WITH four defeats in the past 11 matches of the 2014 campaign, some wise men have labelled the performance by Premier Soccer League champions Dynamos as “the end of an era”.
It’s a disaster that has struck the champions who have lifted the ultimate prize of domestic football for the past three years.
Dynamos have lost to ZPC Kariba, Buffaloes and Chapungu with Hwange recently inflicting an open-handed slap in their face which was as loud and painful as unexpected.
They are lying in fifth place on the league table and as they face high-flying old enemy Highlanders, who sit pretty in second place, at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, they have a huge challenge to prove that they are still a force and that those defeats were grotesque accidents, not the end of a glorious age.
Goalkeepers’ coach Tichaona Diya acknowledges they have displayed lacklustre performances not consistent with the defending champions, but refuses to blame his troops for those four defeats which threaten to plunge them into an irretrievable nosedive. He said it’s time to keep the faith and remind themselves of their past dreams.
“We are at home and have to collect maximum points,” said Diya after the team’s morning training session at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
“The loss to Hwange is painful, but it’s now water under the bridge. We have to bounce back to winning ways. It will not be easy against Highlanders. They are unbeaten, but we are not worrying ourselves much about those statistics.
“This game against Highlanders is self-motivating. The boys just don’t want to lose against Highlanders. We need to believe. It’s time to keep the faith,” said Diya.
Dynamos coach Kalisto Pasuwa is still fretting over the fitness of midfielders Devon Chafa and Soccer Star of the Year Tawanda Muparati. The duo has resumed training and will have to pass a late fitness test.
Highlanders skipper Innocent Mapuranga was, however, oozing confidence ahead of the big clash urging his troops to forget the nightmare of having failed to beat Dynamos in the last eight years and evoke the dream.
Bosso last beat Dynamos way back in 2006, the same year they won the league championship.
Attempts to defeat their rivals in subsequent years have ended in a deluge of tears, although under Kelvin Kaindu they have managed three draws and one loss.
Mapuranga says they do not want to continue living in the past.
“There is a lot at stake and it will be a very interesting match. Of course, we have not beaten Dynamos for a long time now, but we can’t continue to live in the past. This is a completely new game and we are going there with a positive attitude.
“Football is always a game of pressure and it’s natural that you have pressure in games like these, but what is important for us is to approach it like any other game. We are not reading much into the fact that we are still unbeaten. All we need are maximum points,” said Mapuranga.
Highlanders are also coming from two straight drawn games against FC Platinum and Triangle, but are still to taste defeat since the start of the campaign.
They have in all drawn six times — two short of those recorded in the 2012 season when they finished the campaign as runners-up to Dynamos.
The Bulawayo giants had their confidence also boosted by the quick recovery of the injured pair of Kuda Mahachi and Rahman Kutsanzira who are expected to make the trip to Harare.