Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
DESPITE being presented with a perfect occasion to punish his former paymasters, Highlanders striker Roderick Mutuma is putting the team first before his individual magnificence when Bosso clash with Dynamos in what promises to be a thrilling Castle Lager Premier Soccer League contest at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
Mutuma, who switched to Highlanders from Dynamos at the beginning of the year, is fully aware that this is a huge encounter but has promised not to let his emotions get the better of him. He declared that he has nothing to prove to Dynamos with the only people he wants to please being the Highlanders coaches, leadership and fans.
“It’s a big match to everyone who loves Highlanders. Facing your former paymasters, it’s tricky but it’s football. I will play my normal game, we need to fight the same way we play against Ngezi or any other team. What matters to me is to win the game.
I will put the team first before individual glory. It’s not about me, it’s about Highlanders. No emotions at all from me. I have nothing to prove to Dynamos, I only have to prove myself to the Highlanders coaches, my bosses and the fans,’’ said Mutuma.
The 28-year-old, with one league goal so far in Bosso colours revealed that he has settled well in Bulawayo where he has support from a lot of people. Mutuma said he was given targets by coach Erol Akbay which he was working on.
“I have settled well. I got support from everyone, I am happy. I have lived in Bulawayo before so it was not that difficult. I have lots of friends. I was given targets by the coach which I cannot disclose, I am working hard to get them,’’ Mutuma said.
His first meeting with Dynamos ended in a 3-2 on penalties defeat in the Independence Trophy final at the National Sports Stadium last month. This afternoon is an opportunity for Mutuma to make Lloyd Mutasa and the rest of the Dynamos family regret why they let him go when he still had six months left on his contract.
Akbay said while it was understandable for Mutuma to be emotional playing against his former side, he must focus in order to play good football because if his mind in not settled he cannot be at his best to deliver.
“Of course if you play for a team before and you have to play against the same guys of course it’s a little bit emotional, you cannot do anything about that. You can only hope that he plays very good football against them, he knows every weakness of this team, he knows every player on this team,’’ said Akbay.
Mutuma and Prince Dube, who was struggling with injury he picked up against Chapungu, are almost certain to lead the Bosso quest for goals. The good news for Highlanders is that Gabriel Nyoni has recovered which means Akbay could use the speedy winger as an option upfront. Veteran Ralph Matema, Nhlanhla Ndlovu are the options in search for goals. Foreigner Yves Ebabali was also given a run against Chapungu last Saturday and could be considered together with compatriot Tambwe Kalunga as Bosso look for more firepower.
Whoever Akbay chooses upfront, they should be at their best to get past the Dynamos defence of Ocean Mushure, Phakamani Dube and Elisha Muroiwa. DeMbare have been dealt a blow at the back with Obey Mwerahari suspended after accumulating three yellow cards. Akbay alluded to the fact that Dynamos now have strikers blessed with pace than they had last season.
Quality Kangadzi, Emmanuel Mandiranga, Peace Makaha and Cameroonian Christian Ntouba are sure to give the Highlanders backline a torrid time.
Back in the Bosso defence is Young Warriors defender, Bukhosi Ncube who should take his place on the right side of the rearguard. Akbay has Peter Muduhwa, Tendai Ndlovu and Benson Phiri to choose from in central defence while Honest Moyo is certain to occupy the left side of the backline with Ariel Sibanda in goals.
Skipper Erick Mudzingwa, Rahman Kutsanzira, Tendai Ngulube, Allan Gahadzikwa, Brian Banda, King Nadolo and Simon Munawa are some of the leading contenders for starting slots in the midfield department. These are the men who should be up to task against a Dynamos midfield made up Masimba Mambare, Tichaona Chipunza, Denver Mukamba and Takunda Sadiki.
Last season, Highlanders defeated Dynamos home and away to end a decade long misery of failing to secure maximum points against their bitter rivals. Victory for Highlanders, who headed into this weekend’s fixtures in second spot with the same number of points as table topping Ngezi Platinum will ensure that they stay on course for the championship. For Dynamos, three points are crucial in their rise on the log standings.
In other fixtures lined up for this afternoon, Hwange clash with Triangle at the Colliery, Shabanie Mine meet Chapungu at Maglas while Harare City entertain Ngezi Platinum Stars at Morris Depot.
Today: Highlanders v Dynamos (Barbourfields), Hwange v Triangle (Colliery), Shabanie v Chapungu (Maglas), Harare City v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Morris Depot) — See the Bosso, DeMbare pullout on SL8