By Augustine Hwata
Last year, this showdown was for the championship with the winner taking everything and there was a buzz, in Zvishavane and in Harare, that followed the meeting.
Today’s league meeting between FC Platinum and Dynamos hasn’t created the same hype but there is a rivalry that has developed between the two sides that will ensure a full house at Mandava.
FC Platinum are widely regarded as the richest club in the Premiership while Dynamos are the undisputed kings of domestic football, with a rich history to boot. After dangling US$1 000 winning bonuses for each player in this afternoon’s game, FC Platinum have shown they badly need to beat Dynamos at all costs.
It’s something they have failed to do in two league ties and one cup showdown against the Glamour Boys. FC Platinum have surely not forgotten that Sunday on November 13, 2011, when Dynamos marched into Zvishavane and virtually smashed and grabbed the gold from their nose.
Going into that match, FC Platinum were on 55 points after 28 matches while Dynamos were in second position on 52 points. A win or a draw would have been enough to give FC Platinum the league title as they faced an easy task, in the event they drew, against Shooting Stars in the last match.
FC Platinum matched their illustrious rivals blow for blow until the 66th minute when they conceded a free-kick in their own half. Dynamos defender, Guthrie Zhokinyi, whipped the ball into the box and Daniel Veremu flicked it into his own net to give Dynamos the goal that made the difference.
Today, FC Platinum fans will be happy to note that Zhokinyi has been ruled out of the match as he is carrying a hamstring injury. “Guthrie Zhokinyi is out of this game because he picked up an injury during the last match. We want to give him a rest so that he does not aggravate it again,” said the Glamour Boys’ assistant coach Tonderayi Ndiraya.
Dynamos are also missing Zambian forward Derrick Kabwe while new signing Obadiah Tarumbwa is yet to join his new team-mates. Tarumbwa was brought to the squad as a direct replacement for Takesure Chinyama, who has joined South African side Orlando Pirates.
Ndiraya said Dynamos are bubbling with confidence fter getting positive results in the matches against Highlanders (0-0) and CAPS United (1-0). “It’s the third crucial game for us but the good thing is that the boys have had enough rest in between. “They know what is expected of them and playing FC Platinum is just a motivation in itself.
“We managed to beat them in the previous meeting and FC Platinum could be better prepared this time but I would also like to think that we are well prepared,” said Ndiraya. Ndiraya believes that the matches against Highlanders and CAPS United will help them scale this hurdle.
“We have been playing all along and have the rhythm while FC Platinum had been resting. The game might not be having the same excitement like the last match but still the stakes are there. Dynamos need to win and collect maximum points so that we put pressure on the teams at the top.
“A defeat will see us dropping on the ladder. This game is coming at a different time than the last meeting but the three points are still at stakes which could be crucial in deciding the league championship at a later stage,” said Ndiraya.
The Harare giants are likely to field the same team that edged CAPS United with George Chigova set to keep the posts while Thomas Magorimbo and Ocean Mushure are the options for the wingbacks. Skipper George Magariro could replace Zhokinyi in central defence, where he partners Patson Jaure.
Dynamos still have midfielder Milton Makopa, veteran Murape Murape and Tawanda Muparati. Muparati and Rodrick Mutuma are among the 25 players suspended for round 16 fixtures but because Dynamos are fulfilling week 15, the PSL said the Harare giants can opt to use the players and then they miss the mid-week fixture or alternatively.
Utility player Timire Mamvura was in the travelling party alongside Mutuma.
It is in attack that Dynamos look lightweight with Mutuma and Martin Vengesayi are the out-and-out strikers. Ndiraya said that there is an aura of confidence breezing through their dressing room after Desmond Maringwa was registered for the second half of the season.
“Gazza is now eligible to play and everyone in the team is happy. His experience is very vital and all the youngsters in the team are encouraged by his presence. It’s our hope that he will add value to the team because of his experience,” said Ndiraya.
This week, FC Platinum coach Tendai Chikuni said they will seek a positive result despite having at least half a dozen players on the injury list. Chikuni said midfielder Joel Ngodzo, Norman Togara, Tsungi Mudzamiri, Louis Matawu, Frank Mulambo and Donald Ngoma are carrying injuries.
Former Motor Action midfielder, Allen Gahadzikwa, said they were aware of the task at hand. “Everyone is looking forward to this game and we have been training all along during the break. There is some pressure because we are playing at home but this is new game and we are not looking much into previous results,” said Gahadzikwa.
Gahadzikwa is confident that Kugona Kunenge Kudada will be able to field a decent squad. “Everyone in the team in geared for the game. We have injures but every player who is registered will try to give their best,” said Gahadzikwa.
Meanwhile, leaders Highlanders could make it 16 games without defeat if they draw or beat basement club Quelaton in a derby at Barbourfields tomorrow. CAPS United have a tough assignment, to stem a losing streak that has seen then suffer three straight defeats, at the Colliery tomorrow.
Today: FC Platinum v Dynamos (Mandava), Chicken Inn v Harare City (Luveve), Monomotapa v Motor Action (Rufaro), Black Mambas v Blue Rangers (Morris Depot)
Tomorrow: Buffaloes v Hardbody (Sakubva), Highlanders v Quelaton (BF), Shabanie v Gunners (Maglas), Hwange v CAPS (Colliery)