Ricky Zililo Senior Sports Reporter
THE Castle Lager Premier Soccer League has given a reprieve to football lovers by turning down Highlanders’ request to hike gate charges for their epic match against Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow.
Fans will pay $3 for the rest of the ground, with those going to the VIP wings parting with $5 while the VIP enclosure charge is $10.
Tomorrow’s blockbuster between the country’s two giants might be the last Premiership match at Barbourfields Stadium before the facility is closed for renovations ahead of the December, African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Games.
Highlanders’ chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede said they have upped security and challenged fans to come early.
“This might be our last league match at Emagumeni and we hope to move away with a positive result. Everything is set for the game and we had a pre-match meeting with the police and city council and we agreed to have a very large contingent of police to monitor proceedings. There will be thorough searches and I urge those that have tendencies of smuggling alcohol not to do so as they will be arrested and denied the opportunity to pay the fine.
“On a positive note for fans, the PSL turned down our request to hike the charges. We had wanted to maximise on this game since it’s one of the biggest in our calendar. We will open the gates at 12PM and fans must come in early as there will be lots of entertainment,” Gumede said.
The Premiership stance should be wonderful news for both sets of supporters and a full house is expected.
A lot is at stake for both teams tomorrow with Highlanders on the hunt for their first league victory over their old nemesis in eight years. If they secure it, that will see them open a three-point lead above Dynamos.
Bosso who have gone for 270 hours without scoring are hard-pressed to break the three-game barren spell.
Both teams are tied on 32 points after 18 matches.
On the other hand, Dynamos who are seeking their fourth consecutive league title will want to continue their dominance over Bosso, and pile more misery on the Bulawayo side which has been blowing hot and cold.
In the first leg played at the National Sports Stadium on Week 12, Washington Pakamisa struck the solitary goal for DeMbare beating Highlanders’ goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni who was surprisingly thrown into the fray for the first time in the 2014 season. The veteran goalkeeper was probably overwhelmed by the occasion as he looked jittery.
Hit by many changes to their squad, Highlanders struggled against DeMbare and according to reports from the capital because of superstition, Bosso did not even warm up before the game, with only the goalkeepers taking to the field to loosen up.
Another interesting observation about Highlanders is that they are yet to have a consistent starting 11, with Kaindu making regular changes.
Going into tomorrow’s game, Highlanders are coming from an energy sapping 0-1 defeat to Black Rhinos at Rimuka Stadium on Wednesday while Dynamos were held to a 1-1 draw by Chicken Inn.
Dynamos go into this match carrying a psychological advantage.
It is in the last two thirds of either side where the game could be won.
Bulawayo giants have a predictable midfield partnership that of anchorman Felix Chindungwe, Mthulisi Maphosa who has lost some pace of late starting ahead of Joel Ngodzo deployed behind strikers while the technical team’s darling Knox Mutizwa will play on the right side of midfield with Valentine Ndaba on the left.
Highlanders also brought in Triangle United’s Pasca Manhanga who was once effective playing behind the strikers before loss of form saw him lose his place at Triangle early this year. Some of the other midfielders in contention for starting places are Welcome Ndiweni who despite his promise like Ngodzo in the few matches he has been thrown in, continues to be overlooked, Godfrey Makaruse and Hillary Madzivanyika.
Charles Sibanda and Njabulo Ncube will lead Bosso’s strikeforce. Ozias Zibande is likely to come off the bench in the second half despite not being an impact player.
While Ncube is good at laying passes for others, his known lack of pace, inability to outpace defenders and penchant to play with his back to goal makes him easy to mark.
For Dynamos, their coach Callisto Pasuwa spoke about the depth he has in his squad which makes it easy for him to grind the results.
DeMbare showed great pedigree coming from a goal down to win 2-1 the Harare derby against Caps United a few weeks ago.
Veteran Murape Murape will be part of the starting midfielders for Dynamos. The Harare side will hope that Stephen Alimenda recovers in time for the trip to Bulawayo so that he starts as a defensive midfielder. If he fails to recover, they will turn to Devon Chafa. Pasuwa’s other midfield options are Russell Madamombe, Ronald Chitiyo, Tafadzwa Rusike, Oscar Machapa and Cliff Sekete.
It is Murape who could be a match winner as he has the knack of taking the game by its scruff against perennial foes Caps United and Highlanders.
No player at Highlanders has the aptitude seen in greats like Madinda Ndlovu, Tito Paketh, Peter Ndlovu, Richard Choruma, Zenzo Moyo and Honour Gombami.
Bloemfontein Celtics flop Roderick Mutuma will either partner Congolese forward Fabrice Mbiba or Washington Pakamisa upfront with Simba Sithole coming from the bench in the second half.