SIX YEARS of trying have yielded no Harare derby joy for Caps United against their bitter rivals Dynamos in Premier Soccer League encounters.
BY SPORTS REPORTERS
But the man who delivered the Green Machine’s last victory in this fixture, Lloyd Chitembwe, is back in charge and suddenly the camp is buoyant, as expectations of breaking the jinx reach an all-time high.
Despite little significance in influencing the direction of the league championship, the eagerly-awaited Harare derby between the two teams at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow is arguably the pick of the weekend fixtures.
Chitembwe, a former Caps United midfielder, who fought many battles against Dynamos in his playing career, is the last Makepekepe coach to beat Dynamos in a league match, way back in April 2009 with Nyasha Mushekwi netting a famous double.
Since then, Caps United have remained stuck in the shadows of their bitter rivals.
However, two months after returning as Caps United, Chitembwe is confident that he will get it right again, although he said history will have little influence in the match.
“That only helps to give us confidence, but history should be left for the archives,” he said.
“We will try to go out there and do well. I believe we have quality in our squad. We have good players that can see us break the Dynamos jinx.
“The players have been fantastic in training. They are pumped up. We are spoilt for choice. All of the 25 players we have are eager to play on Sunday (tomorrow). I can’t really wait to see the players perform at a big stage on Sunday.
“This is a very important fixture in many ways. It draws interest from the generality of the population. It’s also important in terms of revenue generation.”
His counterpart, Tonderai Ndiraya, who will be leading Dynamos in his first Harare derby since taking over as head coach, also acknowledged the huge significance of tomorrow’s fixture.
“It’s a derby, definitely one of the most important fixtures on our calender and there will be bragging rights to fight for, so we have been preparing as such,” he said.
“We have done our homework and hopefully on Sunday, we will be able to implement whatever we would have done in training.”
Ndiraya said his charges had managed to overcome the disappointment of failing to lift the Chibuku Super Cup after the 2-1 loss to Harare City in the final last week.
“Everyone was disappointed by that defeat. We all wanted to win that cup, but it was not to be. Such is football. We have since put that behind us. It was difficult for everyone, but life has to go on. We have since regrouped quickly and our preparations have gone well,” he said.
Dynamos will be without their regular centrebacks in Sydney Linyama (injured), and Elisha Muroiwa, who is suspended for the match.
The last time the two teams met in a league match, it ended in a 1-1 draw.
Dynamos, who are six points adrift of log leaders Chicken Inn, would be hoping for a positive result to enhance the slim chances of defending their title.
Meanwhile, Chicken Inn could make a huge stride towards their first-ever Premier Soccer League title if they can collect maximum points away at relegation-bound WhaWha this afternoon.
The match, scheduled for Ascot Stadium, has an early kickoff of 1pm to enable live broadcast of the game on SuperSport.
Today, the Joey Antipas-coached side, who are also still to face Tsholotsho, Harare City and Flame Lily on the last day of the season, will be fancying their chances against a side who are winless in their last six league outings.
The promoted side, second from the bottom, have won just once in their last 13 matches, and just four so far in the season.
However, Antipas is not taking WhaWha lightly, emphasising that it would be premature for his side to start talking about the championship now.
“It is a difficult fixture. We are playing away and WhaWha are a team that we do not need to underrate. They don’t have much to play for, but we need to stay focused. We are not looking at how our competitors play. We just have to worry about ourselves and as long as we keep on collecting maximum points, we will be okay. But it is game on. It is still premature to talk about the championship,” he said.
Save for midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu, injured on national duty in the first leg of the Chan qualifier against Lesotho at BF two weeks ago, Antipas said everyone was up for selection.
Veteran Clemence Matawu and captain Danny Phiri have been the team’s engine this season and they are expected to play a key role today and until the season ends, while strikers Edmore Chirambadare and Michelle Katsvairo are also players to look out for against the prison officers’ side.
As for WhaWha, their fate appears to have been sealed already, as they lie second from the bottom.
However, their coach Lloyd Mutasa says they are not throwing in the towel yet.
“Mathematically, we are still in with a chance and as professionals, we will play for a win. We hope for the best. Everybody is available for selection,” he said.
FC Platinum will be hoping that WhaWha throw the spanners in the Chicken Inn works, so they can close the gap at the top to one point.
The Zvishavane side had the best opportunity to do that when they met the log leaders last week, but could only get a point.
They now have to do it the hard way, against Harare City, who have said Norman Mapeza and his side should not expect any favours.
“We are not going to donate points. We are not playing for anyone other than Harare City. The points that we will gain or drop will not be for any other team, but for Harare City. So they should not expect any favours,” Harare City assistant coach, Mkhuphali Masuku said.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Fixtures
Today: WhaWha vs Chicken Inn (Ascot, SuperSport 9 1pm), FC Platinum vs Harare City (Mandava), ZPC Kariba vs Chapungu (Nyamhunga), How Mine vs Flame Lily (Luveve)
Tomorrow: Dynamos vs Caps United (Rufaro, SuperSport 3pm), Highlanders vs Buffaloes (Barbourfields), Hwange vs Tsholotsho (Colliery), Triangle vs Dongo Sawmill (Gibbo)