Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya has predicted an emotional afternoon at Rufaro today when he leads the Zimbabwean giants against Sunday Chidzambwa’s ZPC Kariba in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
It would be a mentor versus student affair as it was Chidzambwa who promoted Ndiraya from Dynamos juniors into the first team way back in 1997.
Then an 18-year-old Upper-6 student at Prince Edward High School in Harare, Ndiraya was stunned when Chidzambwa summoned him to train with the first team.
“He was an intimidating figure,” Ndiraya said about Chidzambwa.
“I was merely an 18-year-old schoolboy and there is a huge profile person calling me to train with all those first team star players. It was unbelievable. You can imagine my excitement. I started playing for the reserve team and I was content with that. Back then just playing for Dynamos reserves was a huge achievement in itself because some would even spend three years lurking in the shadows of the first team.
“One would not just walk into the first team. But I found Chidzambwa to be a very friendly man and quite reserved. That picture of an intimidating man was immediately erased. That made my life easier together with other youngsters like Murape Murape and Desmond Maringwa.”
School commitments disrupted his graduation into the senior starting line-up, but his dream moment finally arrived the following year.
“I remember my first team debut came in 1998 against Black Rhinos in a league match. I came on as a substitute and I was deployed into the left-back position. Mhofu told me to just get onto the pitch and enjoy my game. He showed his belief in me and I started making cameo appearances,” said Ndiraya.
But the student has now grown into his own man and would be trading his tactical wits with his teacher today.
Making it an afternoon to cherish is that it is the first time ever for DeMbare legend Chidzambwa to face his former team as a coach. That Rufaro is hosting such a historical moment spices up everything.
Chidzambwa crafted several memorable moments at Rufaro both as a Dynamos player as well as coach.
The veteran coach is also making a return to the domestic Premiership for the first time after 16 years and interestingly, his student would be plunging into his fourth game as head coach of a top-flight league side.
“I am already failing to describe how I am going to feel when I meet Sunday. It is exciting. Remember this is the coach who indoctrinated me into the Dynamos system. I never imagined that such a moment would come in my life. I cannot believe that I am going to be meeting Mhofu,” said Ndiraya.
But the youthful coach has cautioned himself against sinking into this potentially emotional afternoon as it could make him lose his tactics.
It is Ndiraya’s first time to lead DeMbare in a league match having led them in three Cup games already, winning two and losing once to bitter rivals Highlanders.
“Yes, I am meeting Mhofu but there is a job that needs to be done. We want to win and the feeling would be good if we achieve that,” he said.
Interestingly, Dynamos have never beaten ZPC Kariba in a league match and Chidzambwa has never tasted victory in the four league matches he has been in charge of relegation-threatened ZPC Kariba, having so far endured three defeats and one draw.
ZPC Kariba recorded back-to-back victories over DeMbare last season under Saul Chaminuka, while this term’s reverse fixture ended 1-1 at Nyamhunga in June with Oliver Matava in charge of the Kariba-based outfit.
Chidzambwa watched the Nyamhunga confrontation from the terraces as he readied himself to assume the reins.
Elsewhere, Bongani Mafu and Luke Masomere collide at Barbourfields Stadium when Highlanders and How Mine meet for the second time inside seven days.