By Grace Chingoma
Former Zimbabwe international Cephas Chimedza believes Sunday’s Harare Derby showdown between his two former clubs could be one of their best battles in years.
The midfielder starred for both sides but enjoyed his best years at the Green Machine where he was crowned Soccer Star of the Year.
He has been based in Belgium for years now. DeMbare have worked their way into third place in the championship race despite having had an indifferent start to the campaign.
The Glamour Boys have now thrust themselves as favourites to win the league championship although they face stiff competition from Chicken Inn, Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum.
CAPS United, who made history this year by qualifying for the group stages of the CAF Champions League for the first time in their history – beating five-time champions TP Mazembe of the DRC and Zamalek of Egypt – have also found their form on the domestic front. The Green Machine are unbeaten in their last six league matches.
“With both sides playing well at the moment, I think this is going to be one of the best derbies in years,” said Chimedza.
“The fact that both teams are playing well and full of confidence makes it more exciting for the players, coaches and above all the fans. As for who will win, I would say the team that will manage to deal well with the nerves on the day (will win),” he said.
Interestingly, Chimedza never won a Harare Derby match in the DeMbare colours, but enjoyed success while playing for the Green Machine.
He said both clubs still occupied a special place in his heart ad he grew up supporting DeMbare, but enjoyed his best years at CAPS United.
“I won important matches with DeMbare, the ones against Highlanders. With CAPS United, I never won against Bosso.
“I like both teams. Growing up, I was a DeMbare boy through and through. And CAPS United signed me after they saw me shining at Dynamos,” said Chimedza. Chimedza yesterday relieved his derby moments.
“Usually, I never changed the way I prepared for matches, but when I moved to CAPS United that was the only time Twine (Phiri, the former CAPS boss) came to address the team at training.
“It was one game he never wanted to lose. With Twine, it was simple and straightforward, guys this is the game we have to win at all costs.
“I remember all the derby games I played in (during his career in the local league).
“First one was in 2002 at Rufaro, while still at Dynamos, CAPS United needed three points in the last two matches of the season to avoid relegation and they beat us 1-0 and in the last match they lost to Buymore. My next derby was in 2003, first match of the season at the National Sports Stadium, I got injured in the first half, a victim of a David Sengu tackle, I watched the rest of the match on television at Avenues Clinic. And we lost 2-0.
“Then the return leg game at Rufaro, we drew 0-0.
“Then he changed colours.
“I moved to CAPS United in 2004, first game versus Dynamos was Week eight and I got called all sorts of names.
“We won 2-1 playing with a man down for more than an hour after late Silent Katumba was red carded in the first half.
“Playing the first half on the Vietnam side was bad because most of the abuse came from that side, but I wasn’t affected that much. In the build up to the game, a lot of Dynamos fans I met in the streets told me what to expect from them and I have to say they delivered,” said Chimedza.
*Saturday:* Yadah v Bantu Rovers (National Sports Stadium), Bulawayo City v ZPC Kariba (White City, 1pm), How Mine v Chicken Inn (White City, 3pm). Harare City v Tsholotsho (Rufaro, 1pm, SS), Black Rhinos v Triangle (Rufaro, 3pm, SS).
CAPS United v Dynamos (NSS, 3pm, SS), Highlanders v Chapungu (White City), Hwange v FC Platinum (Colliery), Shabanie Mine v Ngezi Platinum (Maglas). The Herald