The Sunday Mail
Langton Nyakwenda and Don Makanyanga
THE last time Archieford Gutu featured in a Harare Derby, he fought in the CAPS United corner as Makepekepe beat Dynamos 1-0 on May 1 2016 to break a seven-year jinx in front of a sell-out crowd at Rufaro.
He came on as a 63rd minute replacement for Moses Muchenje and 14 minutes later, CAPS grabbed the winner through Dominic Chungwa, who scored in front of the City End that normally houses the Makepekepe fans.
Five years before, Gutu had also featured for the Dynamos class of 2011 that completed a rare league double over their arch-rivals, under the tutelage of Lloyd Mutasa. Mutasa had assembled a powerful machine whose components included the likes of Denver Mukamba, Devon Chafa, Thomas Magorimbo and Tawanda Muparati. The 25-year-old Gutu is back at DeMbare, after a brief stint in Sweden, and could play a part in today’s 82nd edition of the famous Harare Derby after his papers were processed last Friday.
Could the former Warriors midfielder’s derby charm work in favour of the blue half of the city this afternoon, as Dynamos host CAPS in a potentially explosive encounter at Rufaro?
While there are serious concerns over Gutu’s match fitness levels, there’s also a high chance that coach Tonderai Ndiraya will at some point during the match throw in the former IFK Varnamo player.
“We will see if we play him or not because of some fitness concerns but he (Gutu) is immensely talented. He knows how to handle himself in these kinds of situations and he can bring in a different dimension to our game,” Ndiraya said.
Gutu returns to Dynamos to find a completely changed dressing room from the one he worked with in 2011 when DeMbare completed a double over CAPS en-route to the first of their four straight league titles.
“I am really happy to be back, to regroup with the guys. Of course I miss those guys, Chafa and Denver (Mukamba), but now I am with a new group, trying to build something,” Gutu told The Sunday Mail Sport.
“It’s always a great feeling playing in a derby, every game is important but a derby is worth more than three points.
“Of course I may not be 100 percent fit but I have been working hard and I am getting there. The squad is looking good, we have to help the team achieve its goals,” said Gutu.
On 19 points, seven behind Makepekepe, DeMbare are aware that a win today could see them narrowing the gap between themselves and their rivals to just four as the season edges towards the halfway mark.
Ndiraya has demanded a strong second half of the season and hope is abound at DeMbare following the arrival of Gutu, Simba Nhivi and Evans Katema during the mid-season transfer window.
“We will get somewhere as a team, this is not about Gutu, it’s about Dynamos. Fans should come in numbers, have fun and cheer every player on Sunday (today),” says Gutu.
Dynamos fans are also expecting something from Nhivi, a player who has played for both camps in the Harare Derby.
It was Nhivi’s solitary goal against Chapungu that sealed the Premiership title for CAPS at Ascot on November 26, 2016. That was their first championship in 11 years.
But today, the Pamushana High School product is fighting for a different cause.
A born again Christian, who is a member of the Zion Christian Church, Nhivi revealed he has been praying a lot for Dynamos and this derby.
“When you come to Dynamos, you don’t come to add numbers, you want to show some character on the pitch, you want to impress.
“I have been praying for Dynamos ever since I came back here. We want to win this game, these are big games. A derby always has pressure but one has to be composed and take it one step at a time.“This spirit in me tells me that I am a winner, I am sure that spirit will carry me into the derby.
“We know about them (CAPS), we know what to expect so it’s game on. Fans should come and cheer the team, not individuals. The coaches are always telling us to play as a team.
“At the end of the day we know that whatever comes, horses are prepared for war but victory belongs to God,” Nhivi said.
Both Dynamos and CAPS have three wins each from their last 10 meetings while four duels ended in stalemates.
Despite the hype that always follow a showdown between the eternal rivals, CAPS coach Lloyd Chitembwe is wary about the manner in which the gloss has been slowly fading from this derby.
Chitembwe believes the current crop of players have not been doing enough to meet the standards of the derby.
“The derby hasn’t lost its touch, the media has been hyping the match, the fans have been doing the same. However, the derby has lost its gloss on the field of play. The application on the field of play is not as that of the yesteryears, there is a huge difference,” said Chitembwe.
Despite having his reservations on the type of display being exhibited on the field, the CAPS gaffer is happy with the work ethic being shown by his troops ahead of today’s match.
“I am happy with the way the guys have been preparing for the match and I am pleased with the work ethic and attitude they have shown in training ahead of the match on Sunday.
“This fixture is special and we are good to go and ready for them,’ said Chitembwe.
CAPS will miss the services of left back Valentine Musarurwa after he was ruled out of action through injury. He is set to be replaced by former Dynamos defender Carlos Rusere.
“It’s worrying that Valentine will miss the game but I am also happy with Carlos, he comes in as a suitable replacement,’’ said Chitembwe.