Dynamos have been a menace to Highlanders since 2006, the year they last won the league title, while CAPS United have been struggling against their city rivals for the past five years.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
Having gone for a combined 26 matches without being beaten by either team, DeMbare seems invincible. The bullying has rendered their meetings predictable.
Despite giving it their all, Highlanders and CAPS always finish at the ruthless end of the 21-time champions of Zimbabwean football.
Even on a day Dynamos are drab and dominated, they somehow grind a routine result in smash and grab fashion.
Football commentator Steve Vick- ers describes Dynamos’ supremacy as “simply remarkable.”
“You just feel that the run will come to an end each time that they face those two teams, but somehow Dynamos manage to win those big games,” said Vickers.
“I wouldn’t say that it is bad for football as such, except for the frustration that CAPS and Highlanders fans have to endure. It is a fascinating dominance that we would not find in most leagues around the world. Barcelona and Real Madrid will have their good days and bad days against each other, as do the top teams in England, but the way that Dynamos seem to get it right each time in those big games is simply remarkable,” he said.
Highlanders’ last triumph over Dynamos was in the less-celebrated 2011 Independence Trophy where they stuttered to the penalty lottery and stole victory after a regulation time draw.
A number of coaches have come and gone at Highlanders, but failed to beat DeMbare in the league. Solution was once sought from club legend Madinda Ndlovu but with no luck.
Bosso even went thousands of miles to North Africa, precisely Egypt, and brought Mohamed Fathi. He too failed. Youthful gaffer Mkhupali Masuku also had a shot at it but missed the target.
Even current coach Kelvin Kaindu has found himself stranded in this seemingly unsolvable jigsaw puzzle. Kaindu has faced DeMbare six times in league matches since taking over from Masuku in 2012, losing thrice and drawing as many times.
Last season only, Bosso lost four times to Dynamos, including a 6-1 aggregate trouncing in the Bob89 Super Cup final.
Handing Dynamos the Bob Super Cup in the last two editions as well as the Independence Trophy last year has been hard for Bosso to stomach.
Bosso have finished the past two terms as bridesmaids to Dynamos who have won the league title during that period. What is painful for Bosso fans is that in those runners-up finishes, they have ended both seasons tied on points but Dynamos ended up on top through a superior goal difference.
The frustration has instigated violent behaviour from fans who have made Barbourfields a war zone in Dynamos’ last three visits, with the latest confrontation claiming the life of a Bosso fan.
Such is the heartache at Highlanders that Dynamos’ hegemony was on the agenda of a recent Highlanders extraordinary general meeting where it was seriously discussed as club members expressed great concern.
Highlanders chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede has before served as the club’s chairman and is equally worried by Dynamos’ supremacy.
“It is a concern [Dynamos dominance],” said Gumede. “There is always a team to beat everywhere. When I was growing up there was Liverpool to beat in England and during the 1970s and 80s Zimbabwe Saints to beat for Highlanders. Dynamos are now a new phenomenon to us.
“What bothers us is that the team [Highlanders] is playing very well but just fails to score. But I see a bright future.”
Blame has been partly apportioned on signings who are just there to earn a buck and leave without minding about the position at which they leave the club. Some suggestions at the extraordinary meeting were to increase promotion of juniors into the first team as they understand the club’s culture more. Some members feel it is Kaindu who is to blame, which has put his job at risk especially after back-to-back defeats this season.
CAPS United coach Taurai Mangwiro too has been a victim of the Dynamos juggernaut. It has been five years now since CAPS beat Dynamos in a league match.
Desperately seeking solutions, CAPS went to Blantyre and dragged Harare Flames international George Nyirenda, believing a Malawian touch would reincarnate the 2005 air brought by Joseph Kamwendo in that trailblazing outfit.
But Nyirenda immediately felt DeMbare’s ruthlessness in his first three consecutive clashes with Dynamos recently. Even his compatriots Gerald Phiri and Ishmael Thindwa arrived to the reality of Dynamos’ relentless dominance.
Midfield hardman Steven Alimenda failed to reign in marauding DeMbare at both Bosso and CAPS, before joining DeMbare, giving meaning to the saying, “if you can’t beat them, join them.”
Former CAPS United attacker Alois Bunjira feels Dynamos are winning it on a psychological edge.
“It has more to do with psychology,” said Bunjira. “Right now you have CAPS players going into the match with that negative mentality of conceding defeat even before kickoff. When Dynamos score, that is the end of it. Look at the recent match, CAPS were leading 1-0 but when Dynamos equalised, they crumbled and went on to lose.”
So, how can the Dynamos mean machine be stopped?
“There is now need to have players with that lion heart. CAPS play better than Dynamos but they still lose. During our time it was not allowed to lose to Dynamos. What made us beat them were their irritating supporters. We hated them. That Dynamos blue flag inspired us to win than the CAPS green flag,” Bunjira said.
“We drew joy from seeing them cry after they would have intimidated us in Harare streets. I remember in 1997 on the eve of the BP Cup final replay.
“We were camped at Ambassador Hotel and we decided to go into town to buy queen cakes. On our way back to the hotel, some colleagues who were behind us came running trying to escape from pursuing and abusive Dynamos supporters. That night we just told ourselves that we had to win the Cup at all costs and we did just that.”
It is understandable seeing the way CAPS United celebrated in May like they had won the World Cup when they edged Dynamos 1-0 in the semifinals of the less glamorous ZNA Charity Shield.
Fans broke into song and dance as they marched from the National Sports Stadium to the central business district.
Dynamos can prefer to lose against Chapungu, Monomotapa, Harare City, How Mine, Hwange and twice to Buffaloes like they have done in the past two seasons, but have been unyielding against Bosso or Makepekepe.
For now, CAPS and Highlanders are still scratching their heads, trying to find working formulas to overcome Dynamos.