DYNAMOS have surrendered their pursuit for the championship this season and will be happy if they can finish in the top four, a member of the team’s technical team has said.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Harare giants, the most successful football club in the country, have had a bad start to the season and after 19 games, they are 10th on the log standings.
They have accumulated just 22 points and are a massive 23 behind log leaders and defending champions FC Platinum.
It has been a terrible campaign for the club, who have been defeated seven times this term, one more than they lost their entire season last year when they went on to finish second, beaten to the crown by just two points.
They were widely expected to improve from that showing, with many tipping them to win the league this season.
But things have gone horribly wrong this far. It appears the team has not recovered from a chaotic pre-season that was caused by a player mutiny, in protest over unpaid signing on fees and winning bonuses.
Team manager Richard Chihoro yesterday told NewsDaySport that dreaming about winning the championship this season would be a wild fallacy.
Their best bet, according to Chihoro, will be to finish in a “respectable fourth position.”
“Let’s be realistic, we cant talk of winning the championship. The season hasn’t gone well like we had planned. The gap that has formed between us and the top team is too big,” Chihoro said.
“We cannot fool ourselves to say we still have a chance (to win the league). This season, we cant, we will try next season. The target now is to finish in a respectable position, and if we can finish fourth, we would have achieved considering where we are currently.”
It has been chaotic in the Dynamos dressing room, with members of the technical team, including Chihoro and coach Lloyd Mutasa, being shown the exit door on different occasions, before they were both recalled.
A number of senior players have also left, leaving huge voids behind that the club have failed to fill.
Star striker Christian Ntouba, the man who single handedly carried the team last season, was frustrated out after the team failed to pay his signing-on fee and allowances.
Midfielder Tichaona Chipunza felt his services could be appreciated better elsewhere and he joined Ngezi Platinum at the start of the season, while Raphael Manuvire only spent six month at the club and he was fed up.
Skipper Ocean Mushure (pictured), who led the pre-season strike, has been in and out of the team this season due to problems related to his unpaid allowances and signing-on fees.
And all the difficulties culminated in club president Keni Mubaiwa throwing in the towel last month as problems mounted and the season wheel into an irretrievable nosedive.
But Chihoro believes the club have turned the corner.
The arrival of a new executive, led by long-serving benefactor Solomon Sanyamandwe, appears to have settled things a bit.
Their performance on the field of play has also improved, in particular their showing against Chicken Inn in their first game from the mid-season break a fortnight ago.
They were unfortunate to share the spoils in that match after allowing a late equaliser and they also showed some grit to come from behind and forced a draw in Maglas last week.
Tomorrow, they have a big test when second placed Ngezi Platinum Stars arrive at Rufaro Stadium for the headline match of the day.
“There will be war,” declared Chihoro. “We know Ngezi are a very good side and all the games we have played them have been very entertaining. This should not be any different, and we expect fans to come in their numbers.”
A $5 entry fee for the cheapest ticket, pegged for this match, could prove a huge hindrance for the two teams’ supporters, who could have wanted to watch this one.
The teams have met five times since Ngezi Platinum made their grand entry into the top flight three seasons ago, including a five goal thriller at the National Sports Stadium last season when a Ntouba inspired Dynamos won 3-2.
Interestingly, Dynamos have not lost to Ngezi at home, winning both games in the two team’s only meetings in Harare.
Ngezi have also utilised their home ground well when playing against Dynamos, winning twice and drawn one against their more fancied opponents in Mhondoro Ngezi.
Mutasa expects his team’s good home run against Ngezi Platinum Stars to continue tomorrow.
Mushure is unlikely to feature tomorrow, having only returned to the fold this week while Ngezi will begin life without their star man, Terrence Dzvukamanja, who has joined South African premier league side Bidvest Wits
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match-day 20 fixtures
Today: Harare City v Chapungu (Rufaro, 3pm, ZTV), Bulawayo Chiefs v Bulawayo City (Luveve), FC Platinum v CAPS United (Mandava), Black Rhinos v Yadah (National Sports Stadium), Nichrut v Shabanie (Ascot).
Tomorrow: Dynamos v Ngezi Platinum (Rufaro, 3pm, ZTV), Herentals v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Triangle v Highlanders (Gibbo), Mutare City Rovers v Chicken Inn (Vengere).