LOOKING to bury three years in the shadows!
This aptly explains Dynamos’ mission as they try to put behind them the futile African Champions League campaigns of the past three seasons.
Undone by North Africans in the previous editions, DeMbare this time around face Mochudi Centre Chiefs from neighbouring Botswana in the preliminary round of the continent’s elite club competition at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
The Glamour Boys have been in the African football wilderness and are looking for a turnaround of their fortunes this year.
An away goals loss to Algerian giants MC Algiers in 2011 dumped DeMbare out of the Champions League in the first round before an emphatic 7-1 aggregate loss to Esperance humiliated them a year later.
Even relegation to the Confederation Cup in 2012 could not do them justice as they fell down to Angolan side InterClube.
Last season, they again melted in the face of little known CA Bizertin of Tunisia in the first round. This has created an air of desperation and pressure at Dynamos and coach Kalisto Pasuwa is stuck in a tight corner to at least emulate the 2010 crop which got into the group stages.
Chiefs provide what coach Pasuwa believes is a stumbling block they can, however, flatten given the pressure to deliver in Africa.
“Last season we played that team from Lesotho and we underrated them but look at what happened when we visited them. We lost,” he said.
“This time around we are playing to go all the way to the final. Dynamos are a big institution and the players know that. I was away in South Africa, but I came back to see an enthusiastic squad eager to go. This shows the attitude in camp and as a coach you cannot ask for more.”
Pasuwa began preparations for the Champions League last Wednesday after returning from the African Nations Championships (Chan) where he was national team assistant to Ian Gorowa.
New signings Masimba Mambare and defender Themba Ndlovu began training with the team on Wednesday, for the first time ever.
Ndlovu is fighting to replace Gift Bello at centre-back where Sidney Linyama is also seriously bidding to partner Partson Jaure.
Other six players who were at the Chan tournament also started training with the team for the first time this season. Among them were goalkeeper George Chigova, Jaure and midfielder Tawanda Muparati who are sure bets to start this afternoon.
Striker Simba Sithole was a worry at Friday’s training after sustaining an ankle knock at the Chan tournament but has been cleared for this afternoon’s game.
Meanwhile, Chiefs arrived in Harare at lunch time yesterday with their Serbian coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic expressing respect for their opponents. But he refused to be intimidated by Dynamos’ profile and feels they can upset the Zimbabweans.
“Chances are 50-50 for both teams to win,” he said. “I have not watched Dynamos in action before. Not even on DVD. But my friends who know them tell me that they are a very good team, tactically good.”
Chiefs came with former Warriors defender Arnold Chaka who is highly regarded in the Botswana league.
Like his coach, Chaka has also expressed respect for Dynamos and put much emphasis on the hard-to-please Dynamos fans who he feels could play an instrumental role in deciding the match.
“They (Dynamos) have a wonderful crowd and the most important thing is to manage it. In that way we will be able to diffuse the team’s tactics and put their players under pressure,’ said Chaka.