By Grace Chingoma
There are many who believe this was Denver Mukamba’s finest hour on a football field — the lanky forward turning on a super show which was dripping with purity at Barbourfields to lead his Glamour Boys to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over bitter rivals CAPS United.
Organisers of this Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-final, in November 2012, had taken it to the neutral fields of the City of Kings and Denver — the boy who would soon be crowned King in domestic football — transformed himself into the conductor of the orchestra in a destruction of the Green Machine.
He was simply unplayable that afternoon, running rings around CAPS United defenders and inspiring his team to a deserved victory.
Mukamba scored one goal, but that only told a part of the story as the Glamour Boys, firing on all cylinders, powered to a big win over their mesmerised opponents.
Roderick Mutuma and Simba Sithole, who — unlike Mukamba — would later see their loyalty to the DeMbare cause being tainted by flirtations with the Green Machine, scored the other goals.
But, the two were just part-players to the Denver super show that afternoon amid rising expectations that the next big thing in Zimbabwean football had arrived.
It was too much for the then CAPS United vice president Farai Jere to bear and, just hours after the end of that match, the Harare businessman announced he had quit his post.
Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association boss Eddie “Mboma’’ Nyatanga, who was with Jere in his Bulawayo hotel room on the night the CAPS United leader announced he was leaving his post, revealed the Harare businessman broke down on the day.
But, five years later, a lot has changed. Jere is now the owner of CAPS United and this is a big weekend for him after he graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy Honours degree at the University of Zimbabwe.
His Green Machine are also the champions of Zimbabwe football.
Mukamba, in sharp contrast, is battling some demons that have seen him resembling a shell of the magician who promised a lot during that season in which he was also crowned Soccer Star of the Year.
He is still at Dynamos, having returned last year from an unsuccessful stint in South Africa where he badly lost his way — amid reports he lost the passion to keep working hard believing his natural skills would always drive him to superstardom — and something just doesn’t look right with him.
He was pulled out in the Battle of Zimbabwe against Highlanders at Rufaro on Sunday by coach Lloyd Mutasa when it became clear he wasn’t adding any value to the team, and he appeared unhappy with his latest substitution as he trooped to the technical bench.
At least, and it’s something one has to applaud him for, he retained his cool — as emotions exploded inside him — and didn’t go straight to the dressing room.
His teammate, Cameroonian striker Christian Epoupa Ntouba, could not control his emotions and ended up headbutting Bosso defender Peter Muduhwa on the day and being sent off.
Tomorrow, at Rufaro, Denver is set for another showdown against the old enemy in the final chapter of the Harare Derby in the championship race this year.
Denver says he is still the same player, even though a lot of people now doubt that, and as part of his efforts to convince those doubting Thomases that he still has got the magic, he badly needs a big performance tomorrow and spoil Jere’s big weekend.
“When I started my career back then, I used to do very well in such games and I have been encouraging the younger players we now have in the team to give it their best on Sunday,’’ said Denver.
“When I arrived as a young player, I proved many people wrong, but at times, days are dark. People are quick to judge that I am a spent force, but I am still working hard.
“When I returned here last season and I scored against Harare City and in the Derby. And on Sunday I want to show that I am still the same Denver.
“People are still expecting a lot from me. I have been playing well this season.’’ He acknowledged playing three big games in three straight weeks has been taking a toll on them.
“There is a lot of pressure playing these games,’’ said Denver. “For the past two weeks it has not been easy for us because everyone has been putting hundred percent.
“We are a happy lot, we beat CAPS United 2-0, but against Highlanders we were disappointed as a team, our performance was not very good. But at the end of the day, we picked a point which is good.
“It is a tough game against CAPS United, but we just have to motivate each other. “It is a different game from the Highlanders tie. We would be happy if we can score like we have been doing in previous matches, winning by at least more than a goal.
“On Sunday, we will miss our top striker (Christian Ntouba), who is in great form, but we are looking forward to have another player get those goals for us, hopefully it will be me.”
Denver’s revelations that the Cameroonian will not play puts to rest the issue of his availability with Dynamos making the right decision rather than fielding him and getting points deducted from their tally.
The Glamour Boys will go top of the table should they win tomorrow.
Mukamba has scored six league goals this season. The Herald