Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
EXPLOSIVES on the field of play are expected when the country’s traditional giants Highlanders and Dynamos face-off in the “dream” ZNA Charity Shield final at the National Sports Stadium, tomorrow.
The giants are meeting for the second time in the final of the tournament which is in its sixth edition. They met in 2015 and Highlanders won 1-0.
Bosso went on to defend their title in 2016, beating Harare City 4-2 after a penalty shootout.
Last season Caps United denied Highlanders an opportunity to permanently keep the trophy, winning the final 3-2 after penalty shootouts. The match had ended 0-0 after regulation time.
Highlanders and Caps United have each won the tournament twice.
Dynamos stand in Highlanders way of becoming the team with the tournament’s most wins.
Even though tomorrow’s encounter is for a charitable cause, there is nothing friendly about the game as both Highlanders and Dynamos are always driven by the will to win whenever they play against each other.
What makes the build-up to the final even more interesting is that the two sides used youthful sides to eliminate experienced teams in the quarter finals.
Dynamos beat Caps United 1-0 through a strike from 19-year-old Kudzanai Dhemere in Harare while Highlanders had to come from a goal down to knockout Chicken Inn with a 2-1 scoreline in a game that began on Sunday and ended the following morning. Adrian Silla and Peter Mudhuwa scored for Highlanders while veteran Clemence Matawu got the goal for Chicken Inn.
Madinda Ndlovu, Highlanders coach said in as much as he wants his boys to cultivate a winning mentality, he will not worry much even if they fail to beat their arch-rivals.
“Obviously we want to win it but at the same time we are not reading much into the result. We’re taking it like any training game. This is not to say that the tournament is not important, but it allows us to work on certain areas in the team before the season gets underway. It is a game that will give us the opportunity to give players who didn’t get game time in the game against Chicken Inn, a chance.
“But this being a Highlanders versus Dynamos match, the spark and the vibe will be there. It will be very competitive and l’m sure the players will be ready for the game,” said Ndlovu.
Highlanders will bank on new boys ex-Tsholotsho FC and Ngezi Platinum Stars’ right back McClive Phiri, attacking midfielder Nigel Makombe who is a product of Aces Youth Academy and former national Under-20 holding midfielder Patrick Musaka who played well against Chicken Inn.
They also have former Bantu Rovers central midfielder Munyaradzi Chitambwe and striker Thabo Lunga, a product of Highlanders’ development side.
Bosso may also unleash their latest acquisition Newman Sianchali who reportedly joined the club on a season long loan from Talen Vision. Sianchali scored ten Premiership goals last season, three for Bantu Rovers and seven for Bulawayo City.
When Dynamos edged Caps United last week, they had Marshal Machazane and Godfrey Mukambi as the only senior players from last season featuring in the game. Blessing Moyo, who is returning to the side this year, started together with Cleopas Kapupurika and Tawanda Macheke.
Valentine Kadonzo and Romario Matova, who made cameo appearances last season, also got their opportunities in the absence of senior players Ocean Mushure, Obey Mwerahari, Joel Epoupa, Quality Kangadze, Valentine Ndaba, Emmanuel Mandiranga and Peace Makaha who is also nursing an ankle injury.
The senior players were on strike over outstanding salaries which have since been cleared. It remains to be seen whether Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa will be tempted to unleash the experienced players on Highlanders at the expense of the youngsters who pulled a stunning result against Caps United.
Winners of the shield will walk away with a $15 000 cheque with the losing side getting $5 000 less.— @ZililoR