Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE first episode of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League flagship clash is on this Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium where Highlanders host Dynamos.
Never mind that the fading giants face off at a time when they are at their weakest, with Highlanders floating in the relegation waters while Dynamos are just four points above the red zone, expectations are that the clash will be a thriller.
Highlanders sit in 15th position on the league table with 11 points after 11 games and have had a bizarre campaign, averaging a point a game.
So much had been expected from Highlanders after creating a false dawn by winning two consecutive games, only to suffer a shock 1-0 defeat away to Yadah.
Losing to Yadah was not the best way Highlanders wanted to build-up to the DeMbare clash, but their coach Madinda Ndlovu thinks otherwise.
He believes the sentimental value associated with the Bosso and DeMbare clash self-motivates players.
“We will go on with our game plan. It’s a different ball game altogether – ‘El Clasico’ is not like this game we played (Saturday against Yadah). Every player will probably lift (their game) and the fact that we are playing at home will probably motivate the players to want to play this game. So I think it’s one of the easiest games to prepare for because every player is geared for such kind of a game,” Ndlovu told the club’s official website.
Competition for places in the final squad is likely to be high at the Highlanders training ground.
The worry that the coach is likely to have is his strike force’s impotence. How he deals with his team’s failure to convert chances will be key to Highlanders’ success against Dynamos.
Last season Bosso beat Dynamos home and away, with Ozias Zibande scoring for Bosso in the team’s 1-0 victory at Rufaro Stadium.
In the reverse fixture at Barbourfields Stadium, Highlanders hammered Dynamos 3-0, with Tafadzwa Sibanda, Gabriel Nyoni and Newman Sianchali getting the goals.
Sibanda returned to his parent club TelOne in Gweru after a season’s loan at Bosso, while the duo of Nyoni and Sianchali sought greener pastures at Caps United in Harare.
Players expected to carry the day for Highlanders are goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who has been a pillar for Bosso in their dire campaign, the pair of central defenders Peter Muduhwa and Tendai Ndlovu as well as gritty midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku.
Wingers Ray Lunga and former Dynamos’ man Cleopas Kapupurika are expected to run rings around DeMbare defenders.
However, it will be folly for Bosso to think that they will have it easy against Dynamos, who seem to have improved ever since Tonderai Ndiraya replaced Lloyd Chigowe as head coach after four games.
Ndiraya has presided over seven games, collecting 12 points out of a possible 21 points from three wins, three draws and one defeat.
During the same period, Highlanders have managed nine points from two wins, three draws and two defeats.
Dynamos visit Bulawayo coming from a 0-0 draw against Manica Diamonds. In their last road trip, DeMbare shocked FC Platinum 1-0 at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane, which could give the Glamour Boys reason to believe when they face Bosso.