AS Norman Mapeza leads his FC Platinum troops into battle against defending champions Dynamos in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Mandava Stadium tomorrow, history is weighing heavily against him.
Mapeza started off his coaching career as assistant coach at Caps United before accepting the responsibility to take charge of Monomotapa as head coach in July 2007.
He stunned spectators and followers of the local game when he beat Dynamos to the finishing line the following year in a very close championship race.
He finished that campaign with an incredible 60 points — two ahead of runners-up Dynamos.
It felt so proud to see Mapeza and his men with their necks bedecked in medals after leading modest Monomotapa to their maiden league title.
Mapeza had surpassed expectations given that he had taken over a team which was battling the dark forces of relegation the previous year.
He was not given the Coach of the Year award with then Njube Sundowns coach Philani Ncube scooping it after leading his side to a third place finish.
But while he won a lot of admirers with the way he remoulded Monomotapa into an all-conquering squad in 2008, Mapeza still has sad memories of his encounters with Dynamos in the league.
He met Dynamos three times in the league and managed to win one match, with the Harare giants winning twice.
After taking over the reins at Monomotapa in July 2007, he suffered a 1-0 defeat in August.
But the following year, he gained some measure of revenge, defeating the Harare giants 1-0 in June that year, with Tendai Samanja scoring the priceless goal nine minutes from full time.
But Dynamos, determined to lift the championship, mauled Mapeza’s men 3-0 in the reverse fixture with Wonder Sithole thrusting them ahead in the first half, before Norman Maroto sealed victory with a memorable brace.
While that could not stop Monomotapa from being crowned champions, those statistics should be ringing in Mapeza’s ears as he faces his biggest test in his new coaching career, having already lost 1-0 to Highlanders at home.
That FC Platinum have won just two matches against Dynamos since gaining promotion into the elite league in 2011 only helps to strengthen the suggestion that the visitors have better chances of coming out of Mandava with their heads high.
Dynamos were thumped 2-0 in the league last season at Mandava and also lost in the Independence Trophy final on April 18 this year at the National Sports Stadium. In the league this season, Dynamos won 1-0 thanks to a questionable penalty.
Dynamos have 42 points, three more than second-placed Highlanders with just eight matches still to play before the season ends while FC Platinum are placed on sixth position with 31 points.
FC Platinum could also be without inform Zambian forward Obrey Chirwa who has scored three goals and has four assists in the last two matches he has played.
Meanwhile, Dynamos central defender Themba Ndlovu is suspended for the match after accumulating three yellow cards.
Suspended players for this weekend
Dumisani Ndlovu (Highlanders)
Andrew Chuma (Hwange)
Simon Munawa (Highlanders)
Themba Ndlovu (Dynamos)
Obediah Tarumbwa (Bantu Rovers)
Moses Majika (Bantu Rovers)
Steven Matsangaise (Black Rhinos)
Benson Maglasi (Harare City)
Mike Nyamukasa (Buffaloes)
Tomorrow: Chicken Inn v Bantu Rovers (Hartsfield Stadium), FC Platinum v Dynamos (Mandava Stadium),Harare City v Highlanders (Rufaro Stadium), Chiredzi v Shabanie Mine(Chishamiso Stadium)
Sunday: Caps United v How Mine v (Rufaro Stadium), Buffaloes v Triangle United v Sakubva Stadium, Hwange v Chapungu (Colliery Stadium), ZPC Kariba v Black Rhinos (Gwanzura)