Highlanders, Dynamos, and Caps United are all struggling.

THE struggles of the Big Three — Dynamos, Caps United, and Highlanders  — in the first round of the Chibuku Super Cup at the weekend have given football followers an insight into the surprises that could be in store in this unpredictable and exciting competition.

The Chibuku Super Cup — the biggest knockout tournament in domestic football whose winner earns the right to participate in the Caf Confederation Cup  — roared into life at the weekend with all the 18 Premier Soccer League teams involved in fierce battles.

While there was an avalanche of goals in some matches with FC Platinum romping to a 6-0 victory over premier league returnees WhaWha, Ngezi Platinum getting the better of Triangle 3-1, Chicken Inn overcoming Bulawayo City 2-0 and army side Black Rhinos walloping debutantes Tenax 4-1, it wasn’t so rosy for Dynamos, Caps United and Highlanders.

Having been active in the transfer market and recruiting top players on the domestic scene, expectations were high among their multitude of fans going into the weekend matches.

The build-up to the competition also received media hype which was understandable considering the long period football action had been on hold due to COVID-19-induced lockdown restrictions.

Highlanders, Dynamos, and Caps United are all struggling.

While teams appeared to struggle to get into their grooves supposedly due to a long period of inactivity,  supporters of the Big Three teams, must have been left frustrated with the sluggish start of their respective teams. The show on display suggests that they still have a lot work to do if they entertain hopes of winning the prestigious trophy. It is still early days though.

For Dynamos, winning the trophy has been to eternity. Since its inception, some seven years ago, it has stubbornly eluded them and on Sunday, the Glamour Boys produced a drab performance, failing to get at least a goal in a dour 0-0 draw with lowly Herentals.

By his own admission, coach Tonderai Ndiraya described his team’s display as flat and even suggested they were lucky to escape with a point.

“I thought we were flat and Herentals were better today, they wanted it more, they were more hungry and aggressive, it was just frustrating,” he said.

“We have to work on our mental strength and get maximum points in the next match. We have time to recover.”

City rivals Caps too failed to come to the party, especially in the first half, managing a 2-all draw with lowly Yadah with new recruit Ishmael Wadi scoring a brace which helped save them the blushes. Yadah, to their credit, didn’t show any respect for their more illustrious opponents and took the lead just after 17 minutes through Prosper Kafelapanjila before Tino Mutyembizi doubled the lead just before half time.

Although they secured a vital point, the overall display must have left their supporters dejected and down cast.

For all their struggles, especially in the first half in which they were dominant but failed to turn that superiority into goals, defending champions Highlanders still managed to collect maximum points in a slender 1-0 win over Bulawayo Chiefs courtesy of a headed effort by Washington Navaya.

The overall performance though left a lot of unanswered questions and coach Mandla Mpofu and his men will have to roll up their sleeves if they are to successfully defend their trophy. With Denver Mukamba scoring a stunning brace, including a magical goal, in Ngezi Platinum Stars victory over Triangle and FC Platinum and Chicken Inn cruising to 6-0 and 2-0 victories over WhaWha and Bulawayo City respectively, it will be foolhardy to rule out surprises as the tournament progresses.