By Kevin Mapasure
Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya returns to Baobab Stadium this afternoon, one year since he was inexplicably dismissed by Ngezi Platinum Stars, where he had a two-and-half-year spell.
Ndiraya had assembled one of the strongest forces at Ngezi, but with the league title having eluded him, the club’s hierarchy axed him in October last year when his team was only five points behind eventual winners FC Platinum with as much matches left for the season.
For the first time, he will be in the away dug out as he attempts to achieve what only one visiting team has managed, by winning at the Baobab.
Only Triangle have managed to beat Ngezi at home so far this season.
Even during Ndiraya’s time, coming out of the Baobab with a single point was such a daunting task, let alone winning all three points for visiting teams.
A few things have changed since he left, with a number of players joining Ngezi, while others have left, but Ndiraya will be looking to use his vast knowledge of the place and the players to land one punch at his former employers.
Before he was sent packing, he had presided over one defeat at home when they lost to FC Platinum.
This week, Ndiraya acknowledged that his team would face a tough task against Ngezi, but remains confident that they can still come away with all the points.
“We still believe that if we get maximum points in our next match, it will improve our position this season. We will go there and put up a good fight and hope to get something out of the match. I know Ngezi Platinum very well, I have been there. It is not an easy thing to go there and come out with maximum points. We have to try the best we can and do the best we can to get positive results, but it’s not going to be an easy match, of course,” he said.
Since Ndiraya left, Ngezi Platinum Stars have regressed and plunged into mid-table mediocrity, sitting just one point behind Dynamos, who are seventh on the league table.
Both teams are not where they would have wanted to be at this stage and Ndiraya will be looking to hand Ngezi their ninth defeat of the season.
DeMbare have been struggling as they are on a five-match draw streak, which they want to end this afternoon.
Their prospects have been boosted by the return of the trio that carries the creative spark in Simba Nhivi, Archford Gutu and Evans Katema.
Katema and Nhivi are both former Ngezi players and the latter left in acrimonious circumstances earlier this year.
Ngezi have already sacked another coach, Erol Akbay, whom they replaced with Rodwell Dhlakama.
Across town, second-placed Chicken Inn have a tough away trip to Harare, where they face fifth-placed Black Rhinos this afternoon, in a match the Joey Antipas-coached side cannot afford to lose if they are to boost their title hopes, with Caps United having opened a five-point gap at the top.
FC Platinum face a resurgent Yadah side at Mandava Stadium, while Highlanders take on TelOne, who have also improved under Rahman Gumbo.
Today: FC Platinum v Yadah (Mandava), Manica Diamonds v Kariba (Vengere), Ngezi Platinum Stars v
Dynamos (Baobab), Highlanders v TelOne (Barbourfields), Harare City v Mushowani (Rufaro), Black Rhinos v Chicken Inn (NSS).
Tomorrow: Caps United v Hwange (NSS), Bulawayo Chiefs v Triangle, Chapungu v Herentals (Ascot)