Big Battle this weekend


Well, it seems that big game is upon us once again.
It’s the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match between Dynamos and Highlanders at Rufaro Stadium in their third meeting of the year.

The first — the Independence Trophy final on April 18 — ended in a loss for Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium. The second and the reverse league fixture — on Easter Monday — was scoreless at Barbourfields Stadium.

Now new Dynamos coach Calisto Pasuwa has to try and gain some measure of revenge for that cup loss over “youngster” Mkhuphali Masuku.

The duo played for their clubs with distinction and were among the players who contributed to the celebrated status which the clubs enjoy today.

However, all that could change after tomorrow’s match. This is one match that promises to have far-reaching repercussions on their status as club legends as well as to their young but promising coaching careers.

For Pasuwa, he has endeared himself to the hard-core Dynamos fans since taking over from another club legend and personal friend, Lloyd Mutasa, in August.

Pasuwa has won five matches in the league to bring Dynamos back into title contention. Despite last week’s heartbreak in Masvingo which assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya played down as just a minor blip, he is still highly regarded among the supporters.

But Pasuwa should remember that Dynamos supporters are an unpredictable bunch who can turn against him at the slightest of mistakes.

While the Masvingo defeat generated a few groans amongst the fans, another loss, especially to a team called Highlanders, will not be taken lightly.

The fact that Dynamos might kick off their match seven points behind FC Platinum — in the event that the moneybags win their match against Gunners at Lafarge today — makes it even worse.

But even if the Zvishavane- based team loses to Moses Chunga’s charges, Dynamos are four points behind the log leaders so either way Pasuwa will be required to win the match.

To put it bluntly, this is one match which can define his coaching career at Dynamos.

As for Masuku, his cause seems to be more desperate compared to his opposite number. Do-or-die is the best way to describe his situation going into the match.

After an impressive run of 11 unbeaten matches when he took over from Mohammed Fathi at the end of last season, Masuku was hailed as a master tactician. He was seen as the right man capable of transforming the club and bringing back those glory days to Emagumeni.

However, the dreadlocked gaffer has dismally failed to reproduce the imperious form of last season.

His team has been huffing and puffing this season, picking up 39 points after 25 games. Bosso is currently in fifth position and a massive 10 behind log leaders and for the sixth year running, they have already admitted they won’t be able to catch up.

Their recent form is a huge cause of concern. They have picked up just five points from their last five matches and their 1-1 draw against Shooting Stars provoked a predictable reaction from the clubs’ fans who vandalised the team bus and the manager’s car.

However, while Masuku will be the obvious scapegoat if his team loses on Sunday, problems haunting Bosso seems to go beyond the technical bench.

Reports say a major power struggle is brewing in the club’s executive and two camps have emerged, with one supporting Masuku while the other one is rooting for assistant Mark Mathe to take over.

Mathe was in the stands during the 1-1 draw against Shooting Stars last week — a situation which club chairman Themba Ndlela suspiciously described as normal.

There is also a big problem at Highlanders in terms of their player base. Since the days of Tapuwa Kapini, Vusa Nyoni, Ralph Matema, Richard Choruma, Johannes Ngodzo and Honour Gombami, just to name a few, the club has not managed to assemble a squad that can match the invincible class of 2006.

And after a shoddy performance against Shooting Stars last week another loss would spell disaster.