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Pride at stake in Big Harare derby

FORTY-ONE years on, yet the big Harare derby pitting Dynamos and CAPS United has not aged one bit. The euphoria and the animosity remain the same while the stakes always skyrocket.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

When these two meet it’s never about the points.

DeMbare are in dire straits, second from bottom on the log standings, but if they manage to beat their arch-enemy at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon, then there is absolutely no crisis in their camp.

On the other hand, Makepekepe have not had an enviable start to the season either, but all is well as long as they are placed above Dynamos let alone beating them today.

“You look at me and Biggie Zuze, we have played this derby before and we have been telling the players how important it is to win the bragging rights of Harare. It (the derby) can be very hostile and ill-tempered, and it’s a match where both teams will want to come out victorious at all cost,” under-fire Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa told Standardsport.

The Dynamos training sessions last week were characterised by lengthy team talks with the coaches trying to psyche up their players.

Mutasa has lost three of the six matches played so far, but has managed to cling on to his job. A defeat to CAPS United could, however, finally cost him his job.

For his CAPS United counterpart Lloyd Chitembwe, the big Harare derby is where reputations are made or broken.

“Being someone who has participated in the derby at some point as a player, your reputation is at stake in this kind of match and you would want to do whatever it takes to protect that reputation. There is a legacy for the club to be protected. I am sure as a team we are ready, we are prepared. We know our responsibility and we are certain of how to execute it and it’s very important to make sure we do it with efficiency,” Chitembwe said about the big tie.

Last season, the bragging rights were shared equally between the two antagonists with Dynamos winning the first meeting 2-0 and the Green Machine claiming the return leg.

Estranged Cameroonian striker Christian Epoupa was the hero in the Dynamos win last season and in his absence DeMbare will be desperate for a new superstar.

And Mutasa sees that star in a player most Dynamos fans love to hate: Kudakwashe Kumwala.

The former Harare City forward was brought in as a stand-in for Epoupa and despite showing flashes of brilliance here and there, it’s not enough for the Dynamos faithful.

“It’s a pity that we did not have Kuda during the pre-season, hence he is coming in fits and starts. He is gaining confidence gradually and we are happy. His contribution so far has been immense and his scoring last week boosted his confidence ahead of the derby,” Mutasa said.

Mutasa hinted that he is fighting the temptation to thrust in the youngsters who beat CAPS United in the ZNA Charities Shield in February.

“It’s likely going to be a mixture of youth and experience. Obviously, we would need lots of energy in that match, but here and there you would need the experience,” he said.

Interestingly for Chitembwe, roping in Denver Mukamba was a master stroke of a signing as the controversial midfielder continues to outshine himself.

And contrary to reports that the loan agreement between the clubs stipulates that the player will not feature in the derby, Mukamba was named in the Green Machine team to do battle today.

“As far as I am concerned, Denver is a CAPS United player and he really wants to compete and play in these kinds of matches. If he does well in training he stands a very good chance of participating on Sunday,” Chitembwe said.

Chitembwe had a former Dynamos son, Dominic Chungwa, scoring the solitary goal that decided the last meeting and will be hoping Mukamba follows suit today.

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