Stage set for potentially explosive Harare derby?

Zimbabwean football fans cheer on their team Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Dynamos go into Sunday's clash against bitter rivals CAPS United in buoyant mood, with a five match winning streak igniting hopes of an improbable 22nd title in the Zimbabwe Premier League.

Yet Lloyd Mutasa's men will need to be at their best to emerge victorious from a Harare derby that has often proved unpredictable.

Besides, CAPS are themselves on the cusp of a fine run after collecting 14 points out of the last possible 18 to reenergise a campaign which had looked to be veering off the rails, and the stage is perfectly set for a titanic showdown at the National Sports Stadium.

Dynamos sit third in the log standings with 45 points, three behind log leaders Chicken Inn, who have played two games more. Meanwhile CAPS, looking for a way up into the top four, have little margin for error following their midseason implosion.

The defending champions, languishing in 10th with 28 points, however still have four games in hand after accumulating a fixture backlog following their CAF Champions League exertions.

The two adversaries served up a breathless six-goal thriller in their last competitive clash last season, with CAPS emerging from three goals down in the last eight minutes to rescue a draw in possibly the league's greatest comeback story in recent times.

Such fits however come once in a lifetime and the outcome of Sunday's battle could hinge on whether the CAPS defence will prove solid enough to repel a Dynamos strike-force that has been ruthless for much of the season.

Indeed, the quality of the Dynamos forward line has been the single most significant factor behind the team's impressive transformation from early season strugglers to genuine title contenders.

Dynamos are currently the league's second most prolific team with 36 goals from 21 games and coach Lloyd Mutasa, who came to within inches of the exit door as his team lurched from one disaster to another early in the campaign, insists this is in line with the club's own philosophy.

"At Dynamos, we have always said that we are an attacking team and we are not the kind of team that can sit back and expect to defend the whole 90 minutes," he told KweséESPN.

"We are an attacking team and we always want to take the game to the opposition. That's who we are as Dynamos and I know CAPS United is a good side and they have a solid defence as well. So it will be interesting on Sunday, ... I am sure the fans will get their money's worth."

It will not be easy for opposing coach Lloyd Chitembwe to figure out exactly were trouble might emanate from.

Cameroonian hit-man Christian Ntouba is the spearhead of the Dynamos frontline with eight goals, while his six assists show there is also a selfless dimension to his play.

Yet this Dynamos project is far from being a one man endeavour, with the charts showing that Denver Mukamba has scored six and laid on a further seven to silence his many detractors.

The man of the moment though is skipper Ocean Mushure, a natural left-back who has reinvented himself as an attacking midfielder to good effect with six goals to his name.

Then again there is the small matter of dribbling wizard Cleopas Kapupurika, who may not have accumulated the numbers which his enterprising play deserves just yet, but has proved decisive in drawing defenders out of position to open up spaces for teammates.

Mutasa is elated that the 21-year-old FC Platinum juniors product is finally living up to promise after a slow start.

"It's not easy to just come to Dynamos and blossom ... these youngster need time to get used to the institution but we are happy that at least now he (Kapupurika) is beginning to show his mettle," he said.

CAPS have however played well enough in recent matches to suggest they have the capacity to avoid making this a lopsided derby. In fact, they can even fancy their chances of causing an upset.

If nothing else, the CAPS' victories over fourth-placed FC Platinum (2-1) and red hot Ngezi Platinum (3-0) have restored their self-belief as they are good enough to overrun any local opposition.

Many of the players who had looked demoralised and disinterested all season have suddenly shown renewed vigour, and the manner in which the CAPS defence frustrated free scoring Ngezi enroute the famous win was marvel to watch.

Chitembwe will however have to do without chief striker Chungwa, who is suspended after accumulating three yellow cards.

New man John Zhuwawo will lead the attack with menacing winger Phineas Bamusi looking to stretch the Dynamos defence out wide.

The return from injury of midfielder Tafadzwa Rusike should further boost CAPS as they look to maintain their fine form going into the business end of the season.