3 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Stage Set for Harare Derby

AFTER several postponements, the first instalment of the Harare derby is finally here and local fans can look forward to a potentially explosive encounter between the capital city's biggest clubs at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.

It is that encounter that divides the capital city into blue and green, some times degenerating into violence.

But since time immemorial, it has bordered around one jinx and record or another.

And celebrating the 40th year, it is Dynamos who wallow in the wrong side of the jinx, having failed to beat their archrivals in the last five attempts since 2014.

Funny how the pendulum swings the other way, which only last year, it was the blue half of the city mocking their green counterparts for having failed to record a single win in seven years.

On a sunny May Day last year, striker Dominic Chungwa scored the only goal that gave CAPS United their first victory over DeMbare since 2009.

"In football, history is meant to be broken. You know, Dynamos has been beating CAPS United and Highlanders in the past, but last year we lost to both teams. The same can happen today and see us beat CAPS United for the first time in three years," DeMbare coach, Lloyd Mutasa said.

Mutasa has every reason to be confident heading into today's encounter. After all, the Glamour Boys have won all of their last five matches and are in top form.

Matches between the two teams have never been easy. Since 2000 they have met 34 times and Dynamos have won 12 of those, with CAPS United winning 11 times, while the other 11 ended in stalemates.

CAPS United assistant coach Fungai "Tostao" Kwashi emphasised the importance of winning the derby in the green family.

"It's a big thing for the CAPS family to beat Dynamos and have the bragging rights. A lot is at stake in this fixture. Lloyd has done well with a new team; they have five wins from five game. We are also confident in our game and we hope to come up trumps again today," he said.

Pundits always want to look for signs in the week preceding a big match to pick the favourite to win the encounter.

Apart from the blow from suspension of chief in-form striker Dominic Chungwa, who ironically decided the first installment of the derby last year coupled by the recent departure of key players Ronald Chitiyo, Ronald Pfumbidzai and Abbas Amidu, the champions were also hit by a player strike over unpaid salaries and bonuses.

And their training session saw their supporters presenting some grocery hampers for the players, probably an intervention designed to get the best out of the players.

But Kwashi reckons the derby needs no motivation at all.

"Derby week, you don't need anyone to push you. The game is self-motivating to the players. It is a big game," he said.

"There is animosity always when Dynamos and Caps United play each other, but it's a healthy animosity and every country needs it in their football. The only problem comes when there is violence because in football there should always be a winner."

After losing left back Pfumbidzayi, who joined Bloemfontein Celtic earlier this week, the Green Machine will also be without suspended Chungwa and Justice Jangano who is injured.

It has been a rather quiet week for Dynamos apart from the uncertainty that hung over top scorer Christian Epoupa's availability, as well as skipper Ocean Mushure, who were reported to be on the radar of some South African clubs ahead of the transfer deadline on Thursday.

Epoupa's absence from training on Thursday fuelled more speculation that he mayhave left for South Africa.

DeMbare will miss the injured Carlos Rusere and Musa Madhiri while Marshal Machazane is set for a late fitness test.

Meanwhile, Gwanda-based referee Nkosana Nduna has been tasked to take charge of the clash and will be assisted by Salani Ncube and Brighton Nyika, while Zibusiso Nkomo and Albert Mamvura are the fourth official and match commissioner respectively.

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