Bulawayo Chiefs, ZRP Bulawayo, ZPC Hwange and Amagagasi make up the last four of the Southern Region Division One League John Landa Liquor Hub Super 8 Tournament.
Bulawayo Chiefs progressed off edging a youthful Bantu Rovers side 2-1, ZRP Bulawayo edged Black Boots 2-1, ZPC Hwange got the better of Technosphere 1-0 while Amagagasi overpowered Victoria Falls Tigers 1-0.
Bantu Rovers were largely made up of Under-21 players and drew first blood through an eighth minute free-kick by Denzel Khumalo.
Rovers won a foul 20 metres outside the goal when a Chiefs defender was adjudged to have used unorthodox means to stop Khumalo, who then picked himself up and struck a shot that deflected off a Chiefs player to beat goalkeeper Winston Chiwetu.
Rovers, who had the audacity to field 15-year-old Nkosilathi Mpofu, held on for 10 minutes before Chiefs equalised through Gracious Muleya, who hit a ferocious shot to beat 19-year-old goalkeeper Elton Sibanda.
Chiefs put the game to bed in the 40th minute through a Joseph Museve header from Trevor Nkomo’s corner kick.
Chiefs’ coach Thulani Sibanda believes their chances of winning the tournament, which is named after the late Vice-President John Landa Nkomo and bankrolled by businessman Raj Modi, are high following the elimination of Rovers.
“It was a good game and Rovers’ youngsters really gave us a good run for our money. Rovers have a good side and they played well. We played well too. We are out of the league championship and we are now focusing on winning this tournament,” Sibanda said.
Rovers’s assistant Agent Sawu was happy with the way the team played and praised his youngsters for a spirited performance.
“We fielded a young side and we are happy with the way they played. Most of our players were Under-20 and the youngest was 15. Obviously we’re disappointed to bow out of the tournament, but the long term goal of giving youngsters a run really paid off,” said Sawu.
In an earlier quarter-final encounter, ZRP Bulawayo edged Black Boots 2-1 to book a place in the last four.
ZRP got their goals from Benboy Chinyanga, who is on loan from Zim Leopards, and former How Mine and Highlanders’ midfielder Lewis Matawu. Black Boots’ consolation goal came from Golden Kamanga.
The winners of the tourney will walk away with $1 500, while the losing finalists take home $800. Losing semi-finalists are guaranteed $400 each, with all the teams that fail to make it past the quarter-final stage pocketing $200 each.
The remainder of the sponsorship package will be used by the Zifa Southern Region to pay for match officials, the police and stadia hire for the tournament.