Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
NO matter how one of the two teams is playing heading into the biggest club football match in Zimbabwe, Dynamos and Highlanders, who clash at Rufaro Stadium in the capital this afternoon always bring out their best.
Highlanders coach Erol Akbay, the man who ended the 10-year jinx with back to back victories over Dynamos last season declared in the build up to the eagerly anticipated fixture in the local game that their recent poor form counts for nothing when it comes to taking on Dynamos.
Bosso have lost four matches on the trot with defeats to ZPC Kariba, Tsholotsho, Ngezi Platinum Stars and Chapungu.
“Who wants to win it, these are the guys who win in these matches especially in these kind of games what’s very important is your attitude on the field, how bad you want to work for it, how bad you want to score the goals,’’ said Akbay.
He expects his players to put up a much improved display than the way their have played in recent times.
“It’s about which team wants it more than the other one, that’s why you can never tell in these kind of big games, even if we have lost 10 games in a row but in this kind of game you see different things. You saw last year with Dynamos they were losing lots of matches but when they played us you saw a different Dynamos, this weekend you will see a different Highlanders,’’ Akbay reckoned.
What should give Bosso supporters lots of hope is the fact that Akbay described his strikers as being hungry to deliver against DeMbare.
“I saw how bad they want to score goals, the strikers want to score goals, I was happy with what I saw,’’ he said.
Dynamos coach, Lloyd Mutasa whose side has won six matches in a row believes that they are reaping the rewards for perseverance after their struggles at the start of the season.
“It’s good for us to get into battle with six wins behind us, it certainly boosts the confidence of the young boys. I think if you look at how we started we had new personnel, it was going to be a miracle for the players to make an immediate impression. It has taken time for them to gel,’’ Mutasa said.
Despite their opponents wobbling into the biggest game in the land, Mutasa expects Bosso to rise to the occasion.
“This is one of the biggest games in the country, we expect a tough encounter from Highlanders. We hope our best can give us a positive result. Every team that plays the biggest teams in the country up their game. We don’t look at how they (Highlanders) played against Tsholotsho or Chapungu.
When these teams play against each other it’s always a tough battle,’’ he said.
With his side within touching distance of log leaders Chicken Inn, Mutasa made it clear that they will start talking of the championship if they overcome Highlanders. With DeMbare finishing fifth in 2016, Mutasa is aiming to end in a better position this season.
“Every team would want to be number one but only one team will win it at the end of the season. I would be in a position to say much after the Highlanders match if we are title contenders. You always want to be better than yesterday, we were number five last season, we have assembled a team that is better than the one we had last year,’’ he reckoned.
On which Highlanders players he expects to give his side a hard time this afternoon, Mutasa said Bosso have too many good players capable of putting up a good show.
“I have so much respect for Highlanders as an institution, I was a follower of Highlanders even during my playing days, I know the kind of football they can play, what they have done for Zimbabwean football. Honest Moyo, Ralph Matema, Rahman Kutsanzira, Peter Muduhwa, Erick Mudzingwa, what an exceptional leader, too many good players at Highlanders,’’ Mutasa said.
One player who has distinguished himself at Dynamos this season is Cameroonian striker Christian Epoupa who is now the league’s leading joint goal scorer with 10 goals, same as former Bantu Rovers captain Bukhosi Sibanda, Epoupa, scorer of the contentious goal in the first meeting between the two teams which caused the abandonment of the match at Barbourfields in May played in Belarus before he joined the Glamour Boys.
“We have a number of friends just like any other institution, they are ones who recommended him to us. He played in Belarus before he came here, he now has 10 league goals, some good assists, he is more of a team player than an individual, we hope he will take it from where he left off,’’ said Mutasa, a former Tanganda, Dynamos, Green Buffaloes and Sporting Lions attacking midfielder.
While Mudzingwa and Muduhwa make a return for Highlanders, defender Tendai Ndlovu has been ruled out by an injury sustained against Chapungu.
The Highlanders defence, breached seven times in the four defeats has to be at its best to deal with the threat posed by Epoupa. With the first meeting of the season between the two giants of Zimbabwe having been abandoned in the first half, all stakeholders will be hoping for an incident-free blockbuster. In other matches lined up for this afternoon, Bantu Rovers clash with defending champions Caps United at Hartsfield while Triangle meet Hwange at Gibbo.
Today: Bantu Rovers v Caps United (Hartsfield), Triangle v Hwange (Gibbo), Dynamos v Highlanders (Rufaro)
Yesterday: Chicken Inn 1-2 Yadah, Black Rhinos 1-1 Bulawayo City, Tsholotsho 0-0 ZPC Kariba, Platinum 1-0 How Mine, Chapungu 1-1 Shabanie Mine
Friday: Ngezi Platinum 2 – 1 Harare City