IT’S A SUPER SUNDAY . . . Rufaro, the place to be

19 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
IT’S A SUPER SUNDAY  . . . Rufaro, the  place to be

The Sunday Mail

Langton Nyakwenda

THE Harare Derby fever has not only gripped the capital city.

It is also reverberating across Southern Africa, particularly in Blantyre, where former CAPS United star Joseph Kamwendo has been following local proceedings with keen interest.

The Malawian starred for Makepekepe in 2005, when the Green Machine won their fourth league title and second on the trot.

He was named the Premier Soccer League’s best player and remains the only foreigner to win the gong.

Kamwendo still follows Makepekepe closely as he wishes to one day reunite with his former teammates in other capacities.

He would have loved to be at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon, the setting for the 88th Harare Premiership Derby.

CAPS United host city rivals Dynamos at the ceremonial home of football in a fixture that Kamwendo described as “titanic”.

“CAPS United shaped my career; it was because of them that I earned a move to Europe, so you can imagine my allegiance to them,” Kamwendo told The Sunday Mail Sport from his base in Blantyre.

“I was the Soccer Star of the Year because of Makepekepe Bhora and I want to be part of CAPS United one day.

“I want the very best for this team and I am convinced they will beat DeMbare on Sunday (today). I follow the Green Machine a lot and they have been doing well of late.”

While Makepekepe go into the derby on the back of two straight wins, their rivals DeMbare are limping.

Dynamos are winless in their last three matches, where they have posted draws.

But form does not count in the Harare Derby.

A fierce contest is on the cards and tempers are bound to flare at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon.

That is why the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League’s best referee Brighton Chimene has been handed the task of handling the derby.

Chimene usually does well on such big occasions and a lot is expected of him when he blows the first whistle at 3pm.

Referees have hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks and coaches have been complaining a lot about poor officiating.

But in Chimene, the Harare Derby should be in safe hands.

CAPS United, who are the home team, have raised the entry fee for the cheapest ticket to US$5, as they anticipate a bumper crowd.

Big screens have been installed at the stadium, to enable fans to also watch the English Premier League (EPL) title-deciding matches, which will be beamed soon after the Harare Derby.

The EPL matches kick off at 5pm and the Harare City Council is saying there is no need for fans to rush back home as they can enjoy the same games at Rufaro Stadium.

But the main focus is on the Harare Derby, which has often served some sumptuous football dishes, regardless of which team is in form.

CAPS United have 16 points, four better than Dynamos, but DeMbare have enjoyed the better of their rivals in recent derbies.

DeMbare have not lost to Makepekepe in their last four meetings.

The Glamour Boys also have a better head-to-head record in the last 10 years.

The Harare giants have met 16 times in the league since 2014.

Dynamos have six wins, CAPS United have three, while seven contests have ended in a stalemate.

“We need to do everything to get a result and we will make sure we achieve that,” Dynamos coach Genesis Mangombe said. “We also want to make sure that we convert the chances that we are creating.”

DeMbare have scored eight goals in 11 matches, while Makepekepe have scored five more.  While the Glamour Boys are sweating over their blunt strike force, the Green Machine have been boosted by William Manondo’s resurgence.

The 2022 Golden Boot winner has now scored four times in the league.

Makepekepe have also found another match-winner in Junior Bunjira, the son of CAPS United legend Alois.

But their coach, Lloyd Chitembwe, is a bit cautious.

“We know the size of the task; it’s not an easy task, but games are played to be won,” he said.

The veteran gaffer thinks a lot has changed from the last time when Dynamos dominated CAPS United.

“Matches are never the same, like I always say,” he said. “You look at the team we have this time, it’s different from the one we had the last time.”

CAPS United lost back-to-back Premiership derbies against Dynamos last season.

They also failed to score in those two matches, as they lost 2-0 and 1-0.

But Makepekepe now have a refreshed squad. The arrival of Bunjira and Kingsley Mureremba has revived the side, while Godknows Murwira is also doing well in his new role at centre-back.

On the other hand, Dynamos have been boosted by the return of key player Tanaka Shandirwa, with Donald Mudadi ready to face Makepekepe, but not for skipper Frank Makarati, who is still out with an injury.

The Harare Derby returns to Rufaro Stadium for the first time in five years.

The last Harare Derby to be staged at the venue ended 1-1 on July 21, 2019.

A bumper crowd turned up at Rufaro and Dynamos, who were the home team, had to delay kick-off by 15 minutes to allow fans into the stadium.

A number of celebrities are relishing the opportunity of watching the latest edition of the derby.  Popular Zimdancehall chanter Freeman, real name Emegy Chizanga, has confirmed his attendance.

He will watch the derby before rushing to Old Hararians, where he is set to perform at the Farm to Market and Arts Fest gig that will be graced by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.

“I can’t wait for this big match,” Freeman said. “But I am sure my team CAPS United will win this one.”

Over the years, the Harare Derby has paraded star players. A lot of stars have been born out of these derbies.

Notable star players from CAPS United who featured in this derby included Stanley Ndunduma, Joel Shambo, Stanford “Stix” Mtizwa, Joe Mugabe, Stewart Murisa, Lloyd Chitembwe, Alois Bunjira, Energy Murambadoro, Cephas Chimedza, Joseph Kamwendo, Oscar Machapa, Nyasha Mushekwi and Hardlife Zvirekwi.

On the other hand, the likes of George Shaya, Moses Chunga, Memory Mucherahowa, Gift “Ghetto” Mpariwa, Francis Shonhayi, Peter Fanwell, Tauya Murewa, Kaitano Tembo, Vitalis Takawira, Samson Choruwa, Denver Mukamba and Roderick Mutuma took part in this derby.

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