By Eddie Chikamhi
As Dynamos and CAPS United were winding preparations for Sunday’s Harare Derby yesterday, workers were also busy setting up the stage at the National Sports Stadium for a church service.
The giant stadium, which is set to host one of the country’s biggest fixtures, has been booked for a church service which is set to end tomorrow.
The stadium is run by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
The service is likely to worsen the pathetic state of the turf at the stadium, which has not been maintained to expectations, and has become bumpy.
Some Warriors have said it’s the worst condition of the surface they have played on at the stadium they use for their home matches.
With the rains that have been pounding Harare this week, there are fears the playing surface could be in its worst condition for the Derby.
Yesterday, as CAPS United were busy putting together the final preparations for the Harare Derby at the National Stadium B arena, workmen were also installing the stage for the church service inside the stadium.
There are concerns from some stakeholders that football, which regularly pays levies to the stadium authorities throughout the year, was not being given a priority.
This is not the first time the Harare Derby has been overshadowed by religious events.
Two years ago, the PSL were forced to postpone the tie after the facility was booked by Nigerian Pastor Chris Oyakhilome for a special service of his Christ Embassy Ministries.
CAPS United, however, paid little attention to what was happening behind them at the giant stadium yesterday with midfielder Ronald Chitiyo said they are focusing on the derby.
“Obviously, this is going to be a very difficult game. But one thing that I know for sure is that it’s not about the results of the past weeks,’’ said Chitiyo.
“It’s about how you are going to play on match day.
“Even if Dynamos are number 15 and CAPS United number 16 on the log standings, this game will always be a difficult match.
“So, this is a very difficult game for both teams because it’s a Derby. In our situation, at CAPS United, we want to win the league and we do not want to drop points, more so against Dynamos.
“But Dynamos are playing for pride and a possible top four finish. It’s more difficult for us but Dynamos always have the pressure from their fans who do not want to lose to CAPS United.
“We are ready however, to handle it.’’
CAPS United go into the Derby on top of the log standings after going two points clear of nearest rivals Chicken Inn and FC Platinum with three games to go.
They have 55 points.
Dynamos are fifth, 11 points behind but they have a chance to push for a top four finish.
The Green Machine have been handicapped by the suspension of striker John Zhuwawu, who has amassed three yellow cards ahead of this assignment.
In their last game against Yadah, CAPS were also advised another striker, Newman Sianchali, was ineligible because of suspension.
Goalkeeper Tonderai Mateyaunga, who picked up a groin injury last week, is set to undergo fitness tests to ascertain whether he makes the team.
His replacement, Prosper Chigumba, was blamed for the first goal Yadah scored as they came back from two goals down to force a draw.
“We had a tough talk on our first day of training. We sat down as a team, we discussed our shortcomings in the Yadah game,’’ said CAPS United coach Darlington Dodo.
“The players appreciated and they were the ones who were actually telling each other the truth, that we did not do the right things in that game.
“When you have a team that can score within 25 minutes two goals, and then you concede within a very short space of time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the defence which was not doing well. “It was the whole team.
“We all agreed that there were some things that we did not do right, defensively as a team, and there were some individuals who did not apply themselves.
“When I make a mistake, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the ball should just go (towards goal) and we concede.
“As players, it must be in us that If I make a mistake, you also cover for me. That’s team work and that is what we lacked in some instances.” The Herald