Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe has challenged his players to put their hearts and minds into their epic Harare Derby battle against bitter rivals Dynamos at Rufaro tomorrow.
And, DeMbare gaffer Tonderai Ndiraya says the Harare Derby should bring the best out of his men despite the challenges they have experienced this season.
The two giants go head-to-head at Rufaro with Makepekepe in the race for the league championship, while DeMbare are trying to find their way back into the light after a difficult start to the season.
This Derby has also been spiced by the emergence of a number of players who could make a difference, notably the Glamour Boys’ dreadlocked forward, Evans Katema.
Dynamos turned to Katema to try and get them goals, after the striker, who has shone in the lower divisions, showed he can stand the heat in the top-flight league with a good and consistent show in the colours of Mushowani Stars.
Katema scored twice for Mushowani Stars in a losing cause against Makepekepe earlier this season and will face them again before the campaign reaches the halfway mark.
This means, he could actually play three matches against the Green Machine this season.
He was hired to provide the cutting edge for a DeMbare side that has scored just nine league goals this season and, embarrassingly, if one adds the eight which Bosso have also scored, the two giants’ combined tally still falls short of the 25 CAPS have scored.
Makepekepe, who have experienced mixed results against their biggest opponents, are keen to keep their challenge for the league championship alive with victory tomorrow.
The Harare Derby has, somehow, lost its sparkle over the years and Chitembwe believes this has to do with the attitude of the players, who sometimes get overawed by the stage.
“The message has been the same — to concentrate on the game itself and not play the occasion,’’ he told The Herald.
‘‘I think this is very key.
‘‘Players sometimes tend to concentrate on the occasion, on the hype and forget to do what is necessary for them to do, which is making the game very simple.
“Most of the times they tend to want to complicate a lot of things on the pitch and by so doing they end up making a lot of mistakes which eventually lead to catastrophe. They have to play with their hearts as well as their minds.’’
The Green Machine lost the last match 1-2 to their opponents towards the end of last season with the result proving a crucial one for DeMbare who were battling hard to avoid relegation.
CAPS United go into the match with renewed confidence following the 2-0 win over Yadah last week.
The victory helped them tame a four-match win-less run.
They will, however, miss defender Valentine Musarurwa through injury with former DeMbare man Carlos Rusere set to fill the void.
“I am very pleased with the attitude and the work ethic. I have seen a lot of positives in the team this week,’’ said Chitembwe.
‘‘I think we are good to go and we are ready.
“This is one special fixture on the local football calendar. It has always been like that. Anything less than effort, intelligence, and proper tactical application will obviously be detrimental to any of the two teams.
“It has always been the nature of the games between Dynamos and CAPS United that the players try to give their very best for their side and we are also endeavouring to give a performance that is worth winning.’’
Makepekepe are currently third on the log standings with 26 points, two behind log leaders FC Platinum, who face a tough test against Chapungu at Mandava this afternoon.
Ndiraya believes his side need to fire on all cylinders following an erratic run this year.
The Glamour Boys have won twice in their last seven outings.
“We are expecting a very tough CAPS United side. Remember they are now two points away from the top and that is giving them a lot of confidence.
“They are a team with a lot of experience but, look, this is a Derby, they must also expect us to compete despite our problems or our poor form this season.
They must expect a competitive match from our lads,” said Ndiraya.
DeMbare will miss the services of their Edward Sadomba, Tawanda Macheke and Ghanaian Robert Sackey who have been sidelined by injuries.
However, newboys Katema, Simba Nhivi, Archford Gutu and Godknows Murwira are expected to spice up the duel.
Ndiraya sounded optimistic ahead of the match although his side sit a distant ninth on the log standings with 19 points from 14 starts.
“Quite frankly, I saw a different attitude this week. Perhaps it’s because we are playing a Derby.
‘’Normally, they say when you play a Derby you don’t need to motivate the players because they know what is at the stake.
“So, that’s exactly what has happened this week. Different attitude, all together, from what we have seen in the past.
“I’m just hoping that they will carry the same attitude into the game on Sunday.
“This is a big match, no doubt, I think one of the biggest on the local football calendar. So, if we can get such an attitude, positive for that matter, that really makes my job easier,” he said.
Today: Chicken Inn v Bulawayo Chiefs (Luveve), Herentals v Hwange (National Sports Stadium), ZPC Kariba v Triangle (Nyamhunga), Yadah v Harare City (Rufaro), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Black Rhinos (Baobab), FC Platinum v Chapungu (Mandava)
Tomorrow: Manica Diamonds v Highlanders (Vengere), Dynamos v CAPS United (Rufaro), TelOne v Mushowani Stars (Luveve)