ZVISHAVANE – Shabanie Mine and FC Platinum are doing everything to keep their small town together ahead of today’s potentially explosive Zvishavane derby at Maglas Stadium.
With all due respect to the Harare derby between Dynamos and CAPS United which is one of the flagship fixtures in the Castle Lager Premiership, today’s match is way bigger for Zvishavane.
Here, football is a religion with the bulk of the population adherents of Shabanie which was formed in 1914.
FC Platinum was only formed in 1995 and since then there is no love lost between the two sets of supporters.
The rivalry escalated when the platinum miners were promoted into the top flight in 2011.
Since then, when the two teams clash, it is a spectacle with the two sets of fans painting the town green and claret.
After a brief spell in Division One, Shabanie are back in the Premiership and today they hope to continue with their streak of getting good results against the big hitters in the league.
The Chinda Boys have already beaten Highlanders and drawn with both CAPS United and Dynamos
With expectations high on both ends, peace is at stake as an electric atmosphere has been pervading the mining town for days now and both teams are appealing for calm.
“We are a family; we live in the same community. This is just football. It is important that we manage our emotions so that it unites us further,” Shabanie Mine coach Takesure Chiragwi said at a joint press conference.
“We don’t want violence. We wouldn’t want people to be afraid to come to our games.”
FC Platinum assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe also appealed for calm.
“Football is a family sport. It’s good for the Zvishavane people and we want all our teams’ fans to also bring their families… the rivalry should just be for 90 minutes,” Sweswe said.
Adding that both teams could reap huge financial rewards from the derby if the rivalry does not degenerate into violence.
“If there is violence in our games people will not come. Many teams the world over live off the money fans pay to watch their games. It should be a derby that benefits football in this town.”
FC Platinum have a better head-to-head record over their neighbours who last won against them in 2013.
“In football there are no small boys. We are approaching this game as any other. Shabanie are a very good side and we have been preparing with the full intensity that the match deserves,” Sweswe said.
Chiragwi said: “There is no coach who can prepare to lose… The most important objective of our training is to play well and collect maximum points.”