By Augustine Hwata
CHAMPIONS Dynamos will begin their quest for a 19th Premiership crown tomorrow at the same Rufaro theatre where they capped their greatest comeback show, four months ago, by capturing their last title.
The Glamour Boys will host newboys Hardbody at Rufaro and, as defending champions, they will take pride of place as the Castle Lager Premiership race begins this weekend.
The championship gets underway today when FC Platinum, who came so close, yet so far, from winning the title in their maiden dance in the Premiership, visit the capital today for a date against Black Mambas at Morris Depot.
The last time the platinum miners were in the capital for a league match, in November last year, they beat Shooting Stars 3-1 at Gwanzura but that was not enough to win them the league title after losing a close race on goal difference.
Motor Action, who finished third last year after fading badly towards the end, have a home date against newboys Harare City, Hwange date Quelaton at the Colliery and Adam Ndlovu’s Chicken Inn take on Gunners at Luveve.
Tomorrow, CAPS United face a tough away assignment against Shabanie at Maglas, Highlanders host Blue Rangers at Barbourfields and Buffaloes are at home to Monomotapa. Last year Dynamos stumbled in their first league assignment when they crashed to a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Kiglon.
The Glamour Boys, who a week earlier had impressed in a 4-1 thrashing of MC Alger in a Champions League tie at Rufaro, never recovered and they nose-dived to a 0-3 defeat, in controversial circumstances, in Algeria to crash out of the Caf’s premier inter-club competition.
Hardbody came into the Premiership the hard way, needing a number of boardroom decisions to go their way in a battle against Tripple B, and tomorrow they begin life in the top-flight. Dynamos coach, Callisto Pasuwa, yesterday said they will not underrate the newboys.
“We are coming from a 2-2 draw in the Champions League in an away game in Mozambique and Hardbody are coming from Division One,” said Pasuwa. “People might underrate them but should be aware that last year we lost to Kiglon, who were considered a small team in the opening game.
“So Hardbody could do the same and I want to say there are no small teams anymore. We should be ready for everything on the field of play on Sunday.” On paper, Dynamos have had far better pre-season preparations compared to their opponents tomorrow as they have played in the NetOne Charity Shield and the Bob ’88 Super Cup.
The Harare giants have also played against Liga Muculumana in the Champions League. Pasuwa challenged his players to carry a positive attitude into the domestic game. “We played several teams from Division One during pre-season and I must say that we struggled against some them to get a result,” said Pasuwa.
“Hardbody are coming from Division and have nothing to lose in this match. We should have a positive attitude and should never underrate them at all.” Hardbody assistant coach Brighton Muchambo this week revealed that they will play a passing game and are motivated at meeting the giants of domestic football.
Pasuwa will be happy that giant striker Takesure Chinyama is now available for selection after sitting out at training earlier in the week due to injury. The explosive Chinyama scored a brace in Mozambique and has assumed the role of chief striker at the team since Cuthbert Malajila left to join South African side Maritzburg United.
“Takesure sat out the training on Tuesday and then went to the see the doctors who have certified him fit to train. So he had been training for the past two days and is available for selection,” said Pasuwa. Against Liga Muculmana, Dynamos were ultra-defensive but Pasuwa is hoping to change the approach when they host Hardbody.
“We were more defensive but this time we are playing against a local team and we could be changing the approach. I know that we should play according to our strengths,” said Pasuwa. He appealed to their fans to give the players time to settle in the match.
“I know that most of the fans want a positive result. We might take time to find the goal but eventually it will come and as we search for the goal, fans should be supportive. I have players like Tineyi (Chitora) who are good but will find the atmosphere of playing for a Dynamos crowd different. So we have been encouraging them to handle the pressure if it comes,” said Pasuwa.
The rearguard, which was the rock on which Dynamos built their success last year, hasn’t changed and Pasuwa is happy that vice-captain, goalkeeper, Washington Arubi, is back in the fold. The Soccer Star of the Year was considering making a move to a foreign club during the off-season.
Skipper George Magariro’s performance, so far, has been a bit shaky, but the return of the hardworking Guthrie Zhokinyi to partner him in central defence should come as a huge boost. Zhokinyi missed the Champions League first round, first leg tie in Maputo after Caf revealed that he was sitting on a four-match suspension but the defender is available for the Castle Lager Premiership.
A leading human rights lawyer, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, who was the founding Shooting Stars’ secretary-general, said he was looking at the possible options of a legal challenge of the four-match ban imposed on Zhokinyi for a red card.
Patson Jaure, who partnered Magariro, in Maputo could provide cover from the bench. The Zambia duo of Dereck Kabwe and Arthur Kaseloki are out of the tie and will watch from the terraces. “Papers for the Zambia players are not ready so they are not eligible for now,” said Pasuwa.
Hardbody, from Gweru, maybe greenhorns in the elite league but their coach Tavaka Gumbo is experienced enough after previsiouly taking charge of Masvingo United, Hwange and Shabanie Mine. The dreadlocked coach has a number of unheralded players but is not short of experience in Malvern Nyakabangwe, Alick and Tapiwa Marime and former Shabanie player Johane Mangiza and Andrew Chuma.
This is all about Dynamos. If they lose, it will be a big shock in the soccer circles tomorrow. If they win, it won’t be a big issue because they are expected to do exactly that.
Today: Black Mambas v FC Platinum (Morris Depot), Motor Actor Action v Harare City (Motor Action Sports Club), Chicken Inn v Gunners (Luveve), Hwange v Quelaton (Colliery)
Tomorrow: Dynamos v Hardbody (Rufaro), Highlanders v Blue Rangers (BF), Shabanie Mine v CAPS United (Maglas), Buffaloes v Monomatapa (Sakubva)
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