The ‘other’ Harare derby rolls around

It is not Dynamos versus Caps United, but it is a Harare derby all the same.

And it is one that means a lot for both Caps United and Harare City when the two clash at the National Sports Stadium at 3pm today.

Neither side goes into this tie claiming any bragging rights. In seven clashes each has won one, while five encounters have ended in a stalemate. This season’s reverse fixture ended goalless at Rufaro.

The arrival of six new faces at Caps United has given coach Mark Mathe a fillip in just his fourth match in charge, knowing that victory will go a long way in winning the hearts of doubting Makepekepe fans.

Mathe is yet to lose a match, though, let alone concede a goal, in the three games he has overseen since the departure of British coach Mark Harrison last month.

That has still not stopped people questioning his pedigree.

Influential former skipper Method “Yellow” Mwanjali and prodigal son Oscar “Mahindra” Machapa are back at Makepekepe, while rising Warriors defender Justice Jangano has also gone green.

Zambian left-back Michael Mwinyu and an attacking linkman from Equatorial Guinea, Pedro Antonio Fungo, were also unveiled last Thursday as was former Harare City dribbling wizard Phineas Bamusi who crossed the divide.

While many at the Green Machine are talking of mounting a title challenge, Mathe is being coy about that prospect.

“We have to be realistic. With the way we started this season and where we are coming from as a club, I wouldn’t want to think we can clinch the title.

“We lost a number of points at the beginning when things were not really good, but now we have found our way and I would like to believe a top four finish is realistic.

“We might not be the richest club in the league today, but there is now sanity at Caps and everyone is pulling in the same direction. The support from the board is evident and what is left is for us to prove on the field of play,” he said.

Caps United could be without three players who featured in the 0-0 draw at Rufaro in the reverse fixture.

Goalkeeper Chris Mverechena, central defender Carlton Muzambwa and attacking linkman Moses Muchenje are injured and have to pass late fitness tests.

Today’s encounter comes with added pressure for Harare City gaffer Taurai Mangwiro.

Mangwiro was the victim of taunts from City fans after his charges were held to a 2-2 draw by relegation-threatened Flame Lily two weeks ago.

City have only won five times in 16 matches and are winless in their last three outings.

Although club bosses back him, Mangwiro knows football is a results-based business and there is little empathy for stuttering coaches.

His assistant Mike Madzivanyika is unfazed and insists his boys are up to the challenge.

“Whatever they are doing at Caps doesn’t scare us, it is their strategy. We are Harare City, we have our own targets and our own strategy,” he said.

2014 Soccer Star of the Year finalist Tendai Samanja is yet to stamp his authority at Harare City, and this could be a defining moment.

“It is serious business now. Personally, I feel I haven’t done enough to prove my worth at City and I need to lift my game. I want to do it for my coach,” declared the former Caps United man.

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