. . . as top teams clash in first round
Organisers of the Chibuku Super Cup, the biggest knock-out competition in Zimbabwean football tournament, have come under fire following their perennial, yet predictable draw format this week.
The $1,5 million-rich tournament roars into life on September 28, but it is the clash between eternal foes DeMbare and Bosso in the first round, which raised dust.
The two traditional giants have managed to at least draw decent crowds at venues they play countrywide, particularly Rufaro Stadium and Barbourfields Stadium.
Although the rivals have suffered a dip in form lately, no other sides have the capacity to attract numbers to the stadium, more-so when the two meet.
Whatever explanations or justifications may be proffered, the sad reality of it is that the clash of these two teams is the dream final of any sponsor.
This means their first round encounter is virtually the “final before the final” and will poorly affect and reflect badly on the tournament in terms of attendances.
Sports sponsorship is booming; never before has more money been injected into marketing athletes, sports teams or sporting events, and sponsors are always after the crowds.
Triangle United beat Harare City 2-0 to lift the 2018 Chibuku Super Cup at Gibbo Stadium in a poorly attended match, robbing the sponsors of the much needed value they hoped to derive.
Yes, Dynamos and Highlanders may no longer be footballing powerhouses as they were in yesteryear, but they command a huge following and statistics are there to prove it.
In times of advertising message overloads, sport is expected to offer something extremely valuable; real emotions, but are financiers gaining anything out of it?
Are the fans emotionally connected to the game? Is it going to draw good crowds?
Today, sponsorship is the opportunity to run storytelling and content marketing, in times of information and advertising overload, this is especially attractive for brands.
Former football player Alois Bunjira feels sponsors have been disadvantaged by the draw methods.
“A special seeding could be done. Sponsors have been short-changed over the past few years where the finals don’t have any attraction as people decide to go havo kwaZiko kunogocha. Maybe seeding by mightiness . . . ah hameno. I hope I am making sense,” he said.
Senior sports journalist, Makomborero “Gold” Mutimukulu had no kind words for the organisers and aired his concerns on social media.
“Dynamos vs Highlanders in Chibuku first round! Do these people know that draws can be managed?
“Dressed in black suits, feigning sophistication yet they cannot manage a simple draw!
“It’s not a bad idea, it’s horrendous! Cup games need the excitement and the twists! In one not so bright move they have ensured that one of the heavy hitters’ exits in the first round,” he said.
“Ndokusaziva zhali ikoko! Pretending to be professional when you are getting the sting out of the tournament.
“They (Dynamos and Highlanders) are big because of that tradition. I bet a sponsor wants numbers more than good football; bums on terraces rather than class goals!”
Arguing about their position, PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele, said traditional giants were fading with power shifting to well-sponsored teams.
“Are you suggesting a manipulation of the draw or a bye? How were the two paired in the previous editions of the competition? Football is run by the book. The traditional giants know what is expected of them.
“I think the bottom line is nostalgia. Things have changed. The traditional giants are no longer the same. They cannot compete for talent with big corporate sponsored teams. Unless if you are saying they get byes up to 1/8,” Ndebele said.
Teams, which were in the top eight on the league table after Match Day 17, were seeded while the remainder were matched from the ballot.
The quarter-finals of the tournament will be played at the weekend of October 26-27, with the semi-finals scheduled for the weekend of November 9-10.
The final will be held on November 30.
The Chibuku Trophy ran from 1973 to 1988 before it was re-launched in 2014.
The Chibuku Super Cup tournament has brought back memories of yesteryear football legends, who combined to turn the football stadium into a theatre of dreams. Chibuku, as a market leader in the traditional African beer category, has two main packs, the Chibuku Scud a non-carbonated beer, and the Chibuku Super, which is a carbonated sorghum beer brewed with the finest maize and sorghum locally grown in Zimbabwe.
Chibuku Super Cup first round draw
Dynamos v Highlanders
Platinum v Chapungu
Chicken Inn v Manica Diamonds
Black Rhinos v Telone/ Yadah
Caps United v Harare City
ZPC Kariba v Hwange
Triangle United v Herentals
Ngezi Platinum v Mushowani/ Bulawayo Chiefs.