Nation bug-eyed with anticipation


HARARE – Here we have it – the Battle of Zimbabwe. Once again, the two titans of Zimbabwean football clash on Sunday in what some have billed, though prematurely so in the words of Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu, as the Castle Premiership title decider.

Zimbabwe is a place of great beauty and diversity, but that richness we are so proud of as a nation is also responsible for the politico-geographical differences between the country’s two biggest cities, variances which have brought about a footballing rivalry with few equals in Africa.

Dynamos and Highlanders represent the pinnacle of Zimbabwean football both in terms of success and passion.

I will not dwell much on the reasons for the rivalry, those who have sat in the Vietnam or Soweto stands at Rufaro and Barbourfields are quite familiar with it, but suffice it to say that it stirs the emotions of the players and fans alike.

Dynamos have had an edge over their rivals in the last seven years, with coaches David Mandigora and Calisto Pasuwa (twice) bringing glory to the Harare giants three times in those seven years while days have been gloomy for their rivals.

The last seven years have been very hard on the Bulawayo giants. Not only did they have to endure the raucous cheers from the DeMbare camp, but they experienced humbling defeats, home and away, at the hands of their hated rivals during this period.

The lean spell prompted several changes in the Highlanders coaching structures over the years, with Zambian Kelvin Kaindu being roped in as head coach last season.

In his first season in charge, Kaindu took Highlanders to the brink of their first title in seven years, agonisingly losing the championship to Dynamos on mere goal difference.

This season, Kaindu’s men are on the verge of ending that painful barren spell. With five games to go in the race, Highlanders lead Dynamos with two points, with a win on Sunday taking them five points clear at the top.

It surely means that Sunday’s clash is something to savour!

Despite their 4-0 thumping of Tripple B at the weekend, Dynamos have seen a terrible dip in form that has alarmed their fans.  That win was their first in four games. To make matters worse, they were knocked out of the Mbada Diamonds Cup, a competition they have won with complete and ruthless domination in its first two years of existence.

Their preparation to the big game on Sunday couldn’t have been worse.

They say no King rules forever, and Dynamos’ recent form is a sign that the record Zimbabwean champions may have been demystified. This couldn’t have been better news for Bosso.

Desperate to capture their first league title since 2006, here is a wonderful opportunity for Highlanders to extend their lead over DeMbare to five points, a distance that even diehard Dynamos fans admit would give their rivals a psychological shot-in-the-arm.

But we all know you can rule out Dynamos at your own peril.

This is a big match you simply can’t miss!

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