Ricky Zililo, [email protected]
HIGHLANDERS Football Club has scored a major deal ahead of today’s blockbuster Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against Dynamos, which will save the club thousands of dollars.
Bosso and DeMbare lock horns in a rearranged Matchday 5 Premiership encounter at Barbourfields Stadium, with Highlanders’ team heading to the game coming from their new camping home at Matopos National Park.
The Bulawayo giants struck a camping deal meant to promote Matopos National Park with Zimparks.
Bosso immediately went to camp at the tranquil Matobo Hills’ Maleme Lodges yesterday.
Ecstatic about the deal, Highlanders chief executive officer Ronald Moyo said the club will be accommodated for free, with Bosso paying back by having “Visit Matobo” logo on the left sleeve of their playing kit.
Bosso will save about US$2 000 camping fees for each game.
“It’s a partnership that lifts a heavy burden on our strained budget. We are happy to be the pioneers of sports tourism in Zimbabwe.
We are a big club with a special place in the country’s socioeconomic ecosystem. We are hopeful that it’s a partnership will open avenues for both, sport in general and local tourism,” said Moyo.
While Highlanders celebrate a major milestone that eases financial burden, vice-captain Mbongeni Ndlovu said they are fired up for today’s encounter.
Ndlovu said they want to continue their dominance over Highlanders having last lost a league game to their opponents on a field of play in 2015, a match they controversially won 3-2 as Highlanders had a Edmore Muzanenhamo equaliser erroneously ruled offside.
However, DeMbare where to get a “boardroom” win in 2017, being awarded the match on a 3-0 score line for the abandoned fixture at Barbourfields.
Referee of the day Munyaradzi Majoni had to call off the encounter after missiles rained onto the pitch from the Empankweni stand where the Bosso fans were housed, following a Dynamos equaliser by Cameroonian striker Christian Epoupa from what appeared to be an offside position. Only 42 minutes of that encounter were played.
Ndlovu said they were fired up for the game.
“Every time Highlanders play Dynamos there are fireworks. Never mind that their form is down, the clash is embedded with history, bragging rights are at stake and both sets of teams will play for pride.
“We want to maintain our dominance. We owe it to ourselves and fans to post a good result. It won’t be easy, but we promise to give 120 percent as we have been working hard at training.
“So, fans must come and cheer us in their numbers,” said Ndlovu.
Bulawayo is likely to come to a standstill with the streets painted black and white or blue and white on roads leading to Barbourfields Stadium.
Supporters from both sets of teams, no matter the form of their clubs, always head for the encounter optimistic of a positive result.
Highlanders, whose last league championship victory was in 2006 are under the guidance of expatriate Baltemar Brito with Dynamos under the tutelage of Herbert Jompano Maruwa.
The Dynamos gaffer was part of Callisto Pasuwa’s backroom staff when they won four consecutive league titles from 2011-2014.
The technical and tactical shrewdness of both gaffers will be under microscopic eye this afternoon, with the two teams coming from identical three consecutive draws.
Maruwa, who knows the local football terrain, could ride on that when he visits Barbourfields Stadium for the second time this year. On his first trip, Maruwa saw his charges emerging 1-0 victorious against Hwange as they were backed by vociferous fans.
However, his Bosso counterpart boasts of so many years of experience in competitive leagues, including being part of the backroom staff under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea between 2004 and 2007. During his stint at Chelsea, Brito won the two English Premier League championships.
Those EPL championships were won about two decades ago, but one can tell from the way that Highlanders have been playing in their opening matches that there’s some resemblance of the Mourinho-coached style of play of being too defensive and waiting to catch opponents on counters.
With skipper Frank Makarati out due to injury, Dynamos will bank on the Moyo twins Kelvin and Elvis who have been key in their build-up from the back as they are comfortable with the ball and rarely pump it forward.
Central midfielders at Dynamos Tanaka Shandirwa and Donald Mudadi and star player Denver Mukamba are some of the players to watch for DeMbare.
Bosso will look at Ndlovu, Peter Muduhwa, Ariel Sibanda and winger McKinnon Mushore to guide them, with strikers Lynoth Chikuhwa and Stanley Ngala leading their attack.