THE 71st edition of the Harare derby between two of Zimbabwean football’s fiercest rivals — Dynamos and Caps United — produced one splendid goal, a deluge of tears and a touch of controversy.
It might not have scaled the same heights as those of yesteryear, but it produced some sparks of life as Oscar Machapa — now on the books of Dynamos after returning from a spell with Moroka Swallows in South Africa in July — decided the contest with a goal of supreme quality in the first half — a product of a stunning piece of athleticism.
The big defender received a pass on the touchline, and beat his man before cutting inside to curl the ball into the far left corner of the post with both flair and finesse.
The only blemish to an otherwise entertaining afternoon were ugly scenes of violence witnessed towards the end as missiles rained from the bay housing Caps United fans who protested the decision by referee Thomas Masaa to award Clive Kawinga a free kick.
They also protested the time-wasting antics by goalkeeper George Chigova as the champions sought to protect their lead.
That victory brought Caps United’s 10-match unbeaten run to an abrupt end and ensured that the green side of Harare has not tasted derby victory against their bitter rivals since 2009.
The derby win also saw the defending champions opening their lead at the top of the league table with 41 points, two ahead of Harare City, who conceded a late goal as they drew 2-2 against Triangle at Gibbo, while Caps United dropped to fifth position as they remained on 35 points with only nine matches before the end of the campaign.
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The victory was special especially for Machapa as he extended his unbeaten record in the Harare derby.
The big defender had said before the match he had not lost a Harare derby since he started off his career at Caps United before moving to South Africa three years ago and that scoring in the derby was a great feeling for him.
But as the referee blew to end the match, Dynamos players joined their fans in wild celebrations while Caps United players looked downcast as they walked briskly across the field before disappearing into the dressing room.
United skipper Tapiwa Khumbuyani was not in the mood to speak to reporters and his number two Tawanda Munyanduri had to come in his place.
The Caps defender waved a defiant fist insisting the defeat to Dynamos had actually given them the resolve to go full throttle and tackle their remaining nine games with renewed hunger.
He said they had not lost hope and were still looking to win their first championship since clinching back-to-back league titles in 2004 and 2005.
“It’s disappointing to lose to Dynamos again, but the spirit was there. We wanted to win, but they took their chance. It happens and we will not despair. We need to lift ourselves up. There are still nine games remaining and we will keep on fighting for the championship,” Munyanduri said.
However, Dynamos skipper Tawanda Muparati said the victory had boosted their confidence in their bid to defend the league title which would see them going into the history books as the treble winners since 2000.
“It was a tough match. We fought hard to win this one. They (Caps United) gave us a tough time especially in the second half, but we made use of our chance. This victory has boosted our confidence as we seek to defend our league title. We now need to stay focused,” Muparati said.
Dynamos will make the trip to Hwange for their next assignment next month while Caps United are at home against a tricky Triangle.
Harare City will host Luke Masomere’s Shabanie Mine, while third-placed Highlanders host red-hot FC Platinum, who are fourth.