Highlanders and Caps United â€“â€“ two of Zimbabwe’s big three, meet at a time when both clubs are going through hard times at the Borbourfields on Sunday.
The Premier Soccer League reaches the half-way stage with the two giants struggling, a situation worsened by the fine form being enjoyed by log leaders Dynamos â€” Highlandersâ€™ and Capsâ€™ common enemy.
Yet it is not all gloom despite alarmists at both clubs already clamouring for coaches to be fired.
The 2009 season is a tight contest. Dynamos only lead second placed Gunners by two points, and the scenario is such that a team can rise from the bottom of the table to take the title at the end of the season.
Yet, again, it cannot be wished away that Sundayâ€™s match is a clash of two under-fire coaches who were both players of note for their respective clubs.
If Bosso coach Madinda Ndlovu loses to Caps, alarm bells will ring louder at Emagumeni.
As for Lloyd Chitembwe, his relationship with the club fans is becoming more and more uneasy following a burst-up with the fans after the 0-2 defeat to Shooting Stars last Saturday.
Chitembwe was reported to have gestured with his middle finger at a section of the Caps crowd which was insulting him in anger after Esau Amisi struck twice in the last 11 minutes to plunge Caps into chaos.
Highlanders and Capsâ€™ last meeting at BF further fuels the likelihood of another braising encounter. There were some ugly scenes which forced police to use water cannons to contain Caps supporters who were unhappy with some disputable officiating.
â€œThe team has not been getting good results of late but I can assure you that the guys are ready for Caps,â€ said Highlanders captain Zephaniah Ngodzo.
â€œThe fans must understand that at some point any team goes through a difficult phase. Yes, itâ€™s very unfortunate that weâ€™ve been dropping points against the so-called small teams. The fans should therefore bear with us. Results will come.â€
Coach Ndlovu has been heavily criticised for being experimental in his rebuilding exercise. Ngodzo said the young players would not be intimidated on Sunday.
â€œThe playersâ€™ confidence is growing with each passing game,â€ he said. â€œThe boys are getting mentally and physically tougher. We learnt a lesson against Dynamos (when Highlanders lost 4-0 at Rufaro) and we will not have another humiliation.â€
Ngodzo, meanwhile, must pass a fitness test to play on Sunday after taking a knock in the 2-2 draw with Highway in Mutare last Saturday.Â Â
The roving left back joins an injury list that includes his young brother Joel Ngodzo and former skipper Gilbert Banda.
Ngodzoâ€™s opposite number, Nyasha Mukumbi, spoke of high anticipation for the match in the Caps camp.
â€œThe match on Sunday is one of those you wouldnâ€™t want to miss,â€ said the United captain. â€œEveryone is looking forward to it. We expect nothing short of three points.â€
Weekend PSL fixtures:
Tomorrow: Bantu Rovers v Hwange (Barbourfields), Monomotapa v Black Rhinos (Rufaro), Shooting Stars v Motor Action (Gwanzura).
Sunday: Highlanders v Caps (Barbourfields), Dynamos v Highway (Rufaro), Underhill v Sundowns (Mucheke), Eagles v Lengthens (Rudhaka).
Monday: Kiglon v Gunners (Rufaro).
BY HENRY MHARA