Kawondera makes  derby history Ralph Kawondera

Tadious Manyepo-Sports Reporter

RALPH KAWONDERA didn’t exactly have the best day in office in the Harare derby against Dynamos at Rufaro on Sunday but he did just enough to squeeze his name into the history books of this fixture. 

The 33-year-old was one of the many sub-plots in this tie that delivered a spectacle, despite ending in a 1-1 draw, enough to give the spectators full value for their money and effort. 

Kawondera had been a part of this rivalry story between two of the three biggest teams in the country when scoring in both 2022 legs while still turning out for Dynamos. 

With the first instalment of that match-up ending in a 1-1 draw and DeMbare claiming the other one 3-0 before Kawondera moved to Manica Diamonds, it meant he pitched up for Sunday’s game with a reputation to protect. 

He didn’t only avoid defeat in one of the biggest derbies in the continent while turning out for the reverse team but he became the first player to score in each of his first three derby outings while putting on both the blue of Dynamos and green of CAPS United. 

With Dynamos in the driving seat and threatening to continue their dominance over the Green Machine after getting off the mark via a 52nd-minute Kevin Moyo strike from the penalty spot, Kawondera’s derby record looked very much in jeopardy. But he couldn’t let that happen, taking matters into his own hands with seven minutes still on referee Brighton Chimene’s clock, to slide in Makepekekepe’s equaliser.

Even for the lack of his tidiness, by his standards during the game, Kawondera always looked like the likely goal scorer for CAPS United if the Lloyd Chitembwe boys were ever to put their hands up on the scoreboard. 

In typical forward instincts, Kawondera reacted swiftly to flash a header off the impressive Wayne Makuva’s cross towards the half-time break. 

He also came to the end of a marauding play from his teammates involving Junior Bunjira, Kingsley Mureremba, and William Manondo but Dynamos goalkeeper Martin Mapisa smoothered the effort inside that opening phase. 

Then his moment arrived in the 83rd minute. Makepekepe refused to be bullied, especially after falling behind to Moyo’s penalty that came after an unfortunate handball by the silky yet hardworking Bunjira. 

Veteran Rodwell Chinyengetere, who is thriving in a deep midfield role initiated the process that saw Makuva sliding in a low cross that found Manondo inside the box. 

It looked like Manondo had won a penalty after he was hacked down as he prepared to catapult the ball home but with the referee, possibly waiting to let Makepekepe play the advantage, Kawondera ghosted, reassuringly to scramble the ball past Mapisa and ensure his derby credentials remained tight. 

“I’m very happy to have scored and helped my team to collect a point,” Kawondera said. 

“For me, my heart will be burning in games like this. “This is my third derby and third goal in three years.” Kawondera hailed Chitembwe for helping him settle at Makepekepe in a short period. Kawondera and co won’t have much time to sit on the derby post-mortem as they have to quickly reorganise and focus on their next match against Bulawayo Chiefs at Luveve tomorrow. “The aim is the same. We need to play well and ensure that we get the points,” he said. “We have a team of veterans who have been at this level before and they know how to handle pressure. 

“We are confident that we will win the game against Bulawayo Chiefs so that we stay strong in the marathon.”

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