By Sheldon Hakata
PSL giants Dynamos and Highlanders will renew their rivalry when they lock horns in a blockbuster tie at Barbourfields Stadium this weekend.
The stuttering perennial rivals will go into the match seeking to bounce back to winning ways after suffering huge setbacks in their quest to scale the log after dropping crucial points against minnows Manica Diamonds and Yadah FC, respectively, during their last encounters.
Such has been the two sides’ poor form this season that they find themselves way off top spots.
DeMbare sit on the 10th position while Bosso are hovering precariously above the drop zone.
In the 11 matches they have played so far, Dynamos have managed just four wins while Highlanders have notched a paltry two.
Highlanders’ run of two successive victories was brought to a screeching halt after yet another poor performance which saw them losing 1-nil to fellow strugglers Yadah FC.
It could have been worse for the Bulawayo giants as their opponents failed to convert from the penalty spot.
Despite their wretched run of poor form, Highlanders gaffer Madinda Ndlovu has been putting on a brave face; claiming that several ‘forces’ have been affecting his team’s performances.
Whether those ‘forces’ would be on show during their tie against wounded DeMbare remains to be seen, but the burly coach’s fate has already been sealed by his sudden resignation.
The Harare giants themselves have flattered to deceive, huffing and puffing without really reaching levels expected of them.
Coach Tonderai ‘Stanza’ Ndiraya seems to have steadied the ship after a poor start to the season saw the unpopular George ‘Mablanyo’ Chigowe being shown the exit at the beginning of the season.
But form counts for nothing in matches like these.
Bosso broke a decade-long jinx when they collected maximum points after dismantling their rivals, home and away, in the premier league last year and they will be looking to build on those good outings.
It was a horrible weekend for premiership giants who all failed to collect maximum points in their respective encounters last weekend.
Title contenders Chicken Inn will also be looking to bounce back after slumping to a 2-1 shock defeat to inconsistent Harare City.
Harare City coach Mark Harrison breathed a sigh of relief after seasoned forwards Kuda Musharu and Ishmael Wadi surprised log leaders Chicken Inn at Luveve Stadium to give his side, popularly known as the Sun Shine Boys, their first away win after enduring a dry spell.
The Gamecocks have up to date donated six points before their home crowd this season, lost 0-1 to FC Platinum and now Harare City 1-2.
Title contenders CAPS United also suffered defeat at the hands of Herentals.
Despite the defeats, both CAPS United and Chicken Inn are at 22 points from 11 games, with a superior goal difference separating the two sides.
The young Herentals coach, Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva, has once again turned giant-killer after mowing down the duo of Harare giants Dynamos before claiming the scalp of the fancied CAPS United on Saturday.
CAPS United, popularly known as Makepekepe or the Green Machine, tipped as early season pacesetters, succumbed to a surprise defeat for the second game running that proved to be a thorn in the flesh for their supporters who have since turned against their coach Lloyd Chitembwe.
The recent loss has piled more misery on a team that has been performing very well and presenting a strong Castle Lager Premiership title challenge.
The ‘Students’, Herentals, have won twice; with those victories coming against Dynamos and CAPS United.
Herentals have since drawn six games, lost three and now occupy 13th place on the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, with 12 points from 11 matches.
The two giant-killers, Harare City and Herentals, trade blows at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow in another explosive encounter.
However, CAPS United take some solace in that fellow pacesetters, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum, failed to capitalise on their slump in form after both teams could not collect full set of points in their respective matches.
The inexperience and inconsistency by Dynamos players once again failed to provide those smiles on the faces of the mythical seven million blue and white half of the nation at Rufaro Stadium.
Complacency could have played part, especially after coming from a win against the defending champions FC Platinum.
The nervousness by the lads at this big stage before an expectant crowd proved costly for the fading Harare giants’ fortunes.
Mandava’s shocking result has seen Dynamos being the second club to beat Pure Platinum Play at home in two years.
The defending champions, FC Platinum, travelled to Mhondoro with the hope of bouncing back from a shock defeat to Dynamos and surprisingly managed a nil-all against Ngezi Platinum Stars at their fortress, Baobab Stadium.
Dynamos could have come back into the championship race contention if they had managed a win in the game against the Gem Boys. The leading pack, Chicken Inn and CAPS United, had failed to stretch the lead at the top of the log table.
The Glamour Boys’ poor display at Rufaro Stadium once again brought their fight for revival to naught at this level of the competition.
A lot of disappointment has crept back into the Dynamos camp after such a disappointing show against new boys Manica Diamonds at Rufaro Stadium.
Bulawayo Chiefs vs FC Platinum (Luveve)
Chapungu vs Yadah (Mandava)
Black Rhinos vs ZPC Kariba (NSS)
Harare City vs Herentals (Rufaro)
CAPS United vs TelOne (NSS)
Triangle vs Chicken Inn (Gibbo)
Mushowani vs Hwange (Rufaro)
Highlanders vs Dynamos (Barbourfields)
Manica Diamomnds vs Ngezi Platinum Stars (Vengere Stadium)