The Sunday Mail
BOTH their Premier Soccer League encounters this season ended in goalless draws.
They could not be separated in 180 minutes of league action at both Mandava and the National Sports Stadium, but today there has to be a winner.
So close have been the duels between Dynamos and FC Platinum that their last three league matches have all ended goalless.
Both sides have emerged as frontrunners in the race for the league championship crown, although champions and log leaders FC Platinum have the destiny of the title in their hands.
But there is a huge belief in the Dynamos camp that they could do a smash-and-grab job on the championship.
DeMbare are also seeking to end their Chibuku Super Cup barren spell.
But before the Glamour Boys can think of laying their hands on the elusive Chibuku Super Cup, they have to take care of what Tonderai Ndiraya has described as a huge hurdle.
Dynamos play FC Platinum in a blockbuster Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final match at the National Sports Stadium in a potentially explosive clash that has also been dubbed “the final before the final”.
Of course, resurgent Highlanders play Bulawayo Chiefs in an interesting derby at Barbourfields, while Black Rhinos host Chicken Inn at Vengere Stadium in the other last-eight clashes.
But focus will definitely be on the epic duel at the National Sports Stadium.
Chibuku Super Cup holders FC Platinum arrive in the capital on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run in the league.
They invade Harare possessing a deadly weapon in the form of Walter Musona, whose career has been revived in Zvishavane after a forgettable stint in the South African top-flight.
Musona returned to FC Platinum in January and has scored seven goals in the league for the miners.
But FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is aware today’s clash against Dynamos is a cup game, and insists “you never know with cup games”. “It’s a very important match for us as a club. It’s a quarter-final and with cup games you never know, but what’s important for us is to go there with a positive mind,” Mapeza told The Sunday Mail Sport.
“We need to carry the same mentality we had when we played our first game of the Chibuku Super Cup against Tenax.
“But, this one against Dynamos is massive.”
FC Platinum have won the Chibuku Super Cup in 2014 and 2021, and they are looking for a record third title.
They knocked Dynamos out of the 2021 Chibuku Super Cup at the semi-final stage at the National Sports Stadium, with Innocent Mucheneka firing in a long-range strike that made the difference.
Luckily for DeMbare, Mucheneka, who has always troubled them, is out of today’s clash as he is still nursing an injury.
Nigel Makumbe is also still out.
FC Platinum beat Tenax 2-0 in the first round, with Juan Mutudza and Panashe Mutimbanyoka getting the goals for Mapeza’s men.
Musona was not on target but remains a big threat.
The 26-year-old former Polokwane and Sekhukhune United forward has always lived in the shadows of his more illustrious brother and former Warriors captain Knowledge Musona.
But he is showing signs that he could blossom in the not-too-distant future.
“Walter (Musona) has been doing well, but we cannot talk of one individual.
“I am happy he is doing well; what he just needs is to stay focused,” Mapeza said of his key forward.
FC Platinum may have undertaken a revolution to infuse a lot of young players but they are also not short on experience, especially in defence.
They can bank on the ageless Gift Bello and Wallace Magalane, who has risen to become a reliable goalkeeper.
On their part, DeMbare go into this encounter carrying a seven-match unbeaten run in the league, but Ndiraya knows FC Platinum are a different proposition.
In booking their quarter-final berth, Dynamos edged WhaWha 1-0 in the first round, courtesy of a Trevor Mavhunga goal.
They now have to clear “a huge hurdle” if they are to keep alive their dreams of a possible league and cup double.
The Harare giants are yet to win the Chibuku Super Cup since its return in 2014.
The closest they came was in 2015 when they lost 2-1 to Harare City in the final.
Ndiraya was in charge of Dynamos then before he moved to Ngezi Platinum Stars, which he helped win the cup in 2016.
The youthful gaffer thinks Dynamos have a big chance of winning the cup if they get to the final.
He has been boosted by the return of intelligent left-back Brendon Mpofu.
Ndiraya also has Ralph Kawondera, a player who has won the cup before with Triangle.
In Ghanaian Emmanuel Paga, DeMbare also have another potential match winner.
“We have two difficult hurdles ahead of us before we reach the final. So, we want to push to get to the final and once we get there, chances of winning the cup are high,” said Ndiraya.
“But, before that, we have a huge hurdle that we have to deal with on Sunday, and that is FC Platinum.
“I do understand that we have played goalless draws in the last two matches in the league and that is what is making this match exciting, especially for us, because at the end of the day, there has to be a winner, and hopefully it’s going to be us.”
Highlanders v Bulawayo Chiefs (Babourfields), Black Rhinos v Chicken Inn (Vengere), Dynamos v FC Platinum (National Sports Stadium).