IN June 2006, Tawanda Nyamandwe arrived at Harare giants Dynamos with a reputation as a free-scoring striker who had terrorised opponents in the Zifa Eastern Region Division One side.
His mandate at DeMbare was to fill the big shoes of Evans Gwekwerere who had left the club for South African Premiership side Moroka Swallows.
Gwekwerere had been such a phenomenon at Dynamos and "Finger", as Nyamandwe was known to Kiglon Bird fans, was coming as a direct replacement.
But Nyamandwe buckled under a weight of expectations and never played to his full potential for the Glamour Boys.
The player retraced his footsteps back to Division One at Kiglon where he helped them to win the league championship in 2007 under Lloyd Mutasa.
Nyamandwe was the talisman for Kiglon in their debut season in Division One but in 2010, the giant striker joined Monomotapa.
The prospects of playing in the Champions League could not escape Nyamandwe as he joined Motor Action on loan in 2011 along Kuda Musharu.
Now the 28-year old forward has rejoined Monomotapa and is today bracing for one of the biggest games in his career.
It's also the first time that Monoz are playing in Cup Final since their entry in the Premiership in 2005.
Yesterday Nyamandwe was taking it easy as their team checked into the hotel ahead of the Mbada Diamonds Cup final against Dynamos at Rufaro today.
Nyamandwe has not been in action for the past two weeks because of an ankle injury but his coach Biggie Zuze said the player was available for what promises to be a befitting grand finale to the season.
"Now I am okay and I have been training well.
"I had injured my ankle and this had kept me out of action for two weeks," said Nyamandwe. He is one of the most experienced players at Monomotapa and is well aware of the expectations from the Monoz camp.
This season Monomotapa have charmed the hearts of many neutrals with their brand of passing football and have been rewarded with a place in the Caf Confederations Cup next year, irrespective of the result today.
In the first half of the season, Nyamandwe's lone strike condemned Dynamos to a 1-0 defeat. Nyamandwe's effort gave Monoz the lead in the reverse fixture on November 4 before DeMbare overcame the setback with goals from Simba Sithole and Roderick Mutuma.
"This is a do or die match for us. We have to be at our best to get a positive result.
"This is a Cup Final and anything can happen during the match," said Nyamandwe.
Nyamandwe believes he learnt a thing or two about the institution called Dynamos during his brief stay at the team and that knowledge could come in handy today.
"I once played for Dynamos and I know the team.
"And I also know that their fans would try to frustrate me but we have to remain focused," he said. While it's the first time that Monomotapa are playing in a major PSL Cup Final, Nyamandwe is playing in his second Mbada Diamonds Cup final in as many years.
"Last year I played in the same final when I was at Motor Action and we missed on the silverware.
"Now we are looking forward to a win," said Nyamandwe.
Nyamandwe will be hoping to form a lethal partnership force with Kuda Musharu who also took the loser's medal last year.
"It could be the first time for some of the guys to play in a major final but Musharu and I played last year.
"We were not lucky then.
"This time we have to work hard and it's not about me scoring but anyone in the team can get goals," said Nyamandwe.
Monoz skipper Brian Mapfumo has also refused to be bullied by Dynamos' illustrious history and rallied his troops to upset the apple cart.
Monomotapa also have 2012 Soccer Star of the Year finalist, Ronald "Rooney" Chitiyo, and Osborne Mukuradare in their fold and they both have the potential to open holes in the DeMbare defence.
Chitiyo yesterday said he was not under pressure as he goes into potentially thrilling midfield duel with Denver Mukamba.
Zuze, a former Dynamos player and now coach at Monoz, said his charges were ready for the final.
"We don't have any injuries at the moment and we welcome Tawanda Nyamandwe and Morgan Mangombe who missed the game against Buffaloes.
"Now one will dispute the history of Dynamos that it's a great history.
"But remember that Monoz is the first Zimbabwean team to beat the team which prevailed over Dynamos in the Champions League (Asec Mimosa).
"Monoz are the also the only team to beat the team that Dynamos failed to beat in the league this season.
"We always treasurethe first things that happen so I think that first thing is going to happen on Saturday," said Zuze.