Struggling Castle Lager Premier Soccer League defending champions Dynamos face a stern test when they meet Monomotapa at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon.
REPORT BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
Although still unbeaten, Dynamos have endured a horrible start to the season, drawing six times and managing only one win.
Monoz are three rungs above 10th-placed Dynamos who are seven points behind leaders FC Platinum.
On the backdrop of such a poor start to the season, today’s match would have a huge bearing on coach Kalisto Pasuwa’s job with a draw likely to ring a death knell on his reign.
Pasuwa is worried about the injuries and suspensions that have hit his squad and cite them as the major contributor to inconsistency on the field of play.
Left-back Augustine Mbara is yet to recover from a hamstring injury he sustained last week while on duty with the national team in Zambia.
Stephen Alimenda, who was instrumental against FC Platinum on Wednesday, is out with a thigh strain while big striker Francisco Zekumbawire is still nursing a hip injury.
With another striker Patrick Khumbula suspended, Pasuwa is looking at Washington Pakamisa to carry on with his newly found form.
Pasuwa’s goalkeeping options have been narrowed as Artwell Mukandi has been hit by a mysterious condition that has affected his legs, rendering him unable to run. He sat out at Friday’s training session.
On-loan winger Russel Madamombe has been shut out by a clause in his loan deal that forbids him from playing against his club Monomotapa.
“Having all these players out means we have to shift plans. It is a big challenge,” said Pasuwa.
“One day you build a team and tomorrow you are missing two or three players and have to build again. That has been our biggest letdown this season. We are eager to win but such factors are not doing us any good.”
In the other camp, Monomotapa are missing left-back Hillary Mugoniwa who injured his knee in last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Shabanie Mine.
Captain Kuda Musharu, Obey Mwerahari, Ishmael Lawe, Last Sithole, Zvikomborero Bizeki and goalkeeper Tapiwa Zvaita were yet to pass late fitness tests last night.
Monoz coach Biggie Zuze’s plans could plunge Dynamos into further chaos as he wants nothing but a win.
“I know Dynamos are struggling but can rise anytime. They are just going through a bad patch. However, that is not our concern because we want to win this game and we are working hard to attain that. I pray my boys would not melt on that big stage,” Zuze said.
At Barbourfields Stadium, second-placed Highlanders would be looking at keeping track of FC Platinum when they host Buffaloes.
Being one place and as many points above Buffaloes, Highlanders could be facing a litmus test which could be a blow to their title ambitions.
The Bulawayo giants’ assistant coach Bekhithemba Ndlovu is aware of the threat posed by Rhinos.
“They are a good side and I know they are scoring a lot of goals. They are no pushovers,” said Ndlovu.
“But we are always prepared for any challenge. We are also creating and scoring chances which is a plus on our side.”
Mthulisi Maphosa was on Friday complaining of some pain on his shin while defensive linkman Hilary Madzivanyika was yet to past a fitness test last night.
Buffaloes go into this match smart from the 4-1 win over fellow soldiers Black Rhinos.