The reverse fixture was only played for 40 minutes before Highlanders fans took matters into their own hands after a seemingly offside goal was allowed to stand at Barbourfields Stadium in May.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The match was abandoned with the teams deadlocked at one goal apiece, but Dynamos were awarded three points while the Bulawayo giants were fined $4 000.
Such is the volatile and antagonistic nature of a match pitting two of the country’s biggest clubs.
At the moment, the two teams are going through contrasting fortunes — with DeMbare in fine form while the wheels appear to be coming off at Bosso.
This is a match that could make Highlanders completely forget a bad season they are having should they triumph and which could easily spoil Dynamos’ campaign, even if they were to end as champions.
The Lloyd Mutasa-coached hosts have hit a purple patch, which has seen them win their last seven matches in the league. More frightening for their rivals is the rate at which they are scoring goals, having netted 15 goals during the same period at a rate of 2,5 goals per game.
Dynamos have not lost a match since July 26 when they crumbled to a 3-1 loss to FC Platinum in Zvishavane.
On the other hand, Highlanders are looking forward to their first set of maximum points in six matches. In the last seven matches, the Bulawayo giants have won once, drawn once and lost five times.
Erol Akbay’s men will be out to avoid a fifth straight loss this afternoon.
Akbay’s last supper?
Akbay’s relationship with the club’s executive was on the spotlight last week after the Dutch coach accused his bosses of lack of organisation capacity following the team’s defeat to Chapungu last Sunday.
Highlanders acting chairman Modern Ngwenya also made counter-accusations against the coach, who was later forced to apologise for his outburst.
This appears to have been the final straw and highly-placed sources at Highlanders told Standardsport that Akbay could be sacked on Monday should Bosso lose to Dynamos today.
Akbay announced last month that he would be leaving Highlanders at the end of the month and since then, results have been elusive for the country’s oldest club.
Club chiefs, initially unhappy about Akbay’s timing in publicising his departure, have allegedly run out of patience with the Dutchman and the Dynamos match poses the perfect stage to pull the trigger.
Ahead of the crucial encounter, the under-fire Akbay who led his side to a league double over their nemesis last season, believes DeMbare’s current form does not count in big matches.
“It’s the biggest game in this country. Even if we have lost 10 games in a row in this kind of game, you always see a different team altogether. You saw that last year; Dynamos were losing a lot of matches, but when they played us they were a different team and gave us a fight,” he said.
“This kind of game you can train and do all you want but it just comes down to who wants to win more. It’s your attitude and how badly you want to work for each other, as well as how badly you want to score goals that matters.”
Mutasa’s cup finals
Akbay’s counterpart Mutasa is a man enjoying his coaching job and relishes another “cup final” for the Glamour Boys in his quest for a maiden league title.
“Every team in this league plays its best football against Dynamos. So, it’s more like another cup final for us and we will try our best to get maximum points,” he told Standardsport.
“It’s good for us that we play them when we are going through this rich vein of form and we are surely going to give our best. Hopefully, our best will be good enough to give us maximum points.”
The league’s top goal scorer Christian “Nyakanyaka” Epoupa will be looking to continue his goal-scoring spree after he sunk CAPS United with a brace last week.
Dynamos welcome back two of their defensive players, Obey Mwerahari and Marshal Machazane while Carlos Rusere and Musa Madhiri remain injured.
Star defender Tendai Ndlovu is also out for the visitors due to injury.
Head-to-head stats (since 2013)
2017: Highlanders 0-3 Dynamos
2016: Highlanders 2-1 Dynamos, Dynamos 0-2 Highlanders
2015: Highlanders 1-1 Dynamos, Dynamos 3-2 Highlanders
2014: Highlanders 0-1 Dynamos, Dynamos 1-0 Highlanders
2013: Highlanders 0-1 Dynamos, Dynamos 1-1 Highlanders