SEPARATED by two points, How Mine and Dynamos lock horns in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer league tomorrow at Barbourfields Stadium, in a match that is expected to produce fireworks.
BY FORTUNE MBELE/HENRY MHARA
Dynamos are on the third spot on the log table with 17 points while How Mine are on fourth with 15 with nine matches played in the first half of the season.
Both sides have had bags of mixed fortunes going into Match Day Nine and each collected maximum points in their last outings with the defending champions DeMbare beating FC Platinum 1-0 at home while the gold miners also got over new boys Tsholotsho by the same margin at Luveve.
The league champions last weekend beat FC Platinum, a win that halted a three game winless run with Oscar Machapa’s solitary goal deep in injury time deciding the contest.
Tomorrow, they are in Bulawayo against an expensively assembled but inconsistent How Mine, hard-pressed to prove that that last week’s 1-0 victory over Tsholotsho was no fluke.
However, the David Mandigora coached side has problems in camp to deal with.
The technical bench spent most part of this week fighting sabotage allegations that are being levelled against assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya by a section of supporters who believe he is behind the team’s recent slump in form.
But while they appear to have successfully doused the flames, they have another major problem to deal with this weekend.
At least six of the teams’ regular players will not make the journey to different reasons.
Simba Nhivi and Obey Mwerahari got injured last week and will be out for some few weeks while Qadr Amini, Nigel Gandari and Erick Opoku are on the treatment table.
Ronald Chitiyo and Carlos Rusere are away in South Africa on national duty.
“The absentees would be a huge blow to the team because most of these guys were in the team last week so obviously it will disturb our plans. But we have a huge squad, quite formidable players within the ranks who can carry on with the job so we should be fine,” said Ndiraya
He added: “The FC Platinum game sort of took pressure off the boys, and not only the players but the rest of the team and that victory should spur us to keep on winning. It should inspire the boys to want to keep on collecting maximum points and I hope they will play to the best of their abilities in Bulawayo.
“The game will be tight because How Mine is a good side, they have quality players so we are expecting a difficult game but we are going there with a positive mind.”
How Mine has, on paper, probably the best squad in the league after making a number of big name signings in the last transfer window.
Those signings include two former Dynamos players in 2013 Soccer Star of the Year Tawanda Muparati and Devon Chafa who joined the mine side at the start of the year.
The two however, have been struggling with injuries and their condition embodies How Mine’s performances this far.
The club has been inconsistent, and is yet to string two wins in their nine matches this season.
Chafa is back though and is expected to face his old club for the first time since his move while Muparati is still sidelined.
Another injury boost for How Mine is that of Godfrey Nguwodzawo who has been confirmed fit after a very long time on the sidelines.
While statics show that How Mine has not performed to expectations, coach Luke Masomere, who said Muparati is still down, thinks his side have done “brilliantly.”
He expects a tough match against Dynamos.
“I think we have done brilliantly so far. People might ask why I am saying that. It’s because I’m still trying combinations while the season is on. We never had a good pre-season because we had injuries and other players came in late. We were struggling but we still managed to pick some points and with most of the guys having recovered, we can only get better,” said Masomere.
“We are playing the best club in terms of everything so we will start the game as underdogs but that does not mean they will beat us. We have prepared well and I’m confident that we will get a good result,” added Masomere.
The self proclaimed doctor of Zimbabwe football added: “They are not consistent and we have not been consistent. It is a going to be a mouthwatering encounter and we are looking forward to a good result.”
With goalkeeper Donovan Bernard on national duty with the Warriors, former Highlanders and Dynamos shot stopper Munyaradzi Diya is likely to play his second game for the gold miners after he was fielded against Tsholotsho.
Timothy January, scorer of goals in the 6-0 rout of Whahwa two weeks back, Limited Chikafa, Kuda Musharu, Charles Sibanda and Wonder Sithole are also men to watch out for tomorrow.