By Eddie Chikamhi
DYNAMOS goalkeeper Washington Arubi has challenged his teammates to play like champions when they meet Motor Action in the season-opening Net-One Charity Shield match at the National Sport Stadium tomorrow.
The teams clash for the second year running in the same competition and Arubi, who was the hero when Dynamos triumphed in a penalty shootout, yesterday said DeMbare should aim to finish the game inside regulation time.
Interestingly, Dynamos and Motor Action were the two teams in action in last season’s final when the Glamour Boys somehow withstood waves of bombardments, from an inspired Mighty Bulls, before a smash-and-grab exercise gave them the Mbada Diamonds Cup.
Tomorrow, the two Harare teams will open the new football season at the same ground where their rain-hit Mbada Diamonds Cup final was staged. But Dynamos, by their own admission, have been poor in the pre-season.
However, the Glamour Boys have always been a team that rises to the occasion and, with their fans in the stands, and silverware at stake and some cash benefits to go with that, they become a different animal.
Now wonder there are hopes in their camp for a turnaround tomorrow, in a game that marks the official start of the new season. “We need to put more than 100 percent effort because it’s not going to be an easy game,” said Arubi.
“Our wish is to finish it inside the 90 minutes of regulation time because going for a penalty shootout will not guarantee anyone success. It’s a gamble which can go either way and we should avoid that.”
The DeMbare goalkeeper turned out the hero in the last edition when he saved two kicks from the spot to hand Dynamos the silverware after the match had spilled to a shootout.
The teams were deadlocked at 2-2 after extra time with Motor Action coming from behind on both occasions through Masimba Mambare and Enasio Perezo who cancelled out Murape Murape and Timire Mamvura’s goals.
Ironically, both teams have been complaining of lack of firepower, of late.
Arubi, however, is convinced that results from their pre-season run may not be a true reflection of their quality.
Dynamos were held to a goalless draw by Monomotapa before falling to a 1-0 defeat at Gunners. “All the games we played in the pre-season were taken seriously,” he said. “The coaches used the matches to try out various combinations and that is the reason they changed the line-up time and again.
“I think they have now seen what they wanted to see and for now we are concentrating on the Charity Shield because it’s important to look at one game at a time,” said Arubi.
DeMbare have been rotating players in the pre-season, trying to find the right combinations and tomorrow the fans will be able to have a glimpse of what coach Callisto Pasuwa’s first team will look like. Pasuwa said he will field his best 11 from the 30-member squad he has short-listed for this season.
Midfielders Denver Mukamba, Devon Chafa and Tawanda Muparati, who did not take part in the Charity Shield match last year, are expected to be part of the action tomorrow. DeMbare are hoping Mukamba would have fully recovered from a nagging knee injury.
Their Zambian midfielder Arthur Kaseloki has also been nursing an injury while most of the players like Martin Vengesai, Derrick Kabwe and Roderick Mutuma are back to full fitness. But the club has not come out clean on Desmond Maringwa, who has been omitted, in their provisional squad.
Pasuwa said DeMbare, who begin their Champions League campaign next week, will be looking to boost their morale with a victory in the Charity Shield.
DeMbare’s strikers have struggled in the off-season and, as is usually the case at the Glamour Boys, it has torched conspiracy theories with some in their camp claiming that some officials, unhappy with the way the executive was reshuffled two months ago, have turned against the club.
The Mighty Bulls, who experienced a huge disappointment after crashing out of the Confederation Cup two weeks ago, will be out to redeem themselves ahead of the new season. They appear to have scores to settle with Dynamos and will be hoping to turn the tables on their opponents.
However, Motor Action coach Joey Antipas would prefer to let his boys do the talking on the pitch. Antipas refused to label this match a revenge mission but said they are hoping to put up a good fight and lift their spirits ahead of the new season by winning the silverware.
But the Mighty Bulls watched in horror when Dynamos fans, in the Vietnam Stand, gave a standing ovation to Black Leopards and former coach Sunday Chidzambwa after their Confederation Cup victory over Motor Action at Rufaro.
“I wouldn’t want to call it revenge because we are not fighting in a war. We are playing football and I believe the better team will win. “The desire to win will count at the end of the day,” said Antipas.
The Motor Action mentor, however, has been facing a dilemma with his squad as a number of his players had no contracts and therefore could not be able to obtain licences from the Premier Soccer League.
Motor Action were still talking to some of the players yesterday in the hope of reaching common ground before registering them with the Premier Soccer League. Slippery winger Mambare, who scored the equaliser that forced the penalty shootout in the last edition, painted a gloomy picture as he is one of the players in question.
“My contract expired on December 31 and we have been negotiating with Motor Action since then. But of late I think they have been occupied with the issues of the new signings.
“We are talking again and if we agree on anything you will see me on the pitch on Sunday but if nothing has materialised you will not see me,” said Mambare. Antipas said whichever team they will throw into battle tomorrow will be able to match Dynamos.
To help maintain editorial independence Nehanda Radio relies on donations from readers like you. No donation is too small or too big. Help by donating to fund our operations.