HIGHLANDERS troops head into Rufaro Stadium this afternoon with nothing at the back of their minds, except the thought that they have failed to exorcise the ghost that has seen them fail to beat perennial rivals Dynamos in a long time.
This year’s Bob 90 Super Cup final is a stage where the country’s top football clubs will have a point to prove.
Highlanders head coach Kelvin Kaindu is yet to win a match against Dynamos since he got onto Bosso’s hot seat in 2012, playing two 1-1 stalemates in the league in that year – both at Barbourfields (BF) and Rufaro.
Last year, Bosso had counted a win against DeMbare in Harare in April after Njabulo “Tshiki’ Ncube had put them ahead six minutes after half time before Partson Jaure equalised just before the final whistle.
It was all gloom for Bosso in October when DeMbare left-back Ocean Mushure sunk the Bulawayo giants with a late penalty two minutes before the final whistle at BF. In last year’s Bob 89 Super Cup final, played in a two-legged format, Dynamos beat Highlanders 2-1 at BF before thumping them 4-0 in Harare which the Glamour Boys followed with a 1-0 win in the Independence Cup.
Bosso have not beaten Dynamos in a league match since 2006, where they prevailed in the Independence Cup 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out in 2011.
But the grand stage is different this year.
As Bosso plot to break that non-winning jinx, Dynamos have pride to restore after bowing out of the African Champions League after losing to AS Vita of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the first round. Head coach Kalisto Pasuwa has to win back the hearts of the DeMbare fans and his bosses’ confidence.
Both sides have played three matches in pre-season with Bosso beating Harare City in the semi-final of the Bob Super Cup, FC Platinum in a friendly match and losing in a penalty shoot-out in the CG Msipa Charity tournament.
Dynamos have had the fairer share, playing in four competitive matches, beating Botswana Centre Chiefs 3-0 in the preliminary round first leg of the Champions League before being held 1-1 away.
They were held to a goalless draw by AS Vita in Harare in the first round first leg and went on to lose 1-0 in DRC to exit the continental showcase early.
But the men to watch in today’s match would be the new faces from either side that would probably be the main attraction with Bosso’s Kuda Mahachi and Felix Chindungwe, who never lost to Dynamos last year at Chicken Inn.
Valentine Ndaba’s Shabanie Mine did not lose to Dynamos last year and neither did Charles Sibanda, Joel Ngodzo and Welcome Ndiweni at FC Platinum.
Kaindu has said he believes this would be a different year for Highlanders.
“I know Dynamos have been a dominant force, they are a big team and we respect them. But this is a different year and the game is going to be played on a different platform,” the Zambian gaffer said last week. Dynamos’ Masimba Mambare, who crossed the floor from Highlanders amid much hullabaloo from the Bosso family and some sections of the media, will be another man to watch this afternoon.
Pasuwa said this concerning Mambare: “We have told the youngster to be strong because we know they (Bosso supporters) are going to boo him. I have told him that playing for Dynamos has always been associated with pressure.
“I have told him he will be against thousands of supporters and he cannot answer them all by reacting to what they will be saying from the stands. He should just answer them on the field of play. I have told him to be strong and to show character.
“This is the same message I have told all the other players.”
Dynamos have roped in Ronald Chitiyo from Monomotapa, Walter Mukanga and Buffaloes’ Themba Ndlovu.
So far no prize money has been tabled for the tournament, but the clash gives the two sides good preparation for the league which starts in a fortnight.