By Langton Nyakwenda
It is unfortunate Dynamos will not have one of their secret weapons — the 12th man — when they launch their assault on the Chibuku Super Cup that has so far eluded them.
Dynamos date Herentals in a Group One fixture at the National Sports Stadium today at 3pm.
It will be the second of a double-header that begins with Chibuku Super Cup specialists Harare City taking on ZPC Kariba at 11am.
But the absence of the vociferous and yet intimidating Dynamos crowd could provide a soft landing for some of DeMbare’s new signings, most of whom came from so-called small teams, where they were used to play before empty stadiums.
The absence of fans due to strict Covid-19 protocols has been a major talking point given DeMbare have always banked on its colourful supporters, who at times confuse or even intimidate match officials.
It will be a similar tale for Dynamos’ biggest rivals Highlanders, who date Bulawayo Chiefs at their favourite hunting ground, Barbourfields Stadium, this afternoon, but without the inspirational chorus from the Soweto End.
Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya, however, thinks the absence of the demanding fans could be an advantage for his new boys.
“Remember, we won the Uhuru Cup without our supporters in the stadium and that’s the approach we are going to take going forward.
“On top of that, most of the players we have recruited are not used to playing before a huge crowd, so that is a plus on our side in these trying times.
“We have brought in players from different so-called small clubs, where they played before empty stadiums, so that is also giving us a lift.
“So, the issue of fans in the stadium is not really going to affect us; we should be okay,” Ndiraya said.
But he will quietly admit that Dynamos could also look ordinary without the push from their loyal fans.
Amongst the new faces at the Glamour Boys are central midfielder Shadreck Nyahwa, who joined from Bulawayo Chiefs, and Trevor Mavhunga, who arrived from Triangle.
They joined the likes of Jean Mutudza (Herentals), Barnabas Mushunje (Ngezi Platinum Stars), David Temwanjira (Shabanie Mine), King Nadolo (TelOne), Taimon Mvula (Hwange) and Sylvester Appiah (ZPC Kariba), who signed for Dynamos just before the coronavirus struck.
Ndiraya has been psyching up his players in the build-up to the Chibuku Super Cup by reminding the new boys about what it means wearing the club’s famous blue jersey.
“The difference now is that they are now playing for a big club with a huge following, so even if we are not going to have any fans in the stadium, we know and understand that they will be rooting for the team on various social media platforms and, of course, on television and radio stations . . .
“So, wherever we are going to play, we are going to play with our fans in mind and with the belief that they are watching us from wherever they are.”
On the flip side, Ndiraya believes the absence of fans might deprive the contest of the carnival atmosphere it deserves.
“It’s unfortunate we can’t have them (fans), and it’s an unfortunate situation for the new players because they were going to really enjoy the huge crowd associated with our team.
“Basically, it was going to improve their character.”
Herentals gaffer Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva is happy to face Dynamos without their fans.
“We are happy that we will play in an empty stadium because Dynamos normally depend on their 12th man . . .
“So, this could be an advantage to us because we are used to playing before small crowds. At the same time, this is a cup game, it’s anyone’s game. We are targeting to win against this big club.
“Their (Dynamos) slight advantage is that they played Highlanders in the Presidential Uhuru Cup recently, but we still believe we are at the same level.
“We have got youngsters who are relishing the chance to showcase their abilities. Besides, we always strive to do our best or be the best in every competition, so we are looking forward to this cup competition with a positive mind.”
Highlanders coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu has dedicated their match against Chiefs to their fans.
“Our fans will not be there. They have always been very cheerful and they give us an edge. They make life difficult for our opponents at Barbourfields, but they are not available,” lamented Mpofu.
“However, we have so far played two games in an empty stadium. We played Dynamos, we played FC Platinum in a friendly, so we are getting used to it, but at the same time our supporters will be actually waiting for those results.
“You know how our supporters are in terms of wanting this team to win. But, nevertheless, as I said, we will play for them. They are not in the stadium but the most important thing is we want to make them happy.”
Bosso will be without key players Joel “Josta” Ngodzo, Winston Mhango and Keith Mavhunga, who are yet to get their reverse international clearances from Zambia.
Also facing the same predicament are Lynoth Chikuhwa, who was in Botswana; Peter Muduhwa, who has returned from Simba SC in Tanzania; and the unheralded Rodi Sibanda, whose last team was Orlando Pirates.
“I am channelling my energy to all those who are eligible to play. So far, I think we are in good shape, though I have got some little injuries that I might manage come Sunday (today).
“Nqo (Nqobizitha Masuku) is having a groin, Chrispen Ncube hamstring, Devine Mhindiriri knee, but they have been taking part in light training. Hopefully, they will pass a late fitness test,” said Mpofu.
“We are playing a bogey team, a team that has always given us some headaches. They have beaten us before and we have also beaten them before . . . so it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
“We want to progress to the next stage, which means our game with Chiefs is equally as important as all the other games that we will play in this group.We really need to defend this cup.”
Bosso are also in the same group with Chicken Inn and Bulawayo City.
In other fixtures today, Ngezi Platinum Stars face Triangle at Mandava at 11am, while Manica Diamonds entertain Cranborne Bullets at Sakubva in the afternoon.
Ngezi Platinum Stars v Triangle (Mandava 11am), Harare City v ZPC Kariba (NSS 11am), Bulawayo Chiefs v Highlanders (Barbourfields 1pm), Herentals v Dynamos (NSS 3pm), Manica Diamonds v Cranborne Bullets (Sakubva 3pm). The Sunday Mail