23 February 2013

Zimbabwe: When Giants Collide

THE domestic football season is still to get officially underway but the game's fans in the capital aren't complaining with two big games, in a space of a week, exploding in their backyard. Just a week from their Champions League clash against Lesotho Correctional Services, Dynamos take on bitter rivals Highlanders in a battle of the local giants in the second leg of the Bob '89 Super Cup final at Rufaro tomorrow.

Bob '89 Super Cup founder, Stan Kasukuwere, said there will be a parade in Harare this afternoon.

"We have lined up a good roadshow and we want Harare to catch the fever about this big match and we will parade in the capital in the afternoon, after the burial of the national hero," said Kasukuwere.

"This is the biggest match that one can ever get in Zimbabwean football and we hope that it will be a classic that will befit the big occasion that we are celebrating.

"We are inviting entire families to come and join us for a day of fun and we promise them that they will really enjoy it."

DeMbare assistant coach Tichaona Diya, who took charge of the team after his boss Callisto Pasuwa attended a high-level coaching course, yesterday said the Glamour Boys were not resting on their laurels despite taking a first leg lead two weeks ago.

Captain Tawanda Muparati and Patrick Khumbula gave them the advantage in the 2-1 victory at Barbourfields although Bosso managed to keep the contest alive by pulling one back through Beavan Chikaka.

Winners of this pre-season tournament, that is meant to commemorate President Robert Mugabe's birthday, will walk away with a handsome cheque of US$100 000 while US$70 000 has been set aside for the losing side.

These are huge amounts given that DeMbare received US$75 000 for winning the league championship last year and then took away US$100 000 for winning the Mbada Diamonds Cup.

The Mbada Diamonds Cup, though, came with an extra US$150 000 subsidy for the Champions League campaign. Diya yesterday said Dynamos were aware they face a possible backlash from their opponents who always give them a good run whenever the two sides meet.

"It's not over yet because there is still some 90 minutes of football to be played. So it is like we have played the first half of this tie and now we are bracing for the second," said Diya.

"In that case, we will have to take it up from where we left and make the necessary adjustments if need be. I am sure Highlanders have also done their homework because they also want to win it."

DeMbare could draw inspiration from their last two games which they have both won. After beating Bosso in their first meeting, they went on to register a morale-boosting 3-0 thrashing of Lesotho Correctional Services in the first leg of their Champions League preliminary round tie at Rufaro last Sunday.

Dynamos have been complaining about the shortage of personnel upfront after losing key men Rodreck Mutuma and Simba Sithole last month. But that is no longer the case as they now have a choice of five forwards to pick in their team after signing new some players.

Khumbula, who is returning from a loan spell, played in the first leg and scored one of the goals while new signing Allan Tavarwisa could also be fighting for a starting place tomorrow alongside Farai Mupasiri, Washington Pakamisa and Francisco Zekumbawira, who was finally cleared by Hwange this week. But former CAPS United player, Clive Kawinga, is still grounded by an ankle injury and will have to watch tomorrow's final from the sidelines.

Defender Ocean Mushure will take a fitness test this afternoon to determine his availability after recovering from a knee injury.

Mushure missed the team's last game and only started full training this week.

"We had a very good preparation and I must admit we received tremendous support from our executive and the sponsors," said Diya.

"If we continue in that path I think we may go far this year."

He also revealed that besides Kawinga and Milton Makopa, the club has a good bill of health.

"There is good competition and from the look of things it appears everyone is eager to play his part. Some of the players have not seen game time for some time and they need to catch up with the others.

"Mind you we are also using this match to fine-tune for the return leg of the Champions League in Lesotho. So those who are going to play on Sunday are likely to travel to Lesotho if they do well," said Diya.

Highlanders might have lost the first leg of the Bob'89 Super Cup to rivals Dynamos but the Bulawayo giants remain bubbly and yesterday skipper Innocent Mapuranga warned there will be joy and pain in the second leg at Rufaro tomorrow. The Bulawayo giants, who of late have played second fiddle to their bitter rivals, have made it clear that they are coming for revenge. Mapuranga promised to overturn the deficit they suffered in the first leg.

"It's going to be an interesting game because there is a lot at stake here. Of course, we went down with that first leg loss but we are definitely not out of it. What happened in the first leg is now water under the bridge. There is everything to play for and I am sure no-one would want to lose. So we are coming there with a positive mind because we want to win. But this time, we will need to concentrate 100 percent because that is what cost us in Bulawayo. We played so well but still couldn't win. We have trained hard this week and everyone is looking forward to this game," said Mapuranga.

Highlanders will be looking forward to better performances from their players after working on their shortcomings in the last two weeks.

With improved match fitness, Bosso can only hope for the best as they have managed to retain their key players from last season.

They will expect much from players such as Masimba Mambare, Mthulisi Maphosa, Peter "Rio" Moyo, Eric Mudzingwa, Graham Ncube and Bruce Kangwa, who shattered Dynamos dreams the last time they met at Rufaro, with a crucial euqliser.

Kangwa silenced the blue half when he scored a stunning long range effort that deceived goalkeeper George Chigova to earn Highlanders a last-minute point.

Mapuranga urged fans to shun violence at the grounds.

He said what happened at Barbourfields in the aftermath of the first leg match, when supporters turned violent and destroyed cars and injuring a 14-year old boy, was uncalled for.

"Fans must come to the stadium to support their teams and not to fight. In fact football is supposed to bring people together so that they enjoy the action with friends and families.

"So I am saying on Sunday (tomorrow) we want people who pay their money to watch football and those who want to fight must stay at home," said Mapuranga.

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