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Insidesport: Cry our beloved Harare derby

Caps United

THE silence that has accompanied the first edition of the 2023 Harare derby — that comes this afternoon —has brought with it a lot of questions but no answers.

Has this once massively popular match sunk so low to the extent that it deserves the cold water that has been poured over the first of the two 2023  editions ?

Has this match lost its old power of attraction to the extent that football fans would rather talk about the gone-by explosive matches they watched between Highlanders and Yadah than the game involving Makepekepe and Dembare?

Is this the same Harare derby that was made popular by the likes of Joel Shambo, Edward Katsvere, Stanley Ndunduma, Gift Mpariwa, Friday Phiri, Kembo Chunga and of course, the duels involving Shacky Tauro and Misheck Chidzambwa.

The same Harare derby, which in the past used to attracted 30 000 fans or more but is today struggling to bring together 7 000 fans from two of the most popular football teams in the country.

Even sports critic Alois Bunjira, a fighter and winner of some of the past Harare derbies observes that ‘it looks like the derby is not there at all this weekend.’

The truth, however, is that the silence has not been caused by the fact that Dynamos are not playing well and that their fans are too scared to bark, but other reasons.

Surely, there are many reasons as to why the derby has found itself in this position, one of which is the dwindling standards of the two teams and of the Premiership as a whole.

The other being the non-availability of skillful, if not crowd appealing players like Ndunduma, Farai Mbidzo, Moses Chunga, Kenneth Jere, and of late, Evans Gwekwerere; players who can force soccer fans to attend matches to see it for themselves.

Dynamos had discovered such a gem in this era in the form of Denver Mukamba, but the enterprising midfielder has lost his way since the day he left to try his luck in South Africa before coming back to the Premiership.

In that respect, it is up to the players who will enter the field of play today to convince or remind the football public — both in the stadium and at home — that the Harare derby is still alive, well, and kicking.

They should put up a show worth a spectacle that should be enough to draw back the crowds which have deserted the stadiums due to plummeting football standards not only in the derby but also in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League in general.

Football in the Premiership at $2 is not all that expensive and one is forced to think that there is something that is chasing the fans away that has nothing to do with the expenses involved.

The Harare derby and the Battle For Zimbabwe between Highlanders and Dynamos are the mirror in which Zimbabwean football is judged and with the Battle For Zimbabwe coming later, the Harare derby should be the starting point in proving that our football is on its way back to the good old 80s and 90s days.

The past four seasons or so, the Harare derbies have been of poor standards and one hopes that the one at the National Sports Stadium — this afternoon — will be one to remember not for its kick-and- run football, but for its attractive short passing game.

This silence should come to an end and fans should once again start talking good about Zimbabwean football.

For your comments, views and suggestions mkariati@gmail.com or WhatsApp on 0773 266 779.

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