Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS Football Club will be hoping that their gods continue to smile at them and guide them towards ending a nine-year league winless jinx against FC Platinum who they host at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Bosso head to the FC Platinum game bubbling with confidence having brought to an end a six-year away winless run against Black Rhinos since Chauya Chipembere’s return to the Premiership in 2017.
It took unheralded attacking midfielder McKinnon Mushore, who was promoted from Bosso 90 to break the jinx against Black Rhinos, striking the priceless goal as Highlanders edged the army side 1-0 to collect maximum points in Harare.
That victory is now under the bridge and Highlanders are preparing for a daunting assignment against FC Platinum who are in the hunt for a record fifth consecutive championship.
Highlanders have gone for close to a decade without beating FC Platinum in a league match, but their coach Baltermar Brito seems to have mastered a way of ending jinxes. Bosso last collected three points against Pure Platinum Play in August 2014 when they won 1-0 at Mandava Stadium.
Besides putting to an end Highlanders’ away curse to Black Rhinos, in September last year, Brito broke Bosso’s 32-out of Bulawayo winless league run which dated back to July 22, 2018 when they edged Triangle United 1-0 at Gibbo Stadium.
On September 2 last year, Brito saw Highlanders defeat Yadah 3-2 at the National Sports Stadium as they picked their first set of maximum points while on the road.
Never mind that the latest dose of the Highlanders display has been unexciting, hope for multitude of Bosso fans is that they come up with the right formulae to stop FC Platinum’s dominance.
Bosso’s last home win in a league match against FC Platinum was in a midweek fixture played on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 which they won 2-1. Njabulo ‘Tshiki’ Ncube struck on each half to hand Highlanders a win, while FC Platinum’s consolation came from Mitchell Katsvairo with the last kick of the game.
The victory by Highlanders came in a season when they encountered another near-title miss, being beaten to the championship by Dynamos on a superior goal difference having been tied on 54 points.
Highlanders had also lost the 2012 title to DeMbare on a goal difference, the two teams both ending on 69 points.
Last season, Soccer Star of the Year Walter Musona’s last minute strike at Barbourfields Stadium pierced through Highlanders followers’ hearts, turning Barbourfields Stadium into a somber atmosphere.
About 8 000 fans watched last season’s Highlanders-FC Platinum duel which ended 3-2 in favour of the champions.
Highlanders had managed to fight back into the game from 2-0, to 2-2 in the 90th minute when Washington Navaya headed in Bosso’s second goal. FC Platinum’s opening two goals were scored by Musona and Panashe Mutimbanyoka, before Stanley Ngala pulled one back for Tshilamoya in the second half.
Ngala and Navaya have fired blanks in Highlanders’ last two games against ZPC Kariba and Black Rhinos. The duo, alongside strike partner Lynoth Chikuhwa will hope to open their 2023 season account against the champions who are also coming to Barbourfields for a good fight.
FC Platinum have won both their opening two matches of the season, beating Simba Bhora 2-1 in Harare as well as Cranborne Bullets 1-0 at Mandava Stadium. The champions will hope to add Highlanders to their list of casualties.
Castle Lager Match Day Three Fixtures
Friday, March 31: Herentals v Manica Diamonds (National Sports Stadium)
Saturday, April 1: Simba Bhora v Dynamos (National Sports Stadium), Sheasham v Yadah (Mandava), Bulawayo Chiefs v Black Rhinos (Luveve), Cranborne Bullets v Chicken Inn (Baobab Stadium)
Sunday, April 2: Caps United v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Highlanders v FC Platinum (Barbourfields), Triangle United v Ngezi platinum Stars (Gibbo), Hwange v Greenfuel (Luveve).