By Augustine Hwata
DYNAMOS’ fans feel they are being betrayed by the club’s leadership following the hike in gate entry charges to US$5, for the cheapest ticket, for Sunday’s Champions League tie against African champions Esperance at Rufaro.
The supporters believe the fee will keep thousands of the fans away from Rufaro on Sunday and, instead of working in favour of the Glamour Boys, it suits the interests of the Tunisian giants. The social media forums have been buzzing since the announcement that fans will pay a minimum of US$5 to watch the second leg of this second round tie.
The Glamour Boys trail the Tunisians 0-6 from the first leg, their worst beating on the continent in 30 years, and are aiming at becoming the first team, in close to half-a-century, to overturn such a deficit in Africa’s flagship inter-club tournament.
Their fans believe that the match shouldn’t be turned into a commercial event, for making money, by the club and in a situation where the Glamour Boys’ pride is at stake, emphasis should have been placed on ensuring that more supporters come to the stadium.
It’s now likely that the US$5 charge will keep thousands of fans at home, at a time when the DeMbare players need a full house as they try to succeed in Mission Impossible, and the Glamour Boys will not only lose the contest but will generate less revenue, at this fee, than at a lower charge.
Dynamos secretary, Ray Kazembe, last night insisted that the cheapest ticket will remain at US$5 because that was the decision endorsed by the executive.
But although Kazembe wasn’t ready to discuss the finer material of that decision, The Herald has it on good authority that the executive wasn’t united on this one although the majority of the members favoured the US$5 entry charge.
Those who wanted a US$3 charge for the cheapest ticket, but lost the battle, were arguing that at this time of the month, disposable income was tight among their fans and increasing the gate charges would be suicidal.
The result of the first leg, a 0-6 battering suffered by DeMbare, is also likely to dilute the interest in the encounter, which probably needed the executive to give their fans an incentive to come to the stadium, by reducing the ticket prices, rather than ‘punishing’ them with an expensive ticket.
Others also believe that Dynamos must have charged US$1, for the cheapest ticket, so that the fans pay a token amount, with the club declaring that it was their way of apologising to the supporters for the debacle in Tunisia.
“When you look at what is happening, it’s like our executive is telling us that please don’t come to Rufaro on Sunday, we don’t need you, just let Esperance play, before 5 000 supporters, and walk away with the win,” said one fan on Facebook.
“You can see they have not only given up hope but they even want to punish us with expensive seats to watch this mess. I would have thought they would have just said this game is for free because they owe us an apology for what happened in Tunisia.”
DeMbare supporters’ cheerleader, Chris “Romario” Musekiwa, also went on cyberspace yesterday, like thousands of his fellow fans, to make his point. “To our executive, do you know the importance of the supporter, the 12th player, on Sunday?” he asked on Facebook.
“US$5 is just too much as we seek to have a 45 000-plus strong crowd for the big match.” Musekiwa, though, still believed his beloved Glamour Boys will triumph against all the odds.
“North African referees for Dynamos: In Jesus Christ we trust, mountains will be moved on Sunday as DeMbare seek a milestone achievement by hammering the famed cup holders, Esperance 7-0 at Rufaro,” posted Musekiwa.
“I had a dream on the do-or-die encounter and was convinced Dynamos will defy the odds and prevail.
“Our God is of unlimited possibilities. Genesis 18 verse 14 says: ‘Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Nothing.’ Sarah bore a son, Isaac, at 90 years when Abraham was 100 years old.
“With God, everything is possible. Our players should remain focussed, have self-belief and, more importantly, play as a team and try to pass the ball to anyone who will be in a scoring position. To all the supporters, we want a carnival atmosphere in all the four bays at Rufaro.”
The Tunisians, who are expected to arrive this afternoon, will be without their playmaker, Youssef Msakni, the destroyer-in-chief of the Glamour Boys in Tunis, who is suspended for this encounter after picking up three yellow cards.
But it’s one game that Esperance would have loved to play without their creative genius given that this is purely a defensive mission. A two-man advance team from Esperance was set to arrive in Harare yesterday while the rest of their squad will come this evening.
Dynamos are unlikely to be without defensive midfielder, Milton Makopa, after he failed to train again at Rufaro yesterday. The midfield hardman has been sidelined by injury throughout this week and is now a doubt for Sunday’s game.
Makopa also had the misfortune of missing the first leg in Tunis two weeks ago after he was informed that he was ineligible to play while the team was in transit. The player was suspended after picking up three yellow cards in the competition, with some of the cards accumulating from last year.
Makopa was back in action for the domestic league when DeMbare beat Buffaloes 2-0 at Sakubva. “I have failed to train once again today. This is because of a groin injury on the left side,” said Makopa.
“I have also pulled a hamstring on the right. So I have not been able to train so far and I am a little short in terms of fitness level.”
But on a mission where the emphasis is on attack, Makopa’s defensive game could be sacrifised, without much cost on the team, although the stability he gives to the team is key.
The midfield is DeMbare’s weakest link and, although their camp is bubbling with confidence that they can stage a miracle, you feel that without a creative spark in midfield, scoring half the goals they need to overhaul the deficit, will be a big task.
In the 48-year history of the competition, no team has been able to overturn such a huge setback from the first leg and progress to the next round.
But for Dynamos, pride is still at stake because a victory, even without qualifying, is important because no Class of Glamour Boys have ever beaten Esperance in this tournament.
This week, Dynamos players joined in chorus and rallied each other to give their best and show that the 6-0 drubbing in Tunisia was just a fluke.