By Grace Chingoma
HARARE- It’s hard to believe Dynamos are chasing Mission Impossible on Sunday with their experienced players bullish about their chances of wiping out a six-goal deficit when they take on the best football team on the continent at Rufaro.
The majority of their fans have given up hope, still shocked by the 0-6 thrashing their team received in Tunis almost two weeks ago, and when coach Callisto Pasuwa suggested, shortly after the match, that they could overturn the shortfall, he was lampooned on the social media sites.
Pasuwa was accused by his own fans of living on Mars, when the game is being played on Earth, and the majority of the supporters demanded an apology than false assurances that Esperance could be massacred in Harare.
Seasoned observers forgave Pasuwa, saying his comments came in the heat of the moment, as he struggled to adjust to his team’s worst defeat in three decades of participation in the continent’s flagship inter-club tournament.
Surprisingly, while the dust has settled, the key Dynamos players are still singing from the same hymn book as their coach.
Yesterday, they began the final leg of their preparations for that showdown against the African champions at Rufaro but if you were looking for a battered battalion that will remain in its shell, preaching the gospel of damage limitations in the return leg, then you were at the wrong place. With the wrong people!
It’s a measure of the degree of their belief in their capacity to occasionally rise to the occasion, and the determination to exert revenge on a football franchise that spoiled their proud record, that the Glamour Boys till believe it could all be Mission Possible.
Veteran midfielder, Murape Murape, yesterday said that Esperance would pay for the pain they inflicted on his team and the way they soiled Dynamos’ reputation. Murape said their main goal was to win the game, to redeem their pride, but it wasn’t all lost for them that they still had a chance to wipe out the deficit.
The most senior player in the team’s dressing room, Murape believes that even if the team fail to progress to the group stages on Sunday, they have to put in a good performance synonymous with DeMbare and show the world that the Tunis nightmare was a fluke.
If DeMbare fail to overturn the deficit, they will be relegated into the Confederation Cup. Their fans are not used to seeing Dynamos play in the Europa League of Africa after being spoiled by a dosage of Champions League football, in which their team has always performed well.
For a team that was once ranked as high as number six on the continent, and which keeps getting a bye from the preliminary rounds, DeMbare have to justify their lofty status. “We should believe that we can do it and the rest will take care of itself,” said Murape.
“We need to have hope and faith. We have to make sure we beat them and get our pride back after they beat us 6-0. We have to make sure we work hard and play well on Sunday to convince people that, even if we fail, we can go further in the Confederation Cup should we be relegated there on Sunday.”
Dynamos skipper, George Magariro, said the players have recovered from the drubbing and have their confidence back following their back-to-back league victories. At Rufaro yesterday morning, all the players, except for injured midfielder Milton Makopa and striker Takesure Chinyama, took part in the training session.
Makopa, who was suspended from the first leg in Tunis, is also likely to miss the Sunday tie as he sat out the session with a recurring groin injury. Chinyama did not train due to family bereavement and only turned up when his teammates were about to finish the session.
Timire Mamvura, who was given marching orders in Tunisia, will also miss the Sunday clash. “We need to attack and you never know with the game of football,” said Magariro.
“We regrouped after the defeat and we now have our confidence back after winning in Mutare and on Sunday and our fans now have the confidence in us again and we are all motivated. All the players are looking forward to the game and we need the fans to come and support us.”
If there is one thing that is in Dynamos’ favour, then it is the fact that they will go into the game on Sunday without being burdened by pressure from their fans. The last time a group of Glamour Boys suffered such a big humiliation, when they fell 1-5 to Shooting Stars of Nigeria in the Champions League in 1996, they came back home and turned on the style and won 3-1.
Only the heroics of ’keeper Obiodun Baruwa prevented that Class of Glamour Boys from not only erasing the deficit but even inflicting a huge defeat capable of taking them into the next round. The crowd at the National Sports Stadium loved it and, after the match, they gave their boys a standing ovation.
DeMbare goalkeeper Washington Arubi, who should have kept out two of the goals at the Rades by his high standards, said there was no need not to dream big.
“We are in the right frame of mind and morale is high in camp. We just need to pull up our socks and anything can happen,” said Arubi.
“I am not even thinking about the Confederation Cup as yet and still believe we still have a part to play in the Champions League until after the Sunday result. I have to work on how to deal with crosses because the Tunisians are tall and very dangerous at set pieces and we will be working on crosses.
“Our defenders also have to devise methods of shutting their danger man (Youssef Msakni) out. We are also appealing to fans, who have also been our 12th man, to come and create an intimidating atmosphere and unsettle the Tunisians.”
The Warriors goalkeeper said that he has put behind him the Tunisia debacle and wants to keep a clean sheet on Sunday.
It seems Dynamos’ rearguard, which on Sunday had lapses of concentration and conceded two late goals from Hwange, will have to be at their best to shut out Msakni- who has been linked heavily to French Ligue 1 moneybags Paris Saint-Germain. Pasuwa has already told his charges that they have to be disciplined, and maintain concentration throughout the game.
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.