By Munyaradzi Madzokere
It’s been 19 months since the last instalment of one of the most anticipated fixtures in local football, the big Harare derby.
And for the umpteenth time the capital is divided into two, the blue half and the green half as Dynamos and CAPS United clash in the Chibuku Super Cup at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
The last time out, CAPS United claimed the bragging rights courtesy of a Newman Sianchali 40th-minute strike in November 2019.
But Sianchali has since joined the Glamour Boys, leaving Makepekepe in search for a new derby hero.
The Chibuku Cup has eluded the two football giants since it was reintroduced in 2014, but they are currently unbeaten in the new format so far.
However, this derby is strange in that it will be played on an empty stadium due to the Covid-19 protocols to curb the spread of the pandemic that has already stolen a whole season of local football.
Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya knows that the fans will rally behind the team despite their absence from the National Sports Stadium.
“This situation is out of our control.
“There is nothing we can do about it, but we know that when we play our fans will always be behind their team,” Ndiraya told Standardsport.
“They have been following our progress with keen interest and this game will not be any different.
“Our guys are kind of getting used to playing in empty stadiums, so we hope that they will do that tomorrow and get a result.”
A warrior of many Harare derbies as a player and now as coach, Ndiraya feels he has had little to do to motivate the players who are already pumped up.
“This is a massive match, which doesn’t need any coach to motivate the players,” he said.
“The players motivated themselves and the excitement is just unbelievable particularly of those, who have never been involved in the derby before.”
DeMbare top the Harare group with seven points after wins against Yadah FC and ZPC Kariba midweek and will be looking to maintain their position and unbeaten run.
The team kicked off the competition with a drab draw against Herentals.
And with King Nadolo fit again, Ndiraya has a delightful headache of picking the matchday squad from his wealth of depth.
“The depth has brought a lot of competition not just the depth with experienced players, but young players who have challenged senior players for slots in the team,” he said.
“We are spoilt for choice in terms of selection and it is a positive headache.
“CAPS United are undefeated in the Chibuku Cup, so are we. These are two teams that have a good record in the competition so far.
“We are looking forward to breaking that record for CAPS and also maintaining our unbeaten start.”
Ndiraya said Dynamos haven’t conceded in four matches now, including the Independence Trophy and they are hoping that they build on that foundation.
Dynamos’ youthful stars such as Bill Antonio, Luke Musikiri and Tanaka Chidhobha have impressed so far in the competition, while new boy Shadreck Nyahwa has hit the ground running.
CAPS United have taken a bit longer to pick form, only eking out their first win midweek against Herentals.
But this kind of match has been known for its penchant to disregard the form book.
And Dodo will be looking for his consecutive win in derbies against Dynamos.
After enduring a frustrating start to the new campaign Dodo is happy to go into the derby on the back of a win.
“As a team and personally as the coach, I think the feeling is that we wanted such a positive result to make sure that we get into the winning groove,” the CAPS United coach told reporters after the midweek win.
And for the fans it will be a strange derby where they can support their teams from anywhere else, but the stadium.
“It’s painful not to watch our beloved teams play physically in the stadium, but in truth we are in the derby mood already. We will make sure our players feel our support through social media platforms,” Masango Ruzani, a staunch CAPS United supporter said.
“Remember, we have got teams we support in England, Spain and Germany, but we haven’t been watching them live in their stadia but the support we give them from this far.”
Broadcasting rights for the Chibuku Cup were given to four television stations, including Heart and Soul TV.
And fans have had to use social media to support their teams.
“We are obviously disappointed, but our health is important and as such, we respect the decision by the authorities to bar us from attending matches,” said Dynamos supporter James Chiwaro.
“We are visiting our club’s official social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to urge the boys to win the match.
“I am also visiting fan pages and calling players and officials I know on personal terms to reassure them of our support.”