By Eddie Chikamhi
This appears to be the toughest remaining hurdle for champions Dynamos to clear and the Glamour Boys concede that they have a tough task this afternoon in a Castle Lager Premiership tie at Mandava.
It’s a clash that is pregnant with historical significance because it was in this stadium, three years ago, when DeMbare poached a win that laid the foundation for their dominance of the domestic football scene.
DeMbare return to action today following a two-week sabbatical as they aim to safeguard their position at the top of the table after opening a three-point lead in the last league matches played a fortnight ago.
Their rivals in the championship race, Highlanders, also have a tricky away assignment in their date with resurgent Harare City at Rufaro this afternoon.
The Glamour Boys coach Callisto Pasuwa yesterday challenged his players to brace for a big fight as they expect to find the platinum miners in their best form following a good run recently.
DeMbare have managed to knit together a proud run of 11 matches without loss in the Castle Lager Premiership competition.
Pasuwa believes his side have picked good form, at the right time, especially on the back of their comprehensive 4-1 thrashing of bitter rivals Highlanders in their last competitive match in the TM Pick n Pay Challenge Cup.
His main worry, however, is on the players’ attitude.
“We are ready for the match.
“We have been trying to psyche up everyone in the house.
“We played our last game against Highlanders and won 4-1 but that doesn’t mean the next assignment will be easy,” said Pasuwa.
“We should continue working hard to collect maximum points.
“Just as FC Platinum are training hard to get these points, we need to go there with the right attitude and put on maximum effort.
“The good thing is we didn’t stop training and besides Masimba Mambare, Walter Mukanga and Themba Ndlovu, who is suspended, everyone else is available for selection.
“Remember FC Platinum are one of the teams that are chasing the championship. At this point you can’t say they are out of the race yet.
“I have said this before, the league race is still open for many teams, especially those in the top eight. So we shouldn’t sleep on duty.”
DeMbare, however, were dealt a blow ahead of this match with the suspension of key defender Themba Ndlovu.
Pasuwa will be forced to tinker around with his players and due to the limited options in defence, new-boy Elisha Muroyiwa might get his first starting place alongside Augustine Mbara.
Sydney Linyama could have been an option but there were concerns about the towering defender’s fitness as he is nursing a cut above his right eye.
Pasuwa, though, should be a happy man with the good form that key players such as Tafadzwa Rusike, Simba Sithole, Washington Pakamisa and Mbara are enjoying.
Matches between Dynamos and Kugona Kunenge Kudada have been tense since FC Platinum’s arrival on the big stage with a fairy tale run in 2011 when they ran neck-to-neck with Dynamos before losing the championship race to their more established opponents at the last minute.
The sides have clashed twice this year with each team winning once.
FC Platinum beat Dynamos in the final of the Independence Cup on penalties, after having forced a late equaliser to deny the Glamour Boys silverware at the National Sports Stadium an April 18.
However, Dynamos had their perfect revenge a month later at the same venue.
FC Platinum, though, were not convinced by the 1-0 defeat despite dominating the exchanges on the afternoon.
Ocean Mushure scored from the penalty spot after referee Ruzive Ruzive adjudged Simba Sithole was fouled inside the box.
But FC Platinum will obviously go into the match with their tails up following the two back-to-back wins over giants CAPS United in the ZNA Charities finals and in the Chibuku Super Cup.
The arrival of Dynamos, though, will give Norman Mapeza, the FC Platinum coach, a better assessment of whether his men have really hit good form, as evidenced by their wins over the Green Machine, or they just overran a team whose concentration levels were blurred by events in their camp.
If FC Platinum can convincingly beat DeMbare, which they can do if they refuse to be intimidated, then Mapeza will know that whatever he is doing at the club has started to bear fruit.
Last year FC Platinum beat Dynamos 2-0 at Mandava, to record their first ever win over DeMbare.
FC Platinum vice-captain Thabani Kamusoko said they will not leave anything to chance as they still hope to revive their campaign in the championship race.
“I think it will be tough because all eyes are on this match this weekend. It’s the big game and we are geared for it.
“We all know what to do when faced with such a game.
“The last time they played here they lost and obviously this time around they would want to win. But we also want the points.
“Our chances in the race are not that great but if we can win all our remaining games who knows what may happen?” said Kamusoko.
Today: Chicken Inn v Bantu Rovers (Hartsfield), FC Platinum v Dynamos (Mandava), Harare City v Highlanders (Rufaro), Chiredzi v Shabanie Mine (Chishamiso), ZPC Kariba v Black Rhinos (Gwanzura)
Tomorrow: CAPS United v How Mine (Rufaro), Buffaloes v Triangle United (Sakubva), Hwange v Chapungu (Colliery). The Herald