The Sunday Mail
Makomborero Mutimukulu Sports Editor
THEY might have the quality of Quality Kangadze, a saviour in striker Christian Ntouba Epoupa, the vision of Tichaona Chipunza and a dangerous Ocean whose surname is Mushure but one thing Dynamos badly need now is character.
For most of the season, DeMbare have played the role of stalker, always pushing to stay within touching distance of the leading pack in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League. But with eight matches to go, DeMbare finds themselves in a position where the championship will come their way should they win all their remaining matches. The Dynamos Class of 2017 looked lightweight at the start of the season and including the then rank outsiders in the championship equation would have been an act of bravery.
Yet here they are – this team made up of rookies, loan players and lads who badly needed career resurrection – in with a chance of landing the holy grail of local football. Prior to their ascendancy to the top, Dynamos played without pressure. When they lost their fans went home convinced that Mutasa’s rookies would come right next year. But after 25 matches, Dynamos found themselves at the top of the tree, experiencing that feeling they really craved for.
And everything changed, a draw at Shabanie Mine is now read as two points dropped and not a point gained at a venue they haven’t won at in over a decade. Getting to the top is said to be easier than staying there and the way Dynamos choked at Maglas on Thursday speaks to this theory. One up inside five minutes, through another Mushure free kick, DeMbare were expected to see off the challenge of Shabanie Mine and open a three point lead going into Match Day 27.
But they fluffed their lines badly, drawing a match they should have won by a couple of goals or just closed off. The lack of character in this team was evident long before Shabanie Mine technical director Taku Shariwa was quoted as saying: “They can’t handle pressure and they are rigid.”
The DeMbare locker room is terribly short of characters who have negotiated such terrain before, not even their coach knows what it takes to successfully negotiate the title run in. Mutasa is chasing his maiden league title and his bust up with Lincoln Zvasiya after the chocker at Mandava shows how desperate he is to land the coveted but ugly Premiership trophy. But Mutasa will have to be smarter if he is to take Dynamos to the Promised Land.
Any signs of him cracking now will motivate the opposition and plant some seeds of doubt into a team that only has three players who know how sweet winning the league title is. Only Mushure, Masimba Mambare and Denver Mukamba have championship medals in the Dynamos dressing room. For the rest of the lads, this is virgin territory and when Cleopas Kapupurika starts missing chances he is expected to put away even in his sleep, the pressure can almost be touched.
Mushure has led from the front for most of the season, playing the role of a true skipper, but he has been delivering some iffy shows over the past few weeks. Before he can get his troops all fired up, the skipper has to be on point himself. However, Mushure was anything but on point in the 1-all draw with Highlanders, the 0-1 defeat to Caps and the 1-2 Chibuku Super Cup jettisoning by Bulawayo City. Mutasa will be hoping that the peach free kick he scored against Shabanie Mine marks his skipper’s return to form.
Mambare has spent most of the season warming the bench but has just broke into the starting XI thanks to Mukamba’s off field shenanigans. Mukamba, the man Mutasa wanted to build his team around, has scored seven this term but is playing truant at a time DeMbare need him the most. Ahead of the trip to Zvishavane, Mukamba missed training on Monday, popped up on Tuesday claiming to be suffering from an ankle injury and was sent to the gym on Wednesday but “failed to last 10 minutes on the bike.”
The Dynamos doctors have privately told Mutasa that they could not detect the “injury” Mukamba was complaining about. It’s either the midfielder is lying or the doctors don’t know what they are doing. Or both. Now with Mukamba in the woods, DeMbare will look up to Christian Ntouba Epoupa for salvation. For Mutasa the trick will be to keep the Cameroonian, who is available for the clash against the Sunshine Boys, fit and out of trouble.