THE depth of the Highlanders’ squad comes under the spotlight tomorrow when they take on a new look Quelaton at Barbourfields Stadium without the services of Mthulisi Maphosa, striker Graham Ncube and right-back Atlast Musasa.
It is the second derby between the two clubs and with bragging rights at stake, the significance of this meeting between Philani “Beefy” Ncube’s Quelaton and Kelvin Kaindu’s Bosso, cannot be lost on anybody who casts so much as a cursory glance in the direction of the league table.
In the build up to the match, it is clear that the boys from both camps are naturally going to offer up to 90 minutes of the sort of tension and high drama that is synonymous with derbies like Manchester United versus Manchester City in England.
While the mathematics of tomorrow’s match will be simple enough for a child to understand – Bosso has to win and cement their lead on the table and Quelaton have to start picking up points in their bid to escape relegation, the permutations of the derby remain somewhat opaque.
Against a background of the fact that Quelaton held the red-hot Highlanders 1-1 in the first half of the season, a stern test awaits Bosso at Emagumeni.
Quelaton defence stalwart Prince “Ndongo” Ncube said they were looking forward to an interesting game.
Prince will fight for a position in defence with newly-signed Ndumiso Khanye who is likely to be unleashed tomorrow, Zibusiso “Mzimara” Sibanda and Sikhumbulani Dube.
Quelaton signed eight players – Khanye, goalkeeper Tapiwa Marime, Chipo Tsodzo, Peace Tshuma, Thulani Moyo, Andrew Sidambe, Tatenda Magayisa and Simba Manwere – in a move meant to try and lift them from the relegation zone.
Khanye, Tsodzo, Manwere and Tshuma are likely to be in the starting line-up with Marime who started training on Thursday sitting on the bench.
Quelaton will be without two key players – goalkeeper Wiston Chiwetu who pulled out a number of brilliant saves to deny Bosso a win in Week 15 fixture and Proud Zireni – a utility player. They are serving suspensions after accumulating three yellow cards each.
On the other end, Kaindu and his entire technical bench will certainly not have it easy as their midfield which has been ably anchored by Maphosa is likely to be weakened. Simon Munawa is likely to play the defensive midfield role for Bosso.
As for the rightback position, Lawson Nkomo becomes the natural option to replace Musasa with new signing former ZPC Hwange forward Cleopas “Balottelli” Dube likely to make a debut appearance in Bosso colours leading the team’s attack without the assistance of seasoned Graham.
Week 15: FC Platinum v Dynamos (Mandava Stadium).
Week 16: Chicken Inn v Harare City (Luveve), Monomotapa v Motor Action (Rufaro), Black Mambas v Blue Rangers (Morris Depot).
Buffaloes vs Hardbody (Sakubva), Highlanders vs Quelaton (Barbourfields), Shabanie vs Gunners (Maglas), Hwange vs Caps United (Colliery).
Postponed: Dynamos vs FC Platinum (Rufaro)