By Augustine Hwata
Dynamos………………………………….. (1) 3
Lesotho Correctional Services………….…..0
UGANDAN international Boban Zirintusa scored on his Dynamos debut as the Harare giants cruised to an easy Champions League preliminary round first leg victory over Lesotho Correctional Services at Rufaro yesterday.
Zirintusa, who arrived at the Glamour Boys from Northern Region Division One outfit Twalumba, headed home in the 59th minute, his goal sandwiched between a stunning opener by skipper Tawanda Muparati and a stinging free-kick from defender Partson Jaure.
The scoreline however, does scant justice to the manner in which Dynamos were so dominant and the visitors, twice having to thank the woodwork for denying Dynamos more goals.
Lesotho Correctional Services also had their goalkeeper to thank for pulling a couple of fine saves to block the marauding Dynamos forwards.
Given the manner in which they dominated the game before an appreciative crowd of about 15 000, Dynamos know they got their first step into the 2013 Champions League right and must now fancy their chances going into the return leg in Maseru in two weeks’ time.
Despite the convincing win, DeMbare coach Callisto Pasuwa, insisted that his charges should not get carried away.
Pasuwa probably remembers how Dynamos seemed to have wrapped up victory over MC Alger of Algeria when they travelled to the North African country carrying a 4-1 win before they fell 3-0 and were knocked out on the away goal’s rule.
The Dynamos coach is not even flattered by sentiments from his Lesotho Correctional Services counterpart, Moshili Mokhutu, who conceded after the game that it will be an uphill task to wipe out the deficit in Maseru.
Skipper Muparati thrust the hosts into the lead in the 20th minute when he beat the Lesotho prison warders’ goalkeeper Sam Khetsekile from outside the box to warm the hearts of the crowd.
Zirintusa, increased the Dynamos lead when he headed in a fine cross that was whipped into the box by rightback Thomas Magorimbo in the 59th minute.
Dynamos did not release their foot off the pedal as they kept on pressing with leftback Augustine Mbara making a good run before sending a low cross into the box, but Poloko Mohale and Ntobo Moitheri managed to thwart the lurking danger.
Centre back Jaure then scored his first Champions League goal when he put the game beyond the reach of the visitors, through a stunning free-kick, struck with power and precision.
An LCS player was adjudged to have fouled substitute Farai Mupasiri, midway into their own half and Jaure went behind the ball to score a beauty, which beat the wall and Khetsekile in the 70th minute.
Ziruntusa could have scored another goal in the 88th minute when he exchanged neat passes with Mupasari before they worked their way past the visitors’ defence only for the Ugandan midfielder to direct his effort wide.
While impressed with both the result and performance, Pasuwa feels that there is more work for his team if they are to make a bigger impression in this year’s edition of the Champions League.
For the past two editions, Dynamos have failed to go beyond the second round of the competition and the road ahead appears bumpy with the Zimbabwe champions set to face either Al Ittihad of Libya or Bizirtin of Tunisia, who played a 1-1 draw in their first leg in Tunisia.
“It might appear a comfortable lead for us but I am saying if we can score three goals, we have to be very careful when we go for the reverse fixture,” said Pasuwa. Even in triumph, Pasuwa remained modest.
“I could see that they are a very good side, very comfortable with the ball. So we will have to work on our weaknesses so that we get a win when playing away,” said Pasuwa.
Pasuwa, who led Dynamos to back-to-back Premiership and cup doubles, is eager to reach the mini-league stage of the competition.
“We missed a number of chances in the match. They (the players) were hurrying things in the box. We need to be very patient sometimes when we are in the opponents’ box if we want to get the goals.
“Maybe it was the pressure which came from the need to score more goals. And on the break, we were attacking with eight players going forward but we left gaps at the back.
“So when we play away, we have to leave maybe three players and have a compact four-line defence and have the other guys attacking,” said Pasuwa.
Dynamos were left crippled in their attack after three of the strikers they had registered for the campaign ended up joining other clubs.
Simba Sithole, who was expected to be leading light, joined South African Premiership side SuperSport United while Roderick Mutuma is at Bloemfontein Celtics and the speedy Martin Vengesayi is at local rivals, Harare City.
Although Muparati, Zirintusa and Jaure found the target, the star of the Dynamos show was ageless midfielder Murape Murape, who worked himself to a standstill yesterday.
While Murape was inspirational, Russell Madamombe, who was making his debut for the Harare giants failed to exhibit the potential he showed while at Monomotapa, probably because of stage fright.
Pasuwa attributed the midfielder’s below par show to a knock he received during training last week.
“Russell was coming from an injury and it was his first game. We had to force him to play when he had trained for maybe a week. We had a shortage of strikers, so we had to play him,” Pasuwa added.
On Friday last week, Fransisco Zekumbawire joined Dynamos training but the player is back at Hwange awaiting his official clearance.
“I think our executive will have to talk about him (Zekumbawire). We have been waiting for his clearance from Hwange and until yesterday there was nothing. So we could not field him,” said Pasuwa.
While Pasuwa is hoping to reach the money-spinning mini-league, Mokhuthu is now praying for something more than a miracle to give his team a passage in the first round.
Lesotho Correctional Services have never gone beyond the preliminary stage of the Champions League and it does not look like they will be breaking the jinx.
“I am worried because we wanted to proceed from this stage. Dynamos are a tough side and I have to accept it but we will try to see if we can turn the tables when we go back home,” said Mokhutu.
Mokhutu believes his goalkeeper — Khetsekile — made the difference as they could have lost by a wider margin.
“I have to give my goalkeeper credit because we could have lost by a much bigger margin. My boys seemed to get tired in the second half. They did not expect so much pressure from Dynamos and that’s why we lost the game,” he said.
However, in a show of courage, Mokhutu hopes his team will score three goals in Maseru.
“If Dynamos can score three goals at home, then we can also score three goals but it will be an uphill task. I hope that one of my strikers will be available for the return leg,” Mokhutu.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Prison Services last night hosted a banquet for their counterparts from Lesotho at Harare Central Prison after both the Commissioner of Prisons Paradzai Zimondi and Air Force Commander Perrence Shiri watched the match at Rufaro.
Dynamos: G. Chigova, T. Magorimbo, A. Mbara, G. Bello, P. Jaure, D. Chafa, C. Sekete (T. Mabvura 68th min), B. Zirintusa, M. Murape, T. Muparati, R. Madamombe, (F. Mupasiri 58th min)
Lesotho Correctional Services: S. Khetsekile, R. Mokhalana, G. Tsepo, P. Mohale, N. Moitheri, K. Lethabele, L. Lehloka (L. Molefe 73rd min), K. Nthobane, T. Ranchobe, K.Sesinyi. K. Tseliso.