WHILE probably it was an “easy call” for Highlanders in the quarter-finals of the Easycall Cup, it would not be a stroll in the park for the rejuvenated Bulawayo giants when they clash with Dynamos in the $533 000 semi-final encounter of the prestigious tournament at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
The match itself will definitely turn out to be a clash of gigantic proportions, through the sea of both the black and white fans of Highlanders and the blue half of the DeMbare followers who are expected to traditionally fill the Mpilo End Stand, and as well as the never-say-die attitude always witnessed in the field of play when the two teams clash at Emagumeni.
What makes this tie an intriguing affair is that the home side, Highlanders this year tasted how it feels to beat the Harare giants after a barren spell of many years.
This year on 2 August Highlanders achieved the “memorable’’ when they beat DeMbare in the final of the Zimbabwe National Army Charity Shield away from home at Rufaro.
The solitary goal that made the difference came from the boot of Obadiah Tarumbwa and the memorable achievement came when Highlanders were under the now fired mentor, Bongani Mafu.
One could have seen the celebrations then at the match venue in Harare and in the streets of the once City of Football Kings, Bulawayo. One could have been forgiven to think that Highlanders had won the most coveted trophy in the country, the PSL title that has eluded Bosso since 2006.
Ironically, the losing Dynamos coach was and is still Tonderaya Ndiraya. It was his first match in charge after he had taken over the reigns from David “Yogi” Mandigora.
Whichever way one looks at it the trend in this soccer-mad country, more so at the blue half of the capital and the mainly dominant black side of Bulawayo, the norm has been it is “treasonous” for Dynamos or Highlanders to lose games involving these widely followed teams in Zimbabwe.
The fact that it is only a game of football always appears to be lost.
What that means is that Ndiraya has to prove to the DeMbare fans that he has what it takes to maintain the Harare giants’ stranglehold over Bosso. It’s a second bite of the cherry for Ndiraya and he cannot afford to lose to Highlanders who can only recall beating them in a league encounter in 2006.
But Highlanders can also say we beat you in the Independence Cup final in 2011.
After that that famous ZNA Charity final this year, the belief in the Highlanders camp might be: let’s maintain the momentum.
And the architect of that victory has long gone, but one of the soldiers who was then in the trenches, Tarumbwa, remains in the battle front.
But under a new commander Amin “Cousin” Soma-Phiri.
The man, who is now well known for his Muslim hat known as “Topi” in Hindi/Urdu, has fairly done well since he took over from Mafu, and ably led Highlanders to a sixth finish position in the 16-team league.
The former Highlanders midfielder, who rarely celebrates when his side scores a goal, did well to dispatch FC Platinum away from home in the first round of this competition.
However, Soma-Phiri might struggle to plot the downfall of a team that has over the years turned BF into their home ground away from home. The Dynamos vociferous supporters that have turned the Mpilo End of Barbourfields a no go area for the opposing supporters, have proved, that they are the more reliable among the DeMbare supporters in the country.
The spirited never-say-die attitude of the Dynamos players at BF, coupled with their huge support base in this part of the country, the equally dominance of the Highlanders players, and the belief of their noisy supporters especially at the Soweto stand, points to an electric atmosphere at BF this afternoon.
Dynamos have already shown their dominance over the Bulawayo giants with a 3-2 victory in Harare and 0-0 result at today’s match, albeit in league outings.
But Bosso, Amahlolanyama, ithimu yezwe lonke, have shown that indeed it is ready to rise from the dead having registered that famous ZNA victory.