From Ray Bande in Mutare
DENVER MUKAMBA turned on the magic as Dynamos started their rehabilitation exercise after the massacre in Tunis with a
deserved victory in this Castle Lager Premiership tie at Sakubva yesterday.
The lanky midfielder has been criticised this season, as he struggled to match the lofty heights he scaled last season, on his way to being named the Premiership’s Most Valuable Young Player.
But yesterday he ran the show, with a stylish man-of-the-match performance, which was at the heart of an impressive display by the champions in a game they dominated and could have won by a bigger margin had they taken their chances.
And, just five days after letting in half-a-dozen goals in that mauling in Tunis at the hands of African champions Esperance, the Glamour Boys kept a clean sheet for 90 minutes yesterday.
Of course, the gulf in class between Buffaloes and Esperance is as wide as the length of the Sahara Desert, but you have to give DeMbare the credit they deserve for having the character to rise from the ashes of that drubbing on the shores of the Mediterranean
It’s not easy to do that, especially when it’s the first time that such a thing has happened to you, and you also have to deal with a furious supporters’ club back home in rebellion over their team’s meek surrender in Tunis.
The uneven pitch at Sakubva can be tricky for visiting teams and, as the high-flying Highlanders found out on their visit here two weeks ago, when they failed to impose themselves and left with just a point.
For DeMbare, such a return would not have been acceptable, what with emotions running high among their fans, a generation of which was not even born when the
Glamour Boys slumped to that seven-goal humiliation at the hands of bitter city rivals CAPS United.
Hundreds of the DeMbare fans invaded Mutare yesterday with the Harare Chapter of the club’s supporters association organising a number of buses to ferry the fans to Sakubva.
And they left with their spirits high after a good performance by their team in which they killed off this game in the first half when Mukamba and Murape Murape scored for the Glamour Boys.
An estimated 7 000 fans were at Sakubva and, for a midweek game, that is a pretty good crowd and the chemistry between the players and the supporters, which vanished when DeMbare thrashed Black Mambas 4-1 at Rufaro, was back in full flow here yesterday.
The Zora Butter dance celebrations accompanied both goals and the players took their time to salute both the traveling group of supporters and those who are based in this city, after the match.
A minute of silence was observed, just before kick-off, in honour of national hero, Cde Edson Ncube, who will be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare on Friday afternoon.
DeMbare coach Callisto Pasuwa has come under severe criticism since the Tunis debacle with a big number of the club’s fans blaming him for trying to mislead them by complaining loudly about the referees’ performance in a game where his tactics were exposed.
He must have returned home last night in a better mood after seeing an improved show from his men ahead of their test against Hwange at Rufaro on Sunday.
Pasuwa, refreshingly, has refused to throw in the towel and close the door on the possibility of his team staging the greatest comeback story in Champions League history by booting out Esperance in Harare next weekend.
But while many have lampooned him for day-dreaming and living on the wrong planet, there is a small section of DeMbare fans that still believe it can be done and if they can get off to a flying start like they did yesterday, who knows?
There was only two minutes on the clock when DeMbare surged ahead with Murape, their most experienced player on the field, pushing them into the lead.
Murape volleyed home after taking advantage of poor communication between Buffaloes defenders Danani Chinowawa and Philip Chandisaita.
Pausuwa’s charges doubled the scoreline nine minutes later after a neat exchange of passes between Rodreck Mutuma — the self-styled Prince whose conduct in
Tunis has also been condemned — and Mukamba.
Once Mukamba saw his opening, he didn’t need a second invitation and fired home from the edge of the box.
The DeMbare fans, who made their team feel at home as they silenced the voices of the home supporters, were in Dreamland.
The Glamour Boys continued to dictate the pace, with Mukamba at the heart of their best moves, and he could have made it three with a long rage shot that just missed the target.
With DeMbare ruthlessly dominant in that first half, Buffaloes hardly created any meaningful scoring chances and, on many occasions, it was a question of when, rather than if, the Glamour Boys would extend their lead.
Buffaloes came back a better side after the break but the damage had already been done and when Pasuwa threw on dangerman, Takesure Chinyama, deep in that period, one could sense there wasn’t going to be any comeback show by the hosts.
Chinyama rattled the bar with a fierce shot but there was no goal for the hitman who, for the first time since joining DeMbare, has now gone two games without scoring, although he has the alibi that he only played a cameo role yesterday.
Although Dynamos got the three points they badly wanted yesterday, fatigue was evident among their players, most of whom struggled to withstand physical challenges from their opponents while defender Partson Jaure, linkman Milton Makopa and striker Martin Vengesai all suffered groin injuries.
Pasuwa was a relieved man after the match and told journalists that he was focusing on one game at a time.
“Maybe we were just trying to bring back the confidence after that heavy defeat in Tunisia,” said Pasuwa.
“We made sure we had to win this match at all costs because we seriously needed to restore the confidence both in the players and the fans.
“I am happy we managed to do just that.
“We really cannot talk about our intentions to win the league at the moment but we just have to focus on each match as it comes along. It is also unfortunate that we now have a growing number of injuries in the team and that might affect us in the coming few weeks. However, I hope they will get fit soon.”
Buffaloes’ coach, Saul Chaminuka, who is now under fire from Mutare soccer fans, said he was confident his team will start winning at home.
“I think our performance at home leaves a lot to be desired. We are playing well each time we are away but surprisingly we are failing to deliver when we are playing before our own home crowd," said Chaminuka.
Buffaloes: T Mafunga, T Ndlovu, P Alfasi, D Chinowawa; J Jambo, E Dzumbunu, P Chandisaita, P Matizanadzo, R Mwenga, B Chirere, P Bamusi.
Dynamos: W Arubi, P Jaure (G. Magariro 54th min), G Bello, T Magorimbo, G Zhokinyi, M Makopa, T Muparati, D Mukamba, M Murape, M Vengesai (T Chinyama 67th min), R Mutuma.