Harare giants Dynamos and CAPS United take their fierce rivalry to Bulawayo when they clash in the last four of the mega-rich Mbada Diamonds Cup at Barbourfields this afternoon.
REPORT BY BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The magnitude of the grudge tie has been flavoured by the historic fact that it is the first time the old foes tussle each other in Bulawayo, a venue both teams have always visited eager to beat Highlanders or Zimbabwe Saints in the past.
CAPS would be seeking revenge over Dynamos who kicked them out of the first round of the same tournament last season with an agonising 1-0 score line.
While defending champions DeMbare are still revelling in last season’s league and Cup double, United would be in search of their first silverware since November 2008 when they thumped Eastern Lions 3-0 to lift the CBZ FA Cup.
It was a glorious year for CAPS who had also decorated their trophy cabinet with the BancABC Sup8r Trophy which they had bagged two months earlier, after dispatching the now defunct Lengthens 2-1 in the final.
However, in recent years, Dynamos have earned themselves the tag “Derby Kings” as they are unbeaten in seven straight duels. United’s last triumph came on April 13 2009.
With the Green Machine already out of contention for the league title, victory over DeMbare would position them well to reclaim their old “Cup Kings” status.
But CAPS’ mission could be a Herculean task against a mean DeMbare who are fighting to retain a league and Cup double and have already asserted their dominance over United.
CAPS United have endured a horrible season where they are outside the top-eight in the league race.
Barbourfields could be a special place for Dynamos fans who would want their team to evoke memories of November 6 last year when a Cuthbert Malajila first-half strike helped DeMbare edge FC Platinum at the similar stage of the same competition, en route to lifting the Cup.
Dynamos assistant coach Tonderayi Ndiraya is however, refusing to read much into history or wear the favourites tag.
“It is going to be a difficult match. This is a Cup game where once you falter you are out,” said Ndiraya.
“The fact that we have beaten CAPS twice this season will inspire them to beat us. But we want to continue with our dominance and ultimately retain the trophy. We are playing at a neutral venue but we command much support wherever we go. We also hope memories of last year’s match against FC Platinum will remind the boys of what is at stake here,” said Ndiraya.
But for CAPS United coach Mkupali Masuku, a Highlanders son, it would be making an emotional return to his former home Barbourfields where he is likely to enjoy support from Bosso fans who would be rooting for DeMbare’s demise.
Makepekepe assistant coach Brenna Msiska said getting the backing of Bosso fans was an advantage to them as they seek to recoup the Cup Kings status.
“The match will be tough of course but that is football. We are trying to regain our former standing as Cup Kings. There is no other opportunity to do that. It will be a bonus for us to enjoy the support of Highlanders fans as it will help the players feel at home,” said Msiska.
CAPS’ pedigree has already been tested in this knockout tournament, having claimed the scalp of Motor Action and Buffaloes to reach semis, while Dynamos have seen off little Quelaton and struggling Gunners to book a date with CAPS.
Defensive linkmen Devon Chafa and Milton Makopa are still out with injuries for Dynamos while Zambian striker Derrick Kabwe is also injured.
CAPS have declared a clean bill of health in their dressing room and mid-season signing Hardlife Zvirekwi is expected to continue with his scintillating form.