ARGUABLY the most entertaining and eagerly awaited derby in the country, the battle between the Blue Army of Dynamos and Green Machine of Caps United returns to the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
The match will be watched by South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns who arrived in the country yesterday.
There might be three points for winning any football match, but for those who follow these two teams, there is an added importance of winning this derby.
The stakes are just enormous.
Talking about winning this big match, it is not something Caps United has done well enough in the last few seasons.
One will have to go back five years ago to find the day, on that beautiful Easter Monday of April 13, when Dynamos defender Sam Mutenheri became a shocked spectator and a helpless victim of Oscar Machapa’s unique magic, roasting the leftback twice and providing the two crosses that were both converted by Nyasha Mushekwi as Caps United cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win.
But the tables have turned in Dynamos’ favour, whose record against their number one rival has been terrific since then.
In the nine league meetings since that Mutenheri horror show, Dynamos have recorded seven wins and the other two games have ended in draws.
In the period under review, Dynamos have scored 12 goals, against Caps United’s three goals — an incredible record.
The Kalisto Pasuwa-coached Dynamos have won three titles in those years, while Caps United have been horrible, reduced to jealous neighbours.
But as they normally say, statistics and form do not count in these kinds of matches.
The team that will pitch up on the day will win the match. Regrettably for the neutral followers of local football, it has been Dynamos throughout in the last five years.
Caps United captain Tapiwa Khumbuyani, who knows not how it feels to beat Dynamos in a league match, was bullish this week and told NewsDay Sport that their wretched record against their nemesis would be modified tomorrow.
His source of encouragement is their 1-0 win over Dynamos in the ZNA Charity Shield early this year.
He is also taking comfort in the team’s recent fine form where they have managed to string four wins, a run which has seen them right back in the title race, at position three on the log table.
Yet, it appears Dynamos have developed a knack for beating Caps United. As statistics above show, they just know how to do it.
The club’s vice-captain Patson Jaure on Thursday said they were prepared even to play dirty if that was what they had to do to win this famous derby.
His assertion gives a clear picture of how it means to his club winning this match. For them, their lives and their season depends on this fixture.
On top of the points on offer [especially this time around when the two teams are tied on 26 points], there are also bragging rights.
But with the two teams facing each other again in the reverse fixture a week from tomorrow, the stakes even get bigger and Jaure predicted that if his team won these two matches, they would be in a very good position to defend their title for a fourth straight season.
Both teams would be without their coaches who are finishing the first part of the Caf A licence coaching courses on the day of the match.
In the absence of Taurai Mangwiro for Caps United, assistant coach Mike Madzivanyika engineered a 2-1 win over Chicken Inn, while Philemon Mutyakureva, Pasuwa’s second in command, oversaw a 2-1 win for Dynamos over Black Rhinos.
Caps United are welcoming back into the squad midfielder Gerald Phiri from an injury sustained while on trials in South Africa, but it is the senior players like Tapiwa Khumbuyani and Hardlife Zvirekwi who are expected to carry their team.
For Dynamos, Simba Sithole and Clive Kawinga return from injuries, but for Pasuwa, it is the veterans like Murape Murape who the team usually depend on in such big ties, and it appears the 34-year-old has hit top form at the right time.
Then there is the Rodreck Mutuma factor. He marked his return to local football after a failed stint in South Africa with a goal for Dynamos against Black Rhinos and he needs no introduction to the opposition, with a record three goals in two derby matches.
He will certainly want to use the big stage to show that he is not a flop despite failing to make a mark at South African clubs Bloemfontein Celtic and Moroka Swallows.
With Caps United having gone back on their decision to increase gate charges to $5 from the usual $3, a good number of supporters are expected to witness this latest Harare derby.