By Eddie Chikamhi
UNDER-PERFORMING giants Dynamos and Highlanders will need to punch above their weights to produce a show worthy of the traditional Battle of Zimbabwe in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Barbourfields tomorrow.
The country’s most successful teams, which share 23 league championships between themselves since Independence, now lack the quality that made their duels the games to look out for in the season. But the rivalry has run out of gloss following years of playing second fiddle to well-resourced newcomers that are taking all the best talents on the market.
The giants come into this year’s clash on the back of disappointing performances.
Whether the latest duel will be able to maintain its blockbuster status or not, Highlanders and Dynamos get satisfaction more on getting the bragging rights. Hosts Highlanders currently enjoy an edge over their opponents.
They demolished Dynamos 3-0 at Barbourfields on their last meeting to complete back-to-back wins in the 2018 campaign.
Dynamos last beat Highlanders in 2016 when they were awarded the match on a 3-0 scoreline in the boardroom following crowd trouble that had led to the abandonment of their original encounter. DeMbare coach Tonderai Ndiraya, a veteran of many such tense encounters as a player, is upbeat his improving side will collect maximum points in tomorrow’s encounter.
“It has always been interesting to play Highlanders particularly at Barbourfields. Those are the kind of matches we always looked forward to. As a club, we have enjoyed some warm support from our supporters in that part of the country. So it’s been really nice for us, and I am hoping that we will give them something on Sunday,” said Ndiraya.
“However, it has been difficult (in Bulawayo this year), we have played three games and got not so good results but we are hoping that we can pull a shocker and get a result against one of the best teams in the country. Of course they are struggling, we are also struggling but I thought in terms of improvements we are way ahead of Highlanders and we are taking confidence from that fact.”
Dynamos are currently 10th on the log standings with 15 points from 11 games.
Madinda Ndlovu’s struggling giants slipped further into the bottom four on 11 points from as many matches last weekend when they slumped to a 0-1 defeat to Yadah. DeMbare were boosted by the return of captain Edward Sadomba and the foreign trio of Vincent Mbega, Claude Ngahan Junior and Ghanaian Robert Sackey from injuries.
“It’s a game which we have really prepared for, arguably the biggest game on our football calendar locally so we have been focusing on that. It’s a game which you really don’t need to motivate the guys because they really know how they are supposed to go about the business.
“This is the time to shine and to make your name; that has been the message. That’s why it has been easy to motivate these players,” said Ndiraya.
Highlanders started this year’s championship on the wrong footing and they are feeling the pressure. Bosso coach Ndlovu understands the importance of winning tomorrow to get their campaign back in the right tracks.
“We will not allow a defeat, it’s not acceptable this Sunday. That’s how Highlanders is and that’s the nature of these games and we know about it. We are training very well. The boys are in good spirits. They were not pulled down by the loss to Yadah. They admitted you lose some and you win some. We all understand and know the Dynamos games. The players are self-motivated, everyone wants to be in the team. That is the kind of situation that we are having in training,” said Ndlovu.
The PSL will try out their new e-ticketing system for this game. The cheapest ticket has been pegged at $10 while fans are expected to pay $20 for the upper grand stand seats and $50 for the VIP. Meanwhile, the league programme will take a three-week break from June 17 to July 6 to allow a window for the AFCON tournament which starts in Egypt next week.
Today: Bulawayo Chiefs v FC Platinum (Luveve), Chapungu v Yadah (Mandava), Black Rhinos v ZPC Kariba (NSS), Harare City v Herentals (Rufaro).
Tomorrow: CAPS United v TelOne (NSS), Triangle v Chicken Inn (Gibbo), Mushowani v Hwange (Rufaro), Highlanders v Dynamos (Barbourfields), Manica Diamonds v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Vengere). The Herald