FC Platinum and Dynamos take their new rivalry to Barbourfields Stadium (BF) in Bulawayo this weekend when they clash in the semi-finals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup.
The two are locked in the battle for the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title with the league debutants leading the standings with 52 points from 27 matches.
Platinum beat Shabanie Mine 1-0 in the Zvishavane Derby on Sunday to move three points clear of Dynamos, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Hwange at the Colliery and moved to 49 points.
The two teams will clash at Mandava Stadium next week in a game that should effectively decide who gets the ticket to the CAF Champions League next season.
In the reverse fixture, Dynamos, then under Lloyd Mutasa beat Platinum, then under the late Benjamin Moyo, 2-0 at Rufaro, but since then things have changed considerably at both sides.
Dynamos are under their second coach after Callisto Pasuwa replaced Mutasa while a rollercoaster has taken place at Platinum who are determined to make their mark in their debut season.
Moyo was replaced by his assistant Philani Mabhena, who lasted three games before Patrick Mandizha took over for one match. Rahman Gumbo signed a long-term deal on June 1.
Gumbo missed the 1-0 win over Shabanie on Sunday due to bereavement in the family, but will return to the dugout this Sunday. His last visit there was not a good one as they lost 1-0 to Highlanders in a league match.
In any case, the Highlanders fans don’t particularly like Platinum after they snared Zephaniah and Joel Ngodzo and Mernard Mupera in the off-season, leaving the Bulawayo giants crippled.
That aside, they are still likely to attract a reasonable crowd for the match.
Dynamos command a huge following in the City of Kings and will feel more at home — the Mpilo end — than Platinum, although worries remain over their failure to score away from home having also drawn against Highlanders at BF on Easter Monday.
This being a cup match, there has to be a winner and any stalemate will lead to the penalty lottery.
Any team which wins this one will carry a psychological advantage going into the league match and there is no doubt a few players from both sides have something to prove.
From the Dynamos stable Rodreck Mutuma — their ginger-haired goal provider, Cuthbert Malajila, Washington Arubi and veteran Murape Murape will have something to say to the moneybags by putting up polished performances and breaking that away jinx.
At Platinum, there is Benjamin Marere — who left the former champions under a cloud — outgoing Footballer of the Year Charles Sibanda, veteran Bheki Ncube and the young bustling Donald Ngoma.
Ngoma has been in the thick of things for the better part of the season, getting involved in every goal situation and creating the penalty that saw them take all the points against Shabanie Mine.
In the other semi-final, Zimbabwe Saints make the long trip to Mutare to face Motor Action as they seek a super end to a rather disastrous return to the top flight. They face the chop as they anchor the standings with 23 points from 27 matches.
There is a ticket to the Caf Confederations Cup from this match and while the Mighty Bulls go into the game as favourites, Saints can spring a surprise after they knocked Highlanders out of the competition.
On the other hand, the Bulls are chasing an unlikely treble after winning the BancABC Super Eight and are still in the running for the league title.