THE long-awaited Harare Derby is set to return to Harare this weekend as Dynamos keep their fingers crossed to get the greenlight to host their traditional crosstown rivals CAPS United at the National Sports Stadium.
Giants Dynamos, weary of travelling to Bulawayo for their home games at Barbourfields since the giant stadium closed for renovations two months ago, have been pushing for the return to Harare.
The Harare Derby, for the first time in history, was set to take place outside Harare due to the current situation with the stadiums in Harare.
But Dynamos last week wrote to the Sports and Recreation Commission and are hoping for a positive response before the end of the week.
Dynamos vice-chairman Vincent Chawonza yesterday told the Zimpapers Sports that the SRC acknowledged receipt of their letter and indicated considerable ground had been covered in the renovations.
The stadium inspection committee is expected to run the rule before reopening the gates.
“It’s not yet confirmed but what we did after returning from Bulawayo last week was that we wrote to the SRC inquiring about our return to the National Sports Stadium and they indicated the ground was due for inspection.
“So we are praying that the Harare Derby be played in Harare because it’s also good for our supporters and for us as a team, financially.
“We have been travelling a lot week in and week out. We are happy our fans in Bulawayo made us feel at home at Barbourfields. The supporters have been coming in good numbers and supporting us and the boys were enjoying playing there,” said Chawonza.
The Premier Soccer League decided to vacate the National Sports Stadium in July to allow authorities to renovate the broken-down toilets and the water reticulation system.
The venue had become overwhelmed by overuse due to the stadium crisis in Harare.
However, the Sports Commission has been working behind the scenes to make the National Sports available for domestic football in the shortest possible time.
An official yesterday could not give the time-lines but promised an update tomorrow on the state of the ground as well as DeMbare’s request.
“We are working behind the scenes to organise the inspection. We will give an update when there is something tangible,” said the official.
The reverse fixture of the Derby was played at the National Sports Stadium, with DeMbare winning 2-0. DeMbare vice chairman Chawonza yesterday said they will also make inquiries on Rufaro, which remains their preferred home ground.
Rufaro has been closed for four years after it became worn out due to lack of maintenance. However, it has been undergoing renovations for the last few months.
“Rufaro is central to our fans and very convenient. It is still our number one choice home venue followed by the National Sports Stadium.
“So, we are planning to engage the authorities behind the stadium as well as paying a courtesy call to the new Mayor to find out his plans since there have been changes in the Council leadership.
“Council had promised us that the first Derby would be played there, and it didn’t happen. We will not hesitate to jump over to Rufaro once it is available. It means a lot to us as a club,” said Chawonza.
Dynamos and CAPS United have already put in place plans to hold a joint road show ahead of the Harare Derby.