The Battle of Baobab Tonderai Ndiraya
Tonderai Ndiraya

Tonderai Ndiraya

Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
LEADERS FC Platinum’s draw at Rufaro yesterday has stoked the flames of the blood-and-thunder showdown between Ngezi Platinum and Dynamos, who meet at Baobab in Mhondoro this afternoon in a Castle Lager Premiership tie likely to be a very explosive battle. The high-profile match between what is dubbed as DeMbare Urban and DeMbare Rural starts at 2pm. It’s also live on SuperSport.

The two sides were keenly following events at Rufaro yesterday, where FC Platinum took on Harare City, who have their own big battle against relegation and as they have often done in the past, the hosts found a way to derail the Zvishavane miners’ quest for honours.

That result was sweet music into the ears of both Dynamos and Ngezi ahead of their own showdown as they looked at it from a perspective of two points dropped by Norman Mapeza and his men rather than a point gained by the log leaders. A win for FC Platinum would have taken Norman Mapeza’s side four points clear at the top.

But now a win for either Dynamos or Ngezi will propel either side to the top of the table. Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya said although they can only celebrate if they beat Dynamos, news that FC Platinum had dropped points was something that cheered their spirits. “The race remains wide open without a clear team running away with it. We don’t want to lag behind,’’ said Ndiraya.

“This is also an opportunity to shoot to the summit, but it’s easier said and we can only get a result after we have played. I think the team which will be consistent in the next three matches will win the league.’’ Ndiraya said they will bank on home ground advantage at a venue where they rarely lose.

“That is obviously giving us a lot of confidence. We have played strong teams like FC Platinum and How Mine here and managed to get some good results,’’ said Ndiraya.

“But this game is a different game altogether. We have a record we want to protect. We are ready for the match now. It is going to be a difficult match for both teams. There is going to be a lot of pressure coming from the fact that both teams are fighting for the league and are only separated by a point. There is also pressure coming from the outside. We hope it will be an exciting match for everyone.”

The young coach has also not forgotten that Dynamos handed them a 3-2 defeat in a thrilling encounter under the National Sports Stadium floodlights. Big forward Christian Epoupa Ntouba made the difference when he scored the goal that decided one of the best games played so far this season. Bad boy midfielder Denver Mukamba, who opened another chapter to his mischief by going AWOL this week, grabbed the Dynamos opener before Terence Dzvukamanja replied 10 minutes later.

Ngezi then took the lead through midfielder Dominic Mukandi, who is also not going to be part of this match through injury, while skipper Ocean Mushure brought DeMbare level. “I am sure the two teams will compete very well. Everyone is looking forward to the game. In Harare, it was a very exciting game which produced five goals and it was an open match,” said Ndiraya.

It, however, emerged from the Dynamos camp last night that centreback Lincoln Zvasiya, who has been putting on questionable performances, is set to be axed from the team that will travel to Mhondoro today.

Some reports said Zvasiya was spotted by some DeMbare fans in Ngezi during the week, when he was supposed to be training, and this has strained his relationship with his employers. The defender was at fault when Shabanie grabbed a goal at Maglas and coach Lloyd Mutasa turned on him after the match. Dynamos have been looking to plug the holes that were exposed in their 1-1 draw against Tsholotsho in their last assignment a fortnight ago.

The Glamour Boys will also be hoping that Cameroonian hitman Ntouba rediscovers his scoring form in the home stretch and propel his side back to the top. Dynamos team manager Richard Chihoro was also happy with the FC Platinum result against Harare City. “We have been praying that they (FC Platinum) drop points. That is a very good thing for us,” Chihoro said.

Chihoro also said he was looking forward to breaking Ngezi’s good home record against them. “This season we are breaking records. We had never beaten Hwange at home, but we did it this season. We want to break that record and we are looking forward to win that game. We have no pressure at all, maybe, as the hosts they have the pressure. What we know as Dynamos is that we tend to struggle against small teams. So we are over that draw against Tsholotsho and we are confident going into this match,” said Chihoro.

Today: Bulawayo City v Chapungu (Barbourfields), Yadah v How Mine (Rufaro), Ngezi v Dynamos (Baobab, 2pm, SS), ZPC Kariba v Chicken Inn (Nyamhunga).

Tomorrow: Tsholotsho v Bantu Rovers (Dulivhadzimo), Shabanie v Triangle (Maglas), Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields)), CAPS United v Hwange (National Sports Stadium, 3pm, SS).

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