By Sheldon Hakata
FOOTBALL embodies a variety of socio-economic and political interests in Zimbabwe.
Clubs have strong ties with their communities and play an essential role in encouraging social cohesion and community development.
Substantial literature shows that Zimbabwean football teams like Highlanders, Dynamos, Zimbabwe Saints and Black Aces, among others, were platforms for African nationalism.
In fact, Dynamos, Highlanders and Zimbabwe Saints afforded African political leaders from ZAPU and ZANU a platform to organise and market anti-colonial ideologies.
Prominent nationalists, like the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo, also known as ‘Father Zimbabwe’, the founding father of ZAPU, identified with Highlanders.
In post-colonial Zimbabwe, football continues to occupy a central social and political space.
It is part of everyday life for fans in Zimbabwe.
Most post-colonial debates in Zimbabwean football have been largely built around the rivalry between Highlanders and Dynamos.
But then, there is another rivalry between Dynamos and CAPS United.
The return of the Harare Derby at the giant National Sports Stadium (NSS) in the capital this Sunday is brewing.
The derby has been regularly contested and fans of both clubs consider the other to be their main rivals.
The rivalry has been maintained to present day with many notable matches to talk about.
One such notable is the highest scoring game in the Harare derby – the 7-0 win by CAPS United at Rufaro Stadium in 1987.
The other match is when CAPS United came from 3-0 down to equalise within five minutes to stoppage time at the NSS.
That was in 2016.
Many CAPS United supporters had actually lost hope and gone home and, out of the blue, ‘The Green Machine’ (CAPS United) fought back, scoring three goals.
They could have won it had a Ronald Pfumbidzai header not just gone over the bar to make it 4-3.
It could have been the greatest come back for a team trailing 3-nil with five minutes to the whistle.
Several times the course of a title or the journey to a cup final has relied on the outcome of a derby match.
As with any major football rivalry, revelling and mockery between the two camps of fans, many of whom work and even live together, has been the norm.
Players who transfer between the two teams are usually booed by former fans.
For instance, Denver Mukamba, Ronald Chitiyo, Devon Chafa, goalkeeper Tonderai Mateyaunga and Oscar Machapa, to mention but a few, are such players who have borne the brunt of booing.
Indeed CAPS United has a proven track record.
Popularly known as the ‘Green Machine’ or ‘Makepekepe’, CAPS United was formed in 1973 in Harare.
It rose to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The name stands for the Central African Pharmaceutical Society.
The club is Harare’s second most popular football team after their bitter rivals Dynamos.
Some of the country’s top national team players and legends have come out of CAPS United and Dynamos.
The likes of Joel Shambo, Shacky Tauro, Brenna Msiska, Stanford ‘Stix’ Mtizwa, Friday ‘Amayenge’ Phiri, Stanley ‘Sinyo’ Ndunduma and national team coach Charles Mhlauri to mention but a few, came from CAPS United.
For Dynamos, it was Moses Chunga, Gift Mpariwa, goalkeeper Japhet ‘Short Cat’ Muparutsa, Tauya ‘Doctor’ Murehwa, George ‘Master Mind’ Shaya, Sunday ‘Mhofu’ and Misheck ‘Scania’ Chidzambwa, bothers Biggie and Garikayi Zuze, Clayton Munemo, Edward ‘Twinkle Toes’ Katsvere, Memory ‘Gwenzi’ Mucherahowa, Hamid ‘Mzukuru’ Dhana and many others.
Makepekepe is famous for its green and white stripped jerseys and white shorts paired with white socks or the reverse.
Under the leadership of Steve ‘The Dude’ Kwashi, they won the 1996 league championship and later, in 2004, Charles Mhlauri took over and won back-to-back championships.
They have won five Castle Lager Premier Soccer League titles, (1979, 1996, 2004, 2005 and 2016).
They have also won 20 domestic league cup competitions, with victories in the Castle Cup, ZIFA Cup, CBZ Cup, BP Cup, Zimbabwe Charity Shield and the Zimbabwe Independence Trophy.
In 2014, they won the Zambezi Trophy in Malawi.
They have also appeared in CAF Competitions from the 1980s up to 2017.
The furthest they have reached are the quarter finals.
Dynamos, on the other hand, was formed in 1963.
It has 22 championships, which is a national record and at least 16 trophy honours.
In 1998, Dynamos contested in the final of the CAF African Champions League against Ivorian side ASEC Mimosa but lost the two-legged match under highly controversial circumstances.
Historically, Dynamos has been considered one of the great African teams.
The club’s colours are blue and white.
Both clubs have no Stadiums of their own but rely on rented Harare City Council stadiums.
What matters most this Sunday is present form of the two premiership sides in their encounter at the NSS which has been unused for quite some time.
Harare football fans welcome the football fete after everything has been happening outside the capital.
Action was concentrated at Bata Stadium, Gweru, Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane, Colliery Stadium in Hwange, Nyamhunga Stadium in Kariba, Gibbo in Chiredzi and Barbourfields in Bulawayo.
Harare had been starved of football action.
There will be high expectations as giant NSS opens gates once more for the big encounter, the Harare derby.
On April 30 2023, CAPS United played Dynamos in first round of the Castle Lager PSL encounter at the NSS.
The match ended 0-2 in favour of Dynamos.
Will it be a back-to-back victory for Dynamos or the Green Machine will take away the glamour from the Glamour Boys?