EVERY time Dynamos and Highlanders clash, the match is always an explosive affair, and it seems the President’s Uhuru Cup this afternoon would not be any different despite the coronavirus having a huge say.
The local game has been on a year-long hiatus owing to the pandemic, which has impacted on the strength and conditioning of players.
However, both Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya and his Highlanders counterpart Mandla “Lulu’’ Mpofu have been in the game long enough — as players and coaches — to know what is always at stake when the two giants square off.
hey are both expecting a tough match when the two sides meet at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon under the new normal.
It is the first time that a Dynamos and Highlanders showdown will be played before an empty stadium in the long history of the rivalry between the two giants.
Yet, ironically, the encounter will mark 41 years of Zimbabwe’s Independence.
“Bragging rights are there; we would not want to lose to Highlanders, especially since the game is going to be played at the National Sports Stadium. The players know that this is more than a game,” said Ndiraya.
Mpofu — who is currently on a rebuilding exercise at Highlanders, where he is set to blend youth and experience, what with the return of star midfielder Joel Ngodzo — said “there is no friendly match between Dynamos and Highlanders’’.
Defender Peter Muduhwa has also returned to Bosso after a short-lived dance with the Tanzanian top-flight.
Mpofu also has new arrivals such as Toto Banda, Prichard Mphelele, Linoth Chikuwa and Andrew Tandi at his disposal.
“Whether you have trained for one or two days, the pressure is always there when we take on Dynamos, and going into the match, the players and us as the technical team know what the Highlanders people want.
“We will be unveiling some of our new signings on Sunday and these are the guys who will be part of our team this season . . . this is a good opportunity for them,” said Mpofu.
With both teams going into the match after a week-long pre-season training, fitness levels have been the main concern for both coaches ahead of today’s match.
“We are on our fifth day (Friday) of training since the commencement of the pre-season training and we have a game on Sunday (today). It has been a crash programme and most of the players are not in shape, but that is not an excuse for not having good results,” said the Highlanders gaffer.
also admits it will be all systems go for the Glamour Boys.
“This game is always psychological, and the good thing is that we are meeting Highlanders with the same level of fitness, so there are no excuses for losing the match.
With the match marking the return of football in the country after more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, both Highlanders and Dynamos have appealed to the match organisers to use more substitutes during the match,” said Ndiraya.
“Physically, I must be very honest, we won’t be fit for the match. We all understand that you need a minimum of six weeks for you to be fit for the match, hence we are appealing to the organisers to have more players for the match.”
Dynamos fans will have an opportunity to have a look at new players such as former Hwange goalkeeper Taimon Mvula, Barnabas Mushunje, Tinotenda Chiunye, Lennox Mutsetse, Tanaka Chidhobha, Sylvester Appiah, Byron Madzokere and David Temwanjira.