The first installment of the 2016 Castle Lager Premier League Harare derby pitting archrivals Dynamos and Caps United is upon us and over the past couple of weeks, social media wars between the two camps’ diehard fans reached overload.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Back in the days when there was no social media, these were the moments when the two Zex Manatsa classics — Makepekepe Shaisa Mufaro and Tamirira Dynamos — would dominate the duke box in township bars, playing into the wee hours of the day.
The Dynamos-Caps United fixture is one that has always divided Harare into two halves — one blue and another green — since the late 1970s.
One of the oldest top flight rivalries in the country —like Liverpool and Everton’s Merseyside derby — it is always a fearsome contest, much like the Cairo derby that involves Al Ahly and Zamalek.
It is a rivalry fuelled by petty hatred, like the one between Turkey’s Istanbul foes, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. Sadly, however, the Harare derby has lost most of its glamour and spectacle over the years.
In recent years, never-ending feuds between the two teams’ supporters have seen the rival camps coin derogatory names for each other, with Dynamos fans calling Caps United “Dzetse” (bullfrog), while Dynamos is referred to as “Dzvinyu” (lizard) in the Caps united circles.
Veteran commentator and football analyst Charles Mabika reckons the fixture has repeatedly failed to live up to the hype for the past decade and half, while the quality of football has deteriorated.
“I’m surprised that there has been such a hype for the past three weeks, but for one and a half decades this derby has not lived up to its hype,” Mabika said.
“In my own opinion, the standard of football is deteriorating because we are losing a high number of quality players to other countries every year.
“It was never about current form and you would never guess the outcome. Form counted for nothing but interestingly of late, form counts for so much and it looks like Caps United are favourites to bag this one. But Dynamos have always proved that they are most dangerous in the Harare derby when they are off-form.”
A total of 25 league titles are shared between the two teams — with the Glamour Boys claiming 21 of those, while Caps only has four.
While Dynamos may have the bragging rights in the league, Caps United were once dubbed the Cup Kings and always have the propensity to edge their city rivals in cup fixtures.
Makepekepe legend Carlos “Murehwa” Max also shared his sentiments on the epic duel between the two sworn enemies.
“The Harare derby has been one of the biggest games in Zimbabwean football. It was the match that could make or break a player’s career because either you couldn’t handle the big crowds or like some of us, the big crowds gave you high motivation to do well,” the former Warriors wing back said.
“The personal rivalry among players is also a big factor, because you get to do the taunting, but I don’t really think the rivalry is still as fierce. Back then, it was unheard of for Dynamos players to join Caps and vice versa, so the rivalry spirit for the teams was intense, whereas nowadays it seems the norm players crossing the floor.”
Max was a hero of many Cup finals for Caps United in the late 80s until the mid-90s when the Green Machine earned a reputation as Zimbabwe’s Cup Kings.
Former Dynamos captain Memory “Mwendamberi” Mucherahowa thinks that both sets of players no longer understand the magnitude of the rivalry in the Harare derby.
“Those are the two biggest teams in Harare, so besides the three points on stake, winning the match alone is a great achievement,” said Mucherahowa.
“But the problem nowadays is that most of these players are coming from elsewhere and they are not aware of the magnitude of the rivalry between these clubs.
“During our time, you could not go out in town or in the streets the whole of that week if you lost the derby. We would try not to see especially those friends from Caps United whom we often mingled with, like the late Never Chiku who was from my neighbourhood, as well as my old friend Joe Mugabe.”
For supporters, it has always been about the outcome more than the quality of football on display, but some supporters feel something has changed about this fixture.
Staunch Dynamos follower Admire “Teacher we Dembare” Kandeya said he thought the fixture was no longer as huge, but he believes beating Caps United is a culture for his team.
“It is true that the derby is not as huge as it used to be in the past. Nowadays it’s just the hype on social media, but in the field of play, it’s not really giving us the best,” Kandeya said. “This is still the best game in the country no doubt, especially because both teams are based in Harare and the bulk of the fans are also here.”
He added: “In this game, form does not matter. Even if we are playing for a pencil or a pen against Caps United, everybody knows we do not lose to them. Caps United always win before the game is played, but after 90 minutes they will be crying.”
Elijah Farai “Zimupostori” Mutasa — who has supported the Green Machine since 1989 — testified that crowds at the Harare derby had dwindled, but lauded Dynamos fans, who he said have become less violent in recent years.
“The Caps-Dynamos match remains the biggest match on the football calendar. What has changed is the behaviour of Dynamos fans because they used to be violent and when they lost, you would hear that a fan had died,” said Zimupostori.
“Also, it [the derby] is no longer attracting as many fans as before, I don’t know why. At the moment things are going well in our camp and we should be able to beat Dynamos 3-1 because they are clearly struggling.”
Interestingly, Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe dismissed the notion that the Harare derby has lost its glamour.
“The derby hasn’t lost anything, that’s just a perception. If anything, I think it has gained so much,” said the CAPS United gaffer.
“When we were playing, this match never used to draw as much attention as it is now. As far as I’m concerned, this match has not lost its value.”