HARARE’S high-density suburbs of Mabvuku and Tafara are famous for producing top-notch footballers.
The likes of former Warriors players Ephraim Mazarura, Cephas Chimedza, the Mugeyi twins William and Wilfred, Rabson Masauso, Joe “Kode” Mugabe, Brenna “Baba Gari” Msiska and France-based midfielder Marshall Munetsi, among others, all hail from these two suburbs.
But for a long time, the areas have been missing in action in terms of organised structures and academies.
However, the gap has now been plugged with the coming in of Ali Sundowns, which is owned by Harare businessman Desmund “The Village Pope’’ Ali, and Innocent Mugabe’s Inno Cosmos.
On top of having academies of their own, the two also have Second Division franchises with both playing in Harare’s Division 2B League.
And Mabvuku-Tafara will this Saturday afternoon come to a standstill when the two clash in a league match at Tafara High 1 School.
The football-mad suburbs have always enjoyed these derbies, given the two are not the only teams in this division based in Mabvuku-Tafara.
There is also Mabvuku United and Morelove.
But this Saturday, all roads lead to Tafara High 1 School near Kamunhu Shopping Centre for the grudge tie between Ali and Mugabe’s teams.
Ali Sundowns, who came into being in the early 2000s and produced a host of big name players like Munetsi, Walter Mukanga, Misheck Mburayi, Clive Augusto and Yadah capatain Godknows Mangani, lost the reverse fixture 1-0 at Number One Ground in Mabvuku.
In an interview yesterday, Ali said his team, who are ninth in the 20-team league with 46 points, are motivated ahead of the “Mabvuku Derby’’.
“Ali Sundowns are ready for the battle of Mafara (Mabvuku-Tafara). This match means more to us as bragging rights are at stake. We lost to Inno Cosmos at home and it affected us a lot as we then lost form thereafter. We went on a five- match losing streak. We, however, have turned the tide and we are unbeaten in seven matches. We also won the Mabvuku Cup after beating Mabvuku United, a very tough team in our ZIFA Harare Province Division 2, it was actually our first time winning against them.
“We are aware Inno Cosmos are taking this game seriously as they are within promotion range.
“For us, it is the top six which we are fighting for. Inno Cosmos have very dangerous wingers. We are, however, ready for them and we believe the play will be decided in the midfield area. We have our Desire Shereni, a silky skilled maestro who has been the driver of the Ali Sundowns machine.
“We also have Tawanda “Teko Teko” Ndoro, who is scoring for fun!! We discovered him in nearby Caledonia residential area,” Ali said.
“We will be happy if any of Inno Cosmos, Morelove and Mabvuku United get promoted into Division One but they have to earn it, they must not expect favours from us. All these teams have a chance to get promoted and we will protect the integrity of football.
“Innocent Nugabe is a very close colleague and helps in training our guys when he is around but for 90 minutes on Saturday we will be fighting for our pride. We have been working together to create a humdinger of a match on Saturday, we need to bring the exciting times back. Mabvuku/Tafara has done very well to produce four very strong teams in the ZIFA Harare Province Division 2,” Ali said.
Inno Cosmos are third on the log with 61 points to their name, just five behind log leaders ZRP Harare and they will be all out to bag the maximum points against Ali Sundowns.
Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Mugabe, who is back for a five-week visit of Zimbabwe from his base in Reading, England, said his team was ready for the job on Saturday.
“I am very happy for the role that I am playing as a former player myself in trying to get the youths off the streets. I am a product of youth development and I thought of coming up with this academy in 2013.
“I am happy it is bearing fruit and the derby between Inno Cosmos and Ali Sundowns has that potential of having Tafara and Mabvuku come to a standstill,” said Mugabe.
“It’s always nice to walk down the streets of Mabvuku listening to the locals talking about the biggest Mabvuku Derby.
“This is what we have always wanted to see — an engaged and active Mabvuku. All ages are coming together to witness the two biggest local teams showcase their talent in friendly rivalry. Everyone is a winner.
“In fact, the Derby is between two friends who are supporting local talent in Mabvuku and we want everyone to be involved and make it a special occasion,’’ said Mugabe, a former CAPS United and Air Zimbabwe Jets striker.