THE long-standing rivalry between Dynamos and Highlanders is set to be rekindled tomorrow as the two giants clash in the first leg of the Bob'89 Super Cup at Barbourfields. Organisers yesterday said the stage is now set for the tournament which will be played between the country's oldest and most popular clubs over two legs this year.
The return leg has been set for Rufaro on February 24, with the winners pocketing a US$100 000 cheque while the losers receive US$70 000.
One of the organising committee's members, Valentine Gwenzi, yesterday said all is now set for the clash which, besides the rich monetary rewards, provides both sides with the platform to fine-tune their teams for the new season.
The committee has received financial support from several companies that include ZMDC, Marange Diamonds, BancABC, National Eye Security, Goldtech Electronics, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Lobels and Chicken Slice.
Gwenzi said they have also lined-up a number of entertainment activities in the city of Bulawayo today to be conducted by the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
"As the organisers, we can say that everything is now set for this year's tournament. We have met the teams and agreed on the tournament rules for this year.
"We have already secured the sponsorship to stage a flawless event. We had a fund-raising dinner which grossed about US$192 000 on Wednesday evening. We are very happy for the support we got from the corporate world but our only worry could be the other sponsors who fail to own up to their promises," said Gwenzi.
Dynamos, who are coming from a 0-0 draw with South African side Mamelodi Sundowns in an international friendly match at Gwanzura last Sunday, left for Bulawayo yesterday in high spirits.
The Harare giants will be hoping for improved fortunes in front of goal following the timely recovery of Farai Mupasiri from a back injury.
DeMbare were facing a strikers' crisis because of the injury as they have lost key forwards -- Simba Sithole and Roderick Mutuma -- to the lucrative South African Premiership recently while Martin Vengesai could not renew his contract.
The Dynamos technical team had been worried by Mupasiri's injury as he was the only striker remaining from last year's squad.
Mupasiri had been down for the last two weeks and only began training a few days ago. Coach Callisto Pasuwa, however, was still concerned about his fitness levels.
DeMbare have also beefed-up their frontline and will be hoping to field former Eagles and CAPS United forward Clive Kawinga while Patrick Kumbula, who returned from loan, and new signing Allan Tavarwisa provide other options.
Pasuwa and his men have been working on combinations and sharpening their strikeforce, which appears to be their biggest worry at this stage.
The last time they played Highlanders, the matches ended in identical 1-1 draws in the league last season, where they were running neck-and-neck for the crown.
But DeMbare, who were the eventual winners of the title on goal difference, will field a changed side -- without Mutuma, Sithole and Denver Mukamba -- following the off-season shake-up while Highlanders appear to continue from where they left off last term.
DeMbare, who began their preparations for the new season early last month, are still concerned with fitness of most of their players.
Pasuwa said the game against Sundowns was a good workout and is now looking to make amends in the Bob'89 Super Cup before they embark on their first Champions League assignment against Lesotho Correctional Services next Sunday.
"Talking of the fitness, three quarters of the guys, I think, are coming good. Like you saw in the game against Sundowns, we had Ocean (Mushure) and Thomas (Magorimbo) who were injured. You could see there was a difference with some of the guys like Partson (Jaure), (Gift) Bello, Devon (Chafa) and Tawanda (Muparati), who showed they were much fitter. Maybe it was because these two guys had picked up injuries along the way.
"We faced setbacks because of the various injuries but the good thing is most of the guys are back in training. I have been talking to the new guys and telling them that they are capable of playing better than the guys who are already there. We are encouraging them to play to their full potential," said Pasuwa.
Midfielder, Russel Madamombe, has been ruled out because of injury but Murape Murape, Boban Zirintusa and Muparati are all expected to hold the midfield role.
While DeMbare could be forgiven to talking about fitness issues, Highlanders, who started preparations much later than Dynamos, should be the worse affected of the two sides as was blatantly exposed in their friendly match against Sundowns at Barbourfields, which they lost 2-0.
Pasuwa, however, said they are still expecting a competitive match against their bitter rivals.
"We are playing a good side. Highlanders were playing very well last year and they have maintained their squad.
"They have not made changes to the team that was playing entertaining football and maybe they added a few new faces to their squad. It's going to be interesting," said Pasuwa.
Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu is looking forward to continuity after retaining their squad from last season.
Castle Lager 2012 Soccer Star of the Year finalists Masimba Mambare and Mthulisi Maphosa, Bhekimpilo Ncube, Peter "Rio" Moyo, Milton Ncube, Heritein Masuku, Graham Ncube and Young Warriors' Knox Mutizwa are still at Bosso.
Some of the players who are also expected to lead Bosso against Dynamos include skipper Innocent Mapuranga, the club's 2012 Players' Player of the Year Eric Mudzingwa, Lawson Nkomo and Bruce Tshuma, who scored the late goal that denied DeMbare maximum points in their last meeting at Rufaro.
Highlanders veteran, Bhekithemba Ndlovu, who was the assistant coach then, said they are looking forward to a positive result at home in the first leg.
"It is an honour to be in the Bob'89 Super Cup, it is a very big honour. We are treating this match seriously and although we are still in pre-season, every time Highlanders play Dynamos it is a rivalry thing and there is no friendly match between the two teams.
"We want to win this Cup. Last week, against Mamelodi Sundowns, our players were still heavy and we are still working on fitness and mental strength so that's why we failed to play our normal game.
"But now we have prepared and it would be a good game.
"We are playing at home first and we want to wrap it up, obviously we would want to have a healthy lead at Barboufields before coming to Rufaro.
"We will play to the best of our ability and try to win the first match and maybe go for another win or draw in the second leg.
"We don't have new signings, all the players that featured last season are here so we still have the same squad. Maybe we will add one or two faces," said Ndlovu.