HIGHLANDERS Football Club’s championship bid credentials are set to get the sternest of tests so far when they play host to Dynamos in a Castle Lager Premiership match at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow. The tense rivalry that exists between the two teams has always been a key factor to the destiny of the championship in most of the seasons either team has been in contention.
Highlanders lead the standings and are unbeaten in 14 starts with nine wins and five draws.
Dynamos, with three games in hand, are a distant nine points away with 23 and lie seventh. They are still favourites for the title but it is these games that they are yet to play that could prove key to their aspirations.
The first, against table-topping Highlanders, will not be an easy tie, the second against Caps United an explosive Harare derby and the third against cash-rich FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium will also be a litmus test.
Going into the match tomorrow, a lot of pressure is on both sets of coaches.
Bosso’s Kelvin Kaindu has dealt with the rest. Tomorrow he is coming up against the biggest and the most successful soccer club in the history of Zimbabwean semi-professional and professional football – Dynamos. He has done well so far to beat FC Platinum, Caps United and Shabanie Mine, clubs that seem to have the pedigree to walk away with the coveted Castle Lager title at the end of the year. Draws against some of the bottom half of the log clubs, have left fans puzzled.
Dynamos on the other hand, are a club with a history of rising to expectations. They have had the better of the Bulawayo club in the last six years winning most of the exchanges and are hungry to return to the African safari where a good number of their players have tasted good money.
In an interview yesterday, Bosso coach Kaindu conceded that it would be a tight battle. He said his charges had the motivation to turn the tide on Dynamos who have dominated Bosso in the past.
He described the match as a David and Goliath affair with his side out to slay Dynamos.
“It is going to be a Goliath versus David fight. We have all the motivation to want to beat them. This generation of players realises that they have come at a time when Dynamos have had an upper hand over Bosso. They want to turn on the power and make their fans happy,” said Kaindu.
He said Dynamos’ dominance gave them a slight advantage over Highlanders but was happy that the players are psyched up. Kaindu conceded that they were aware of the quality in the Dynamos camp and the African exposure set to be a key factor beyond the Bosso game tomorrow.
“Even during my time as a player everyone wanted to play against Dynamos. The attitude has been the same at training this week, every player wants to play.
“Dynamos have been together for a while. They have the Confederation of Africa Cup tournaments experience, we have lots of respect for them but on the field, we will try to outwit them and get maximum points,” said the former Highlanders and Zanaco right wing darling of the crowds.
Kaindu said there would not be any pressure on his players as the goal at the club was to beat every team in the Premiership.
“It is just like any other game, we have the motivation and we will not be under any pressure at all,” said Kaindu.
Kaindu disclosed that the match had attracted a lot of attention among fans both in and outside the country including his native Zambia.
“This is the match! Even back home people have been eagerly awaiting to get the confirmed dates with a view of coming for it. It’s the same for the players and followers outside the country, we would be happy if we left them happy with a good result,” said Kaindu.
In an interview by telephone from Harare yesterday, Pasuwa said they were geared for the match. He expressed disappointment that some of his key players would not be available.
“Our preparations have gone well, we would like to give the match a fight with the players we have.
“Takesure Chinyama despite word about a possible move to South Africa is with us, he is carrying an injury… it does not look like he will be part of the squad. Washington Arubi left on Wednesday and as for Denver Mukamba he has been away for a while. That is the challenge at times at Dynamos where players move in and out at the instigation of agents,” said Pasuwa.
Phil Nhete and George Chigova have over the week tried to impress the coaching department in a bid to be considered for the goalkeeper’s starting place.
Infield Pasuwa has worries over Farai Mupasiri who returned from national duty in Botswana with a limp while centreback Partson Jaure walked off Thursday’s training session with a cut on his forehead.
Former Gunners striker Cliff Sekete might make his debut for Dynamos tomorrow afternoon. His papers were expected to sail through at the PSL Eastlea offices yesterday.
Martin Vengesayi and Tawanda Muparati are some of the players expected to spearhead the team’s attack.
Highlanders will count on good goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, rightback Atlast Musasa and left wingback Bruce Kangwa.
The duo has been outstanding giving good width and options in the Bosso attack and supporting outstanding centrebacks Innocent Mapuranga and Eric Mudzingwa.
In midfield Mthulisi Maphosa, Milton Ncube and Peter Moyo are expected to pull the strings and provide clean balls to strikers Beavan Chikaka and Graham Ncube.
Kaindu said Masimba Mambare who lost his mother last Sunday had returned to the camp and was in a position to be fielded.
“He has a 50-50 chance of being fielded, subject to him showing good recovery from his ordeal,” said Kaindu.
Team Doctor Xolani Ndlovu said Bheki Ncube and Lawson Nkomo would not be available due to injury.
Central defender Fazo Ndlovu has recovered from the head injury he suffered against Quelaton last Sunday.
The spotlight however could fall on referees who have not been impressive at Barbourfields Stadium this season By sbue