HARARE – Dynamos skipper Tawanda Muparati believes the Glamour Boys have learnt hard lessons after suffering the double heartbreak of failing to reach the mini-league stages of both the African Champions League and the Confederation Cup last year.
The Harare giants have shifted their attention to the Champions League where they are scheduled to get their campaign off the ground against Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) in a preliminary round tie at Rufaro this Sunday.
DeMbare, who are the country’s sole representatives in continental inter-club competitions, are still in a buoyant mood following their 2-1 victory over Highlanders in Bulawayo in the first leg of the Bob 89 Super Cup.
Dynamos might have won back-to-back league and cup doubles in the last two years, but they have been faring dismally in African competitions as they have struggled to reach the lofty standards they set in 1998 when they reached the Champions League final.
Last year they were booted out of the competition by Tunisian giants Esperance on a humiliating 7-1 aggregate scoreline, their heaviest defeat in the history of the tournament.
But Muparati, who was on target at the weekend against Bosso, feels Dynamos will get it right this time around starting with the clash against LCS.
“We have learnt our lessons from the previous two editions when we were knocked out and we need to work hard if we are to make it to the group stages of the tournament this year,” Muparati told Daily News yesterday.
“In Africa it is important to maximise on home advantage and score as many goals but avoid conceding away goals as well. There are no easy games in Africa and we need to adjust to be at par with other top teams.”
The Glamour Boys’ preparations were hampered after the departure of strikers Simba Sithole and Rodreck Mutuma to South African clubs — Supersport United and Bloemfontein Celtic respectively — and also failure to secure some of their registered players for this year’s campaign.
DeMbare played Mamelodi Sundowns earlier this month and put a brave performance holding the rich super Diski side, who beat Highlanders 2-0 before thumping CAPS United 4-1during their tour of Zimbabwe, to a goalless draw.
And after the win over Highlanders at the weekend, Muparati believes the matches have awarded the Glamour Boys with a good challenge before their clash with LCS.
“We played Sundowns in a friendly and the match helped us in assessing the team’s preparedness.
“Also, the win against Highlanders was more like a morale booster to the team as we take aim at LCS,” he said.
“Highlanders is a strong side and every time we meet our matches are very competitive. It was a tough match and they gave us a real challenge we needed ahead of our Champions League opener. We need to be on high alert and avoid the same mistakes we made in the previous matches when we were knocked out of the tournament.”
In 1998 Callisto Pasuwa, then a player, was a key member of Sunday Chidzambwa’s team that reached the final before losing 4-2 on aggregate to ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast.
The Glamour Boys also reached the semi-finals in 2008 under the guidance of David Mandigora while their last appearance in the Champions League mini-league was in 2010 under Elvis Chiweshe.
But in the last two years, Dynamos have struggled to scale the same heights with Lloyd Mutasa and then Pasuwa who failed to steer them beyond the second round.
Dynamos’ poor showing has also cost the Harare giants their seeding in the competition in which they were once rated the sixth best club on the continent.
The Glamour Boys were dealt a blow when former Hwange centre back Aaron Katebe opted for Zvishavane-based money bags FC Platinum while Martin Vengesayi refused to extend his contract — some of the players Pasuwa had registered in the Champions league.
Midfield hardman Milton Makopa is struggling with a mysterious condition that has sidelined him since mid-season last year.
The record 19-time Zimbabwean champions are also sweating for the availability of new boy Russell Madamombe who has not been training for the past three weeks through injury. – Godknows Matarutse