By Eddie Chikamhi
Has the pressure, something they handled admirably last year as everyone around them collapsed, finally caught up with Dynamos at a crucial period in the championship race?
Has the role of playing the hunted, as opposed to the one they played last season when they were stalking others, piled the pressure on the Glamour Boys?
After an own goal by Daniel Veremu swung the championship race in DeMbare’s favour last year, has lightning struck again with an own goal by Guthrie Zhokinyi going to play a big role in deciding this championship race?
Why have the Glamour Boys become ordinary, overnight, they have battled long and hard, sometimes needing all the luck in this world, just to scarp a win in their last few matches? So many questions, so many answers expected by their fans.
The Harare giants have not been in the best of health since the difficult game against Harare City two weeks ago and needed to ride on the back of their luck to escape unscathed in the ensuing games against Quelaton and Motor Action.
But on Wednesday they finally paid for their slump in form when they lost 1-0 to Chicken Inn. The defeat cost them their top spot on the log standings to give title rivals Highlanders the advantage in the race with only seven matches remaining.
DeMbare slipped to second place with 52 points from 23 games to let Bosso take control with 53 points. It now appears the contest will go all the way, like what happened last season when DeMbare had to wrestle the crown from FC Platinum in the penultimate game of the season.
Dynamos’ coach Callisto Pasuwa yesterday spoke about his team’s poor form, but sounded positive the Harare giants will work their way out of the current slump. “We knew this was coming at one stage or another,” said Pasuwa.
“It’s a phase which needed to be avoided, but we have been facing challenges with injuries and suspensions to some of our players. Because of that the starting team has been changing regularly. We have been rotating our players more often and as a result we lost that fluidity and the rhythm.”
DeMbare appeared to have hit the right chords in the last month, with their midfield magician Denver Mukamba in top form as he helped the side post impressive back-to-back victories over rivals FC Platinum, CAPS United and Gunners.
It looked they were now in total control of their destiny. Sadly they could not maintain the momentum for long.
DeMbare had to fight hard for a point against Bigboy Mawiwi’s Harare City early this month and needed a penalty shootout to overcome lowly Quelaton to pull through to the quarter-finals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup following another poor show in front of their supporters at Rufaro.
Pasuwa said it was normal that pressure should mount for both his side and Highlanders as they are running neck-and-neck in the title race. “The pressure is always there because we need maximum points from each and every game,” said Pasuwa.
“We have been telling the boys to remain positive and to concentrate on each match as it comes. Remember last season we experienced a bad situation when we went to Masvingo and lost a crucial game at almost the same period of the campaign?
“That is why I am saying we need to be mentally strong at this stage of the race. We could have experienced a setback, but what is important is how we are going to react to this. How you plan to raise yourself up after falling is important.”
Turning to the Chicken Inn game, Pasuwa said DeMbare were always going to find it difficult playing such a big game at the home of their main rivals in the championship race. Defender Zhokinyi beat his own goalkeeper George Chigova to gift the hosts the winner late in the game.
DeMbare are now preparing for another tricky assignment against Shabanie Mine at Rufaro on Sunday. “The game at Chicken Inn is now behind us and we have to concentrate on the coming assignments,” said Pasuwa.
“It’s a fact that all teams in the Premiership, no matter how big or small, fight hard when they play against Dynamos. We made a mistake and they benefited from it. The other thing was the officiating. I wouldn’t want to talk about it, but it left a lot to be desired. It appeared we were in a war with everyone.
“But if we had taken our chances the story could have been different. We had few chances in the first half, but we played well in the second and created many opportunities.” The Herald