‘Battle of Zimbabwe’ beckons

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IT’s back to the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) after a week-long break as the country was holding the 2018 harmonised elections.
Highlanders and Dynamos clash in a blockbuster at Emagumeni (Barbourfields Stadium) and the match is expected to light up Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.
Although it’s a league match with three points at stake, pride is at stake too.
At times, fans from the two sides do not worry about winning the league, but the ‘Battle for Zimbabwe’ – as matches between the two are affectionately known.
Although history favours Dynamos in the ‘Battle for Zimbabwe’, Highlanders have started to turn the tables against their perennial soccer ‘rivals’.
Highlanders won their first league match against Dynamos in 10 years on May 28, 2016 at Rufaro Stadium in Harare.
Highlanders fans went into a frenzy in DeMbare’s fortress, in an afternoon that Prince Dube, then 19 years old, broke the hearts of Dynamos faithfuls.
Vusa Nyoni’s brace on July 30 2006 had been the last time Highlanders collected three points from Dynamos.
The brace beat Witness Munkuli on goals for Dynamos after the then ‘magician’, Johannes Ngodzo, played assist in all the goals.
In 2016, however, it was Dutchman Elroy Akbay, the then Highlanders coach who managed to do what former coaches like Kelvin Kaindu, Mkhuphali Masuku, Methembe Ndlovu, Bongani Mafu and Mark Mathe, among others, had failed.
Dominating Highlanders for a decade ended in unfamiliar fashion for the Glamour Boys’ class of 2016 that included Stephen Alimenda and Dominic Mukandi under the tutelage of Lloyd Mutasa.
Mutasa – a man who has donned the DeMbare jersey before and understands what it means to win against Bosso – will be out to correct the team’s mistakes at Emagumeni.
On Sunday, he pins his hopes on new signings, Brett Amidu and Kingstone Nkhata.
Amidu is on loan from FC Platinum, while Nkhata joined Dynamos from Super Diski side Supersport United.
The DeMbare machine has not been at its best this season after a fair share of boardroom problems.
Meanwhile, log leaders FC Platinum travel to the City of Kings and Queens for a date against Bulawayo City at Babourfields tomorrow (Saturday, August 4).
The platinum miners are out to defend their maiden title that they managed to wrestle from CAPS United last season.
So far, FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza has managed to set the pace at the apex of the log and his lads are favourites in tomorrow’s tie.
Second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars will be at home where they face debutants gold miners Nichrut at Baobab Stadium in Mhondoro-Ngezi.
The Tonderayi Ndiraya-led Ngezi Platinum Stars trail the PSL log leaders by two points and Ngezi would not want to drop any points at this moment.
The Mhondoro-Ngezi-based side seek to claim their maiden league title which they lost on the 11th hour last season.
The title race seems to be opened with FC Platinum, Ngezi, Chicken Inn and Highlanders coming into the picture.
With 14 matches to play, Chicken Inn trail the log leaders by nine points, while the black and white army, Highlanders, need 11 points to catch up with the log leaders.
In the last 14 matches, a team can garner up to 42 points.
Elsewhere, power utility side ZPC Kariba welcome Triangle at Nyamhunga Stadium in the resort town.
It is one of the longest journeys forTriangle as the two are 800kms apart.
However, Triangle will have no problem with the high temperatures in the resort town because it can also be extremely hot in the Lowveld.
The ‘Sugar Sugar Boys’ (Triangle) will definitely be feeling at home in Kariba.
At Ascot Stadium in Gweru, airmen Chapungu host Bulawayo Chiefs, a side who have previously ruffled the feathers of FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum this year.
Chiefs became popular after beating the league pacesetters.
However, facing Chapungu at Ascot Stadium might be tricky as the airmen have been trying to stamp their authority of late.
Meanwhile, Yadah entertain the ‘students’ (Herentals) at the National Sports Stadium in a Harare derby, while municipal sides Harare City and Mutare City lock horns at Rufaro Stadium to wind up tomorrow’s action.
CAPS United will be out to dehorn Black Rhinos on Sunday in a potential thriller of the afternoon, while Shabanie Mine welcome the Gamecocks (Chicken Inn) at Maglas Stadium in Zvishavane to close Week 21 action.
All matches kick off at 3pm.

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