlanders are currently serving a three-year Confederation of African Football (Caf) ban from continental football.
This paves the gold miners to be Zimbabwe’s representatives in the African Confederation Cup next year since Bosso are ineligible.
Yesterday, Hardlife Zvirekwi and Moses Muchenje were the United villains after failing to beat Ephraim Mazarura from 12 yards to give How Mine the win.
Tendai Samanja and Ronald Pfumbidzayi were the only Makepekepe players successful from the spot.
For How Mine, Menard Mupera, Xolisani Moyo, Mazarura and Brightone Dube were all on target in the shoot-out while Khumbulani Banda missed his kick.
United will feel they should have wrapped up this match in regulation time after going ahead through Rahman Kutsanzira’s 40th minute strike.
But How Mine are made of much sterner stuff and turned the match on its head when they scored two quick goals after the break.
The Bulawayo side were level five minutes after the break when Warren Dube’s cracker from outside the box beat Tafadzwa Dube.
Chikurupati were in the in the lead four minutes later when the veteran Menard Mupera rolled back the years with perhaps the goal of the tournament to give How Mine a 2-1 advantage.
The 32-year-old midfielder beat Dube with a thunderous long range drive.
The Bulawayo side were good value for their lead after turning on the screws on United since the start of the second half.
But United, who had started the match with so much promise, levelled matters five minutes later after Tawanda Nyamandwe rose highest to head home a Zvirekwi cross.
There were no more goals in the second half and the two teams had to settle for a draw before the tie was decided by the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
Unfortunately for Makepekepe it was not their day as their normally reliable penalty takers Zvirekwi and Muchenje froze when it mattered most.
United coach Taurai Mangwiro was disappointed by the missed opportunity of reaching a cup final.
“We have done fairly well I would like to think, I’m sure we have surpassed the expectations of many,” he said.
“Today we had been given a good chance but at the end of the day we will look back and say this is an opportunity blown away. We knew very well that our season hinges on this result unfortunately we didn’t take the opportunity.
“But to the Caps family we lost today but let’s not look down upon ourselves.”
His opposite number, Philani “Beefy” Ncube was naturally a happy man.
“Getting into the final is a bonus to me. We just wanted to compete not knowing we will be in the final. Mangwiro has done well but unfortunately Philani Ncube had planned for them,” h esaid.