All eyes on Rooney

ronald chitiyo

Ronald Chitiyo

Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
RONALD Chitiyo has dominated the headlines but the diminutive Dynamos magician is keeping his feet firmly on the ground ahead of the Harare Derby against bitter rivals CAPS United at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.The Glamour Boys talisman, whose nickname is Rooney, has been the man-of-the-moment at the champions since he returned to the Glamour Boys ranks after delaying a scheduled move to South Africa.

Two goals in as many matches, including a beauty that powered Dynamos to victory against tough newboys Dongo Sawmill at Rufaro on Good Friday, have fired the champions to the top of the league standings and Chitiyo has had a monopoly of the back page headlines.

The countdown to the Harare Derby has been spoiled, in recent days, by the decision by CAPS United players to force the abandonment of their league match against How Mine at Luveve on Thursday after another fallout with their management over payments.

Had the Green Machine played and won that game, it would have meant that the capital’s two biggest football clubs would have gone head-to-head in the Harare Derby, with the same number of points, setting the stage for an explosive tie.

The CAPS United officials yesterday confirmed their players were ready and eager to bounce back from last week’s chaos and the match would go ahead as scheduled this afternoon.

Chitiyo, who has scored crucial goals to give Dynamos a solid foundation in defence of their title, will definitely be one person the CAPS United players will be keeping track of this afternoon.

The midfielder scored the decisive goals in the last two games to give Dynamos identical 1-0 wins over Chapungu and Dongo Sawmill.

DeMbare have won all three matches to remain the only team with a clean record.

“It feels great to be getting the goals for my team,” Chitiyo told The Herald yesterday.

“But I believe it’s all because of teamwork. We play as a team and when we win we win as a team. It’s encouraging the way we have started the season and we need to remain focused.

“We have played CAPS United in the pre-season and they appear to be a strong team so we are looking forward to a competitive game.  Derbies are always difficult to predict but it will be good if we can maintain our winning streak.”

There were doubts whether the match will be played after the CAPS United players refused to fulfil their last fixture against How Mine at Luveve last Thursday.

Normalcy, however, returned to the side over the weekend as the players reported for duty to prepare for the high-profile game after being paid their   salaries.

The Green Machine yesterday announced they have raised the gate charges for today’s game with the cheapest ticket pegged at $5 for the Rest of Ground, $10 for VIP stand and $20 for VVIP.

Club spokesperson Joyce Kapota, yesterday said they have put the turmoil behind them and encouraged their supporters to come and back their team.

“We would like to confirm that tomorrow’s Derby is going ahead. We’re happy that we are past the quagmire that we had found ourselves in and the boys are raring to go.

“Morale is very high in the camp and the boys cannot wait for tomorrow,” said Kapota.

Green Machine coach Mark Harrison had a tough job at the weekend to motivate his players and get them focused on the game.

Harrison, however, was happy with the response he got from his players who resumed training on Friday and also trained yesterday. Makepekepe are looking to field their best team today with key players like Hardlife Zvirekwi, Moses Muchenje, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Stephen Makatuka, Carlton Munzabwa and Leonard Tsipa expected to play a part.

CAPS won their opening two matches against Whawha and FC Platinum but they could lose points on a 3-0 walkover scoreline to How Mine following last week’s incident.

“I know our supporters were disappointed with what happened. It was unfortunate but they also need to understand that this is their employment so they also need to be rewarded,” said Harrison.

“I spoke to the players and anyway it’s now behind us. I have had a full squad in training. There are no injuries and we are looking to bounce back from what happened on Thursday.

“At least we had a couple of days to talk about it and to sort things out. It’s now looking fine and the boys are in shape. So we are hoping to pick up from where we left in the game against FC Platinum. I don’t think what happened will take away all the work that we have been doing.

“The guys are eager, we are going out there to win. We are going to war, simple! We will not take any prisoners. They (Dynamos) have had three straight wins, they haven’t conceded a goal, and they are doing quite well.

“So, we are expecting total war.”

The DeMbare camp, however, indicated they will not be fooled by the problems facing their rivals.

Dynamos captain Augustine Mbara said their hard-fought victory over Dongo Sawmill last Friday was a huge boost ahead of the Derby.

“This victory (over Dongo Sawmill) is a huge motivation for us as a team and I think we should just keep focused and motivating each other because we have a big game ahead.

“Obviously, the Derby will be well fiercely contested as usual. I don’t think the strike, or the problems, at CAPS United will spoil the game,” said Mbara.

Mbara is a key in the Glamour Boys defence which is the only one yet to concede a goal after three games this season.

Dynamos coach David Mandigora has assembled a closely-knit defensive unit which has been difficult to unlock.

Mandigora, who won the 1997 championship with Dynamos, has also been avoiding tampering with his starting line-up.


Today: Dongo Sawmill v Triangle (Vengere), Chicken Inn v Whawha (Luveve), CAPS United v Dynamos (NSS), Tsholotsho v Hwange (White City), Chapungu v ZPC Kariba (Ascot)

Wednesday: FC Platinum v Flame Lily (Mandava).