Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE big tie between rivals Highlanders and Dynamos which is on this Sunday has rekindled memories of the giants’ February 28, 1999 duel.
The clash has some similarities to this year’s blockbuster tie in that a key player had crossed the floor just like what happened this season.
Eighteen years ago, Highlanders’ key players, skipper Lovemore “MaGents” Ncube and key defender the late Lenny Gwata shocked Bosso supporters when they decided to join Dynamos.
Gwata’s move though wasn’t as “painful” as that of stylish midfielder Ncube.
The build-up to that 1999 match was hyped up by the scandalous move by the then Premier Soccer League secretary-general Leslie Gwindi to suspend Bosso’s key players, defender Dazzy Kapenya and hitman Zenzo Moyo, claiming they had each accumulated three yellow cards. Emotions within the Bulawayo giants’ camp and fans boiled over and it was therefore not surprising that Barbourfields Stadium was packed.
A record 39 366 fans paid to watch that epic encounter, more than Barbourfields Stadium’s sitting capacity of 34 000.
Highlanders defied Gwindi and fielded their stars for the match.
When match day came and referee Joseph Mususa blew to signal the start of the match, Highlanders, who were under coach Rahman Gumbo, went into overdrive, terrorising the Harare giants in every department, and it was no surprise when they went ahead through a beauty from Thabani Masawi after just 15 minutes.
Bear in mind that this was not an ordinary Dynamos side, but a star-studded machine that had come to Barbourfields Stadium sitting on a seven points lead on the league table and had gone for 19 matches without defeat.
Besides the two former Highlanders sons, DeMbare had the imposing Ernest Chirambadare in goal, their present coach Lloyd Mutasa, Harlington Shereni, Masimba Dinyero, Sandros Kumwenda, Chamu Musanhu and former Warriors’ coach Callisto Pasuwa, among an array of stars.
Bosso had Masawi, Abraham Mbambo, Bekithemba Ndlovu, Thulani “Biya” Ncube, Kapenya, Moyo, Alexander Phiri, Melusi Ndebele, American Kirk Friedricks and the late Amon Chimbalanga, who capped a man-of-the-match performance by denying then DeMbare penalty specialist Shereni from the spot after Biya had hacked down Kelvin Mushangazhike inside the box.
By then Bosso had cruised to a 2-0 lead, thanks to a 47th minute penalty conversion by Biya following a handball by Lovemore Ncube. Bosso went on to win the match 2-0.
Fast forward to this year, Highlanders have one Rodrick Mutuma, who was the darling of the Dynamos’ fans during Bosso’s miserable outings against the Harare giants in the past.
On Sunday, the lanky Mutuma will be putting on the black and white stripes, but will the match rise to the occasion and match that 1999 encounter?
Will Emagumeni be filled to capacity like that Sunday afternoon 18 years ago? Its only 48 hours to go.