MAVERICK striker Roderick Mutuma is set to make an emotional return to the National Sports Stadium this afternoon when he faces his former paymasters Dynamos for the first time since he was unceremoniously dumped by the Harare giants.
He will be one of the main attractions when Highlanders date Dynamos in what promises to be an explosive Battle of Zimbabwe Independence Cup final at the giant stadium.
The lanky forward, who appears to be settling well in Bulawayo since crossing the great divide to Bosso, was dumped by the Glamour Boys when he least expected it during the off-season.
Highlanders confirmed their place in the final when they edged bogey side FC Platinum 4-3 on penalties in a semi-final that had ended goalless in regulation time at Barbourfields on Sunday.
On the same day, Dynamos remembered how to beat CAPS United again with skipper Ocean Mushure's strike settling matters.
DeMbare had failed to beat CAPS United in their derby clashes in 2016.
Apart from Bosso and DeMbare helping the nation celebrate 37 years of Uhuru today, the encounter has greater significance for Mutuma, who left Dynamos with a heavy heart.
The self-styled prince, who has endeared himself to the Bosso faithfuls because of the promising combination he has formed with youthful Prince Dube, will also be looking to break his goal duck with a goal against his former employers.
Mutuma was among a group of senior players that were released by Lloyd Mutasa as the Dynamos gaffer sought to rebuild his squad using mostly younger players.
Dynamos team manager Richard Chihoro yesterday said DeMbare are expecting a tough match, but insisted they have enough material to neutralise the Bosso attack fronted by their former player.
"Highlanders are a big team and we are quite aware of the danger they pose to us. Of course, we also know about Mutuma, he was one of our players and it's quite obvious that if he plays in this final he would want to prove to us that he is still good. It happens with these players, even if he had been performing badly in previous games, but the fact that he is facing a club that offloaded him he will do his best to make us feel like we made a mistake letting him go.
"But we don't regret anything, we have a very good team and we are prepared for everything. We are not looking at one player," said Chihoro.
Dynamos are undergoing a transformation and they had a confidence-booster on Sunday when they beat CAPS United 1-0 courtesy of Mushure's second-half free-kick.
Key midfielder Denver Mukamba will miss the final after pulling a muscle, while sensational newboy Quality Kangadze is likely to reclaim his place.
Both players were pulled out prematurely in the semi-final, but Kangadze yesterday appeared to have recovered from the knock as he trained with the team in preparation for the match.
That was good news to DeMbare coach Mutasa, who also looks to get more value from Cameroonian international Ntouba Christian Joel who had a bad game on his debut.
Joel's performance on Sunday could have left many DeMbare faithfuls thinking if he is worth the hype that surrounded his arrival.
But Mutasa does not doubt his qualities.
"I'm sure he did not play much to the expected levels. He was a bit sluggish but I think with more games he will come to the party.
"You know we have been crying for a top man since (Takesure) Chinyama left, a player who can be able to hold on to the ball and wait for support. He is the kind of player and we hope to see more of him," said Mutasa.
Dynamos will be without key defender Obey Mwerahari who lost his father at the weekend.
DeMbare players and officials yesterday spared their time to attend the burial of Obey's father at the Harare Provincial Heroes' Acre.
And with Mwerahari and Mukamba confirmed out of the game, Mutasa still wants his young side to cultivate a winning mentality by lifting the silverware. However, he is not expecting it easy against the Bulawayo giants who beat them back-to-back when they met last year in the league.
"Highlanders and CAPS United are more or less the same. If you look at how we fared against them last year. It wasn't rosy on our part and it's another tough challenge ahead of us. But I'm sure we will be able to play our cards right.
"Our team is an attacking team and we are not very much in terms of defending. We like to take the game to our opponents," said Mutasa.
Highlanders coach Erol Akbay, who lost the final to Chicken Inn last year, is hoping his charges will get it right this time.
Akbay said Bosso could not have asked for a better opponent in today's final.
"Personally I am happy to meet Dynamos in this final because this is exactly what Zimbabwe needed to celebrate this important day. It had to be two of the country's biggest teams playing in this Independence Day final.
"Even the boys are excited and everybody wants to play in this game. So we are ready for Dynamos and we hope that we will win this cup.
"It's a 50-50 situation, though. Cup games are always different from league games, everyone has an equal chance of winning," said Akbay.
CAPS United and FC Platinum clash in the third place playoff at Barbourfields.
- the herald