Advantage DeMbare as PSL return
Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
HARARE giants Dynamos have a familiar run of fixtures which could work in their favour as they are set to kick off their campaign in the second round of the Castle Lager Premiership football with at least three of their opening four games at the National Sports Stadium.
DeMbare, who are currently involved in a bruising race with Chicken Inn and FC Platinum at the top, will technically be the away team when they plunge back to action this Saturday against Yadah at the giant stadium.
Afterwards they will host Jairos Tapera’s Triangle United at the same venue, followed by the game against army side Cranborne Bullets either at Sakubva in Mutare or at the recently approved Vengere Stadium in Rusape.
But Bullets could also choose to take the match to the National Sports Stadium in the hope of maximising on gate takings.
Dynamos will then welcome the high-riding champions FC Platinum, ahead of the trip to Bulawayo for another intriguing fixture against the Chicken Inn, who currently lead the marathon, halfway through the 2021/22 campaign.
The log table looks exciting at the apex where the three front runners only separated by a point. Chicken Inn managed to keep their advantage going to the mid-season break after edging out Triangle 1-0.
They have 35 points in the bag and an away trip to Cranborne Bullets at Sakubva awaits them this coming Saturday. FC Platinum dislodged DeMbare from second place during the break after they were awarded their abandoned game against Highlanders at Mandava on a 3-0 scoreline.
They are also on the road to Sakubva this Sunday to face Tenax. The platinum miners had four straight wins before the break to take their points tally to 34, the same as Dynamos but with a superior goal difference.
DeMbare will be home away from home against Yadah this Saturday. They have enjoyed good fortunes at the National Sports Stadium where they secured eight of their 10 victories in the league this season.
The last time an almost similar run of fixtures unfolded for them, they managed to put together a winning run of five games, which had begun in Bulawayo with a victory against Bulawayo Chiefs.
Dynamos then won four straight games at the giant stadium to boost their campaign. The streak was key after their campaign had taken a knock earlier on.
But this week they are likely to return without two key players Emmanuel Paga and Shadreck Nyahwa who have taken advantage of the mid-season break to travel for trials after they were invited for assessments at Tanzanian side Azam FC and Pyramids of Egypt.
Ghanaian Paga has particularly been in good form after bagging five goals, to become DeMbare’s top goal scorer, midway through the campaign.
The forward has struck a rich understanding with teenage winger Bill Antonio, who has been the main provider for DeMbare’s goals.
Antonio is set to return after missing the last two games before the break because of the red card he picked up in the highly-charged contest with Highlanders at Barbourfields last month.
DeMbare went to the break on a high after demolishing traditional rivals CAPS United 3-0. Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya then predicted a tough race in the remainder of the season.
“It’s been a journey; a difficult one but one which we are really excited about and our wish is if we could push more or better than what we did in the first round matches, it will be exciting.
“I am sure the second round matches will be exciting because of the focus on the finishing line. I think we have put ourselves in a very good position to fight to get to the finishing line,” he said. Prior to the Derby win, Dynamos had not won a match in their previous three outings against Bulawayo City, Highlanders and Herentals.
While the break was largely welcomed by the giants as a necessity, Ndiraya was also concerned the 20-day recess could come with a negative impact on his team’s form.
“It’s normally a huge challenge, especially with our players to get them back into the mood again after going for such a long break.
“That’s why I said we will not have much time to rest; we have to quickly come back and start working again so that we don’t lose the rhythm.”
DeMbare returned to training last Wednesday after giving their players some days off.
Friday: Herentals v Harare City (NSS)
Saturday: Cranborne Bullets v Chicken Inn (Sakubva), Bulawayo City v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Barbourfields), Yadah v Dynamos (NSS)
Sunday: Tenax v FC Platinum (Sakubva), CAPS United v ZPC Kariba (NSS), Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields), Whawha v Manica Diamonds (Ascot), Triangle v Bulawayo Chiefs