HARARE – After dominating the Mbada Diamonds Cup for the first two years since its inception, Dynamos’ reign finally came to an end at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday at the hands of How Mine.
The Harare giants had virtually rebranded the country’s richest knockout competition as it was now known as the ‘DeMbada Cup’.
How Mine, who are playing in the top flight for the first time this season, ended DeMbare strangled hold on the competition with a deserved 1-0 quarterfinal courtesy of Thembani Masuku’s first half strike.
Although the Bulawayo side are newcomers in the Premiership their squad is laden with a vast array of experienced top flight campaigners.
Take for example the How Mine entire backline which is led by the well-travelled goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura, who is a veteran of Zimbabwe’s first appearance at the African Nations Cup back in 2004.
How Mine coach Philani ‘Beefy’ Ncube opted to play with three centre backs namely, Nyasha Mukumbi, Gilbert Banda and the ageless Hebert Dick.
It was in midfield where the Bulawayo side really grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck as Masuku and Menard Mupera bullied the Dynamos midfield.
The usually reliable Tawanda Muparati and Thomas Magorimbo were reduced to spectators as they played second fiddle to the How Mine pair in the centre of the park.
The 32-year-old Mupera in particular was the outstanding player in that How Mine double pivot as he operated from a much deeper position than Masuku.
The former Black Rhinos, Highlanders and FC Platinum midfielder’s play is not all about grit and power.
But he combines that tenacity with some incisive through balls from his own half where he operates more like a deep-lying playmaker.
It was clear from Ncube’s starting XI that the Bulawayo side had come to Harare with a game plan to defend deep while try to catch DeMbare on the break.
This is a tactic that clear suits Mupera’s game as he is that kind of player that likes to detect the tempo of the game from a deeper position.
Essentially, Dynamos were always going to enjoy more of the possession and it was obvious that How Mine were not going to get into advance that much.
Mupera’s steady, reliable presence in the centre of the pitch meant that the gold miners always had an extra man to shore up their defence when DeMbare were in attack.
Throughout the 90 minutes, How Mine goalie Ephraim Mazarura was rarely tested as that bank of white defenders protected his goal.
The only time Dynamos had a clear sight of goal was deep in the second half when substitute Farai Mupasiri had his shot saved by Mazarura at close range.
Even if Mupasiri had found the back of the net it would not have counted since the far side assistant referee had his flag up for offside when the Dynamos forward received the ball.
For the visitors’ goal it was Mupera once again, who engineered the chance from a set piece that caught out the Dynamos defence.
The gold miners were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and the Dynamos players anticipated that Mupera would swing in the ball looking for the head of Dick or Banda.
Instead, Mupera teed up an onrushing Masuku, whose low shot found the bottom corner of the net despite the attempts to bloke it by Partson Jaure and his goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi.
Since taking the lead, How Mine were never really threatened by the home side and eventually held on for the win.
It was truly an outstanding team performance from the Bulawayo side which was epitomised by the how Mupera covered every piece of grass on the pitch.