The Sunday Mail
IT’S a sorry sight, a giant who used to bring the whole country to a standstill coughing and limping back onto the scene with very few people taking notice or caring.
Those who witnessed past heroics hope this is the day he will redeem himself and live up to the hype as well as the yesteryear stories he will tell his kids and grandchildren.
The younger generation looks at the giant’s old and tattered robes, written Battle of Zimbabwe, and accuse their elders of going down the hyperbole lane each time they talk of previous match ups.
A Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash dubbed the Battle of Zimbabwe must bring the country to a standstill, everything and everyone should stop and bear witness to heavyweight football battle, right?
However, this world has no room for sympathy, if it’s not on it’s just not on and the people will show their approval or disapproval on social media.
In years gone by, a Highlanders versus Dynamos clash was a showstopper, a blockbuster that was talked about weeks before match day and years after the final whistle.
Sadly this once colossal clash has degenerated into a clash of two old clubs, a battle of football attrition steeped more in history than quality.
As Dynamos make the trip to Barbourfields, this afternoon’s clash is not trending, there are bigger stories being liked and attracting comments on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
President Mnangagwa’s hole in one — to borrow a golf term — of appointing Kirsty Coventry into Cabinet is what people are liking, tweeting and retweeting.
The Warriors’ visit to Congo Brazzaville for an Africa Cup of Nations clash has also overshadowed this once gigantic clash. Even the PSL chairmanship elections, set for the capital this morning, have their shadow towering over a clash that may see Kingstone Nkhatha making his DeMbare debut.
But maybe, just maybe, this must be the soundtrack to this match up, a low key build up that gives its latest cast the room to express themselves.
The pressure, the history of this clash and the iconic club badges, have in recent times appeared to saddle both sets of players.
On a stage where players like Melusi Nkiwane, Claudius Zviripayi, Mercedes “Rambo” Sibanda and Tauya Murehwa used to look like football oracles, the latter day players are looking like fraudsters trying to steal a living as footballers. However, it does not look all gloomy. The presence of such players as Dynamos goalkeeper Simbarashe Chinani and Highlanders right back McClive Phiri gives the neutrals hope of a good game. Both Chinani and Phiri epitomize the state that both the Battle of Zimbabwe protagonists are in — a state of hope. Deemed not good enough by Yadah Stars, the 22-year-old Chinani has risen to become the DeMbare number one and while he needs to work on his footwork, he looks like a decent goalie, the best Dynamos have had since Tatenda Mkuruva.
The way Chinani saved Godknows Murwira’s explosive free kick when Ngezi Platinum edged Dynamos 1-0 on July 22 this year at Rufaro oozed of class and served as confirmation that DeMbare stumbled on gold.
“Playing for Dynamos is not an easy job. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with the responsibility of being the last man in the DeMbare defence but I am working hard. If I get to play against Highlanders, I intend to put in another shift,” said Chinani.
Phiri was also rejected by Ngezi Platinum Stars but has since transformed himself into one of Bosso’s most consistent performers.
Every match in the black and white of Highlanders is a blessing for a player they said is not of platinum quality in Mhondoro. “I am one of those kids who dreamt of playing for Bosso and I wear the Highlanders jersey with pride,” said the 25-year-old Phiri.
At BF, the giant has a chance to dress himself in new robes and live up to the Battle of Zimbabwe name. Here he comes!