Giants seek Chibuku Super Cup redemption
The Chibuku Super Cup kicks off this weekend, with the league's traditional giants eager to make amends in Zimbabwe's premier knockout tournament after finding themselves reduced to mere spectators in the title race.
First on the park are ailing giants Dynamos, who will look to set aside their league woes and focus solely on the job of getting past Bulawayo City in their first-round assignment at Rufaro Stadium on Saturday.
Twenty-four hours later, Highlanders begin their own journey to redemption against Yadah, while former 'Cup Kings' CAPS United host ZPC Kariba at the National Sports Stadium, also desperate for some atonement.
None of the big three has ever won the Chibuku Cup since its inception four seasons ago, although Dynamos did come close after reaching the 2015 final which they lost 2-1 to two-time winners Harare City.
Title rivals Ngezi and FC Platinum also face weak opposition in the form of Herentals and Chapungu respectively, but many observers will be eager to see just how the traditional giants fare in the Cup against the same small teams who have caused them enough trouble in the league.
Dynamos, in particular, have been to hell and back in a miserable campaign that has left them flirting with the scary prospect of relegation, and a first-round exit in the Chibuku Cup would be guaranteed to plunge their camp into full-blown crisis.
Coach Lloyd Mutasa will hope though that the return of captain Ocean Mushure from injury steadies his defence, but young prospect Peace Makaha remains sidelined just as he looked to have regained his sharpness.
It is however in central midfield and upfront where Mutasa has struggled to settle on some consistent combinations, and his team's fate in the tournament could hinge on whether he gets his selections right this time around.
There is still no clarity on Mutasa's first-choice anchorman, even at this late stage of the season, and the same goes for the wide positions, where the only constant in recent weeks has been the returning Denver Mukamba.
Bulawayo giants Highlanders are also in the same predicament where only victory will do for their fans although recent form suggests their first round clash against Yadah could go either way.
Unlike Mutasa, Bosso boss Madinda Ndlovu would have no problems reciting his first eleven from sleep, yet things have not quite worked out in recent months for one of the league's most popular teams.
Ndlovu has put together a relatively youthful and eminently promising outfit, but after some fine performances earlier in the season, things have tailed off.
The midseason return of Denzel Khumalo from development side Bosso99 has added some flair to the midfield, but with Brian Banda, Nigel Makumbe, and Godfrey Makaruse still having issues with consistency, Highlanders have continued to struggle.
Madinda will hope that his players rediscover their sharpness in the Chibuku Cup and give fans some respite after a run of four defeats in their last five games.
CAPS are not in any better position after seeing their title hopes evaporate earlier than expected and, just like their rivals, the Chibuku Cup is their only remaining chance for silverware.