Can DeMbare pass the Colliery Furnace test?
By Eddie Chikamhi
Dynamos will have to conquer the heat, with the current conditions expected to turn Hwange into a furnace, and an inspired host, to keep alive their Castle Lager Premiership title dreams tomorrow.
The Glamour Boys face the Mother of All Tests, needing to beat the elements which will test their endurance to the limit, and a Hwange team that has been one of the best performing sides in the top-flight in recent weeks.
This should be the toughest of the four matches remaining in DeMbare’s fixture list, even tougher than their next trip to Mandava for a showdown against FC Platinum, and if they can pass this assignment, then they can fancy their chances of winning the championship.
With Zimbabwe under a heat wave all week, temperatures are likely to soar in Hwange tomorrow and that could make it unbearable for the Glamour Boys who badly need to win this match.
Hwange coach coach Tennant Chilumba said the in-form coal-miners were content with the underdogs tag when they host Dynamos but warned there could be surprises in store at the Colliery.
DeMbare, who currently sit second on the log standings with 48 points, one behind FC Platinum, are on the hunt for maximum points to keep the pressure on the leaders in the title race. But Hwange have enjoyed a good spell after raking up four wins in succession in the league to rise to fourth place on the table.
Hwange have 43 points and are still entertaining faint hopes of winning the championship. No wonder Chilumba is bullish. “We are all playing for something. We want the points as much as they do,” said Chilumba.
“We respect Dynamos because they are a big team and I don’t think playing them at home will be of any advantage to us since they have supporters all over the country. It will be like playing in a neutral venue but what I can say is that we are ready for them and we will be playing for nothing but three points.”
With no injury worries in their dressing room, Chilumba said he will look up to the senior players to play a big part against Dynamos tomorrow. Hwange have experienced a renaissance with inspiration coming from veterans like Gilbert Zulu, Marlven Longwe, David Boriwondo, Andrew Chuma and Timothy Sibanda who have been leading from the front.
They come into this match on the back of morale-boosting victories over Monomotapa, Shabanie Mine, Shooting Stars and Black Mambas in their recent matches. “I am happy with the current form. The senior players have been exemplary and I just hope they continue with their good job,” said Chilumba.
“Our team is a good mixture of youth and experience. Players like Timothy Sibanda, Gilbert Zulu, Ocean Mpofu and Andrew Chuma have made it easy for the younger players to fit in the system. Personally, I am impressed and I hope this group will remain intact for next season,” he said.
Petros Mhari has been getting preference in goals and acquitting himself well ahead of Sibanda but Chilumba might choose to go for experience tomorrow. Chipangano are likely to trust Zulu and Tongai Magwendere with the responsibility to get the goals upfront.
They emerged unscathed in the reverse fixture, which ended 0-0 at Rufaro, but a different script could be produced tomorrow as both sides are currently enjoying good form. Dynamos have been poor travellers this season.
However, last week’s 3-0 win over Shooting Stars in the Mbada Diamonds Cup at Maglas should have given them the impetus they needed as they hope for their first win outside Harare in six league attempts.
They have been to Barbourfields against Highlanders, White City, Maglas, Mucheke and to Luveve against Chicken Inn but in over 450 minutes of play they have not managed to score a goal.
Tomorrow DeMbare will be without their leading striker and Premiership top goal-scorer Roderick Mutuma who has been suspended after accumulating three yellow cards.
Former Masvingo United forward, Martin Vengesai, who has struck good form with three goals in his last five games, is likely to be the direct replacement and should twin with Cuthbert Malajila in attack.
The Glamour Boys go into the match in high spirits after receiving a US$14 000 package from LaChelle Travel and Tours this week to pay off the outstanding bonuses for the players and technical officials.
Team manager Richard Chihoro acknowledged Hwange were not easy opponents but said they are aiming for an outright win to keep their championship dream alive.
“Hwange are number four on the log standings and if you look closely they have been doing well in recent matches. But we are going there for maximum points. Morale is very high and we cannot afford to lose at this point,” said Chihoro.
The coaches are not likely to make significant changes to the team that beat Shooting Stars 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup last Sunday.
Besides Mutuma, coach Callisto Pasuwa and his lieutenants have all the players they might need and there is serious competition for places in the midfield where Denver Mukamba, Murape Murape, Tawanda Muparati, Archford Gutu, Milton Makopa and Devon Chafa are vying for starting places.
DeMbare beat Highlanders 3-1 in their last league match at Rufaro and Chihoro said they hope to take it up from where they left off. Having scored six goals in their last two matches, you get a feeling Dynamos are due for an away goal tomorrow and the experience of Malajila could come in handy for the team.
But the Colliery is not an easy place to visit and Motor Action found themselves trailing 0-3, after just 20 minutes, before they fought back to lose 2-3. The last game in this ground, last Saturday, was marred by poor officiating which ruined Gunners’ quest for the Mbada Diamonds Cup with FC Platinum prevailing in a penalty shootout.
One only hopes Fair Play will prevail in this big clash.
Kiglon v Monomotapa (Gwanzura), Hwange v Dynamos (Colliery), Highlanders v Gunners (Barbourfields), FC Platinum v Shabanie Mine (Mandava), Motor Action v Shooting Stars (Motor Action), Masvingo v Zimbabwe Saints (Mucheke), Chicken Inn v Black Mambas (Luveve), CAPS United v Blue Ribbon (National Sports Stadium).