By Eddie Chikamhi
CAPS United ………….(0) 1
Dynamos ………………(0) 1
HARARE – Mark Harrison was a dejected man after his bid to become the first CAPS United coach in six years to beat Dynamos in a league game was spoiled when the Glamour Boys forced a share of the spoils through a disputed penalty at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The Englishman questioned referee Thabani Bamala’s decision to award their bitter rivals a penalty towards the hour mark after Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo went down in the box and cried foul that he had been touched by goalkeeper Victor Twaliki.
Malawian international, George Nyirenda, had put the Green Machine in the driving seat with a rising shot in the 56th minute — the first goal that Dynamos have conceded in the league in four games.
It took 326 minutes for someone to finally find a way past the DeMbare defence and Nyirenda, playing a midfield role, was the man who beat Artwell Mukandi after fine work by the Green Machine in a second half that, in bits and pieces, had the explosive moments one expects in a Derby.
The first half was such a big yawn that the less we say about it, the better.
But CAPS United’s lead barely lasted five minutes as DeMbare quickly hit back from the spot through Qadr Amini in a match that terribly fell short of expectations, especially coming in the backdrop of a chaotic week for the Green Machine family.
The match lacked the spark one expects in such a high-profile game and it will go down as one of the worst Harare Derbies of all-time.
CAPS United players last week boycotted their match against How Mine in protest over unpaid dues and the coach had to spend the Easter weekend trying to get them in the right frame of mind ahead of the Derby.
But the teams looked lethargic and they struggled on a surface that was not easy to play on after the rains that pounded the capital.
CAPS United, to their credit, will get the bragging rights that they became the first team to breach the DeMbare defence in the four opening games of the season when Nyirenda controlled the ball in the penalty area and somehow scooped his shot home despite the close attention of two defenders.
The goal ignited wild celebrations among the Makepekepe faithful as it looked like CAPS United were now on the way to finally break the jinx.
The Green Machine last beat Dynamos in April 2009.
But DeMbare refused to throw in the towel and fought back as they took the game back to their opponents.
A fatal defensive error by Stephen Makatuka, who tried to play with the ball instead of just clearing it away from the danger, provided the Glamour Boys with the opportunity they needed for their fight back.
Interestingly, Makatakuta was one of the four players fingered as ring leaders when CAPS United players forced the abandonment of their league match against How Mine after falling out with their leadership.
He was one of the biggest losers as a South African Premiership side, which had shown interest in his services, had sent some scouts to make a final assessment in Bulawayo and, if they were at the National Sports Stadium yesterday, they will have second thoughts after his bizarre mistake.
DeMbare capitalised on that and in a swift attack, the Glamour Boys were given the benefit of the doubt by referee Bamala after Chitiyo went down inside the box, under challenge from Twaliki.
The decision did not go down well with the CAPS United coach as he argued there was no contact between the players when the last man in defence — Twaliki — stretched his arm to stop the midfielder.
Bamala, though, was right to show Twaliki a yellow instead of red card as Chitiyo was running away from goal when the foul was committed.
Harrison said it was two points dropped instead of a point gained as he felt they had Dynamos in the bag after scoring first.
“To be honest I feel like we have just lost the game. When we got the goal we were in control, we were on top and then the referee gave a penalty decision and I don’t know where he got that from,” said Harrison.
“The keeper got his hand on the ball and it was not a penalty. I think he just panicked. Maybe he thought if he doesn’t give the penalty he will get lynched.
“To draw with a decision like that really hurts me but we are still unbeaten. Forget about the How Mine thing, we are still unbeaten. And I want to say that the How Mine coach (Luke Masomere) thinks he can beat us (6-0), he is dreaming. He has been smoking palm tree I think.”
But DeMbare could have scored another goal, and an early contender for the Goal of the Season, in the 80th minute when substitute, Oscar Machapa, beat his markers and made a diagonal run before unleashing a powerful shot that crashed against the crossbar.
Despite dropping points for the first time, Dynamos coach David Mandigora said the draw was a fair result.
“It happens in football, we just lost concentration and it was always coming. I knew we were going to concede at some point because you can’t go for the whole season without conceding.
“Now we have to forget about this game and focus on the forthcoming assignments,” said Mandigora.
The DeMbare coach said the penalty was the right call.
“I thought we got the penalty because Ronald was in scoring position when he was upended. Probably the draw was a fair result,” he said.
Rodreck Mutuma was kept on the bench for the bulk of the game and almost stole a winner for his side with a poacher’s strike that just sailed over.
Leonard Tsipa, preferred as the target man, worked hard for his team but was lucky to escape with only a yellow for a dangerous two-footed lunge on Sydney Linyama.
DeMbare dropped into second place on the log table, on 10 points with Triangle, who have a better goal difference sitting at the summit.
CAPS United have seven points.
CAPS United: V. Twaliki, H. Zvirekwi, R. Pfumbidzai, S. Makatuka, C. Munzabwa, G. Nyirenda (G. Phiri, 64th min), D. Mukandi, M. Muchenje, C. Machisi, Z. Bizeki (T. Mahori, 34th min) L. Tsipa (R. Mutuma, 82nd min)
Dynamos: A. Mukandi, G. Murwira, Q. Amini (B. Moyo, 87th min), S. Linyama, A. Mbara, S. Alimenda, K. Bulaji (O. Machapa, 57th min), W. Mukanga (B. Amidu, 65th min), E. Opoku, R. Chitiyo, S. Nhivi