Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE celebrates her 41st independence anniversary on Sunday and although festivities have been toned down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional football giants Dynamos and Highlanders will face off at the National Sports Stadium in Harare to mark Uhuru Day.
The game is significant in that it will mark the return of local football after a year of inactivity due to the national lockdown enforced by the pandemic, and what a better way of ushering in the return of the beautiful game than an exhibition game between the country’s big two on Uhuru Day for the Independence Cup.
Dynamos didn’t play any competitive game last year, while Highlanders tested action in their 0-2 loss to FC Platinum being the only clubs that participated in the Castle Challenge Cup in March before Covid-19 reared its ugly head, forcing the suspension of all sporting activities.
There has been excitement about the return of sport, with football’s resumption coming in phases, which will first see the Premier Soccer
League and women’s topflight resuming their programmes.
The PSL kicks off proper on the weekend of May 15-16.
The Independence Cup final will provide a glimpse of how football will be conducted and give the PSL pointers on what to incorporate.
With President Mnangagwa warning the nation that they should not be tempted to form gatherings to celebrate the 41st Independence anniversary, the DeMbare-Bosso clash will provide consolation for everyone that will follow events of the day on television.
But with no fans or spectators at the stadium, the atmosphere will most certainly be subdued and different, if not strange for the players, who will be playing their first competitive match to the echoes of their own voices.
Over the years, the Independence Cup has always attracted bumper crowds, with spectators either rallying behind Bosso or Dynamos, while neutrals thronged the venue to enjoy some good football exhibition in an electrifying atmosphere.
The crowd spurs on players, and with Bosso-DeMbare clashes always bringing the best out of the two sets of players, how they perform without fans will most certainly be a precursor of the 2021 league season.
The players will have to create their own electrifying atmosphere with the help of fans, whom they have previously depended on for motivation.
The has also been the platform for the two teams to exhibit their new signings, but because there was no action for the whole of last year, the game will be used to gauge how the year long hiatus has affected each player.
The two sides were among the last clubs to conduct the mandatory Covid-19 tests that allow teams to resume training, with Dynamos starting their session on Saturday, while Highlanders kicked-off their preparations on Sunday.
That the clash comes just a week after resumption of training should not steal the glamour from the clash, as both sets of teams will be playing for pride, with new and old players eager to show that they have what it takes to put on their clubs’ jerseys.
The victors also have to figure out a way of celebrating inside an empty stadium, as there’ll virtually be no one cheering them. — @ZililoR