Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
AN electric atmosphere is expected to engulf Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon when two of the country most supported football teams, Highlanders and Dynamos collide in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League fixture.
This eagerly anticipated encounter was postponed twice and the time has come for the biggest teams in the land to clash for the precious three points at Emagumeni.
Matches between the two sides are something to look forward to as they always live up to expectations with players from both teams putting up their best show on the day. It does not matter that the two teams are far from the championship race, they are still the biggest in the land and whoever wins this afternoon will get to enjoy the bragging rights until the next time they meet again.
Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu declared that he was asking nothing short of victory against Dynamos. The former Highlanders player summed up the expectation on today’s encounter by stating that he would not miss out on an opportunity to be on the Bosso bench giving instructions to his players and plotting the downfall of DeMbare.
“I am looking forward to beating Dynamos. I am not asking for anything short than shooting them below the waist. The excitement that is there, it is even there among the players. Games like the one we are going to play are games that inspire everybody, I wouldn’t for anything miss to be on that bench unless I am fired. I will be very excited to stand in there and give command,’’ Ndlovu said.
Highlanders and Dynamos were in action at Barbourfields with different opponents last weekend with only the DeMbare fans walking away with a smile while for the Bosso supporters left Emagumeni empty handed. Dynamos defeated Bulawayo City 2-1 on Saturday while Highlanders lost by the same score line to Ngezi Platinum Stars the next day.
The Bosso coach gave indications that his players had gotten over the defeat to Ngezi and were looking forward to taking on the Glamour Boys this afternoon.
With Highlanders having beaten Dynamos in the first meeting between the two teams in Harare, they would certainly want to complete a double over their fierce rivals. Highlanders overpowered Dynamos 1-0 at Rufaro Stadium in April, with the only goal coming from Ozias Zibande who has since been loaned out to Bulawayo City.
Bosso last tasted victory on 22 July when they won 1-0 over Triangle at Gibbo. That puts Ndlovu and his lads under lots of pressure to deliver in front of their fans.
Ariel Sibanda, probably the best goalkeeper on the local scene has conceded five goals in just two matches, something that must have dented his confidence. The howler against Ngezi when the ball bounced in front of the usually reliable “Mangoye” and went in broke the hearts of the Bosso fans after inspirational captain for the day, Gabriel Nyoni had equalised for Bosso.
The Highlanders coach said Sibanda had been forgiven by his teammates, which means that he will be the man in between the sticks this afternoon. It is to be seen if the Bosso tinkers with his backline or keeps it as it is.
Last Sunday, Peter Muduhwa, Charlton Siamalonga, Mbongeni Ndlovu and MacClive Phiri started in defence for Bosso. Unless if skipper Honest Moyo has recovered from injury, Mbongeni, the younger brother of former Highlanders captain Bekithemba should be deployed on the left side of the Bosso rearguard.
Nigel Makumbe has not produced the dazzling displays he put up at the start of the season with a lot expected from the stylish midfielder this afternoon. If Makumbe hits the right chord with Adrian Silla, Brian Banda, Nyoni and Denzel Khumalo, then Bosso fans could be smiling at the end of the 90 minutes. Khumalo was just amazing against Ngezi last Sunday and a repeat of that display today could see the Bosso fans believe in his abilities.
Tafadzwa Sibanda has been impressive in the two matches he has played at Emagumeni with the only thing the dreadlocked striker has failed to do is to hit the back of the net. He can become a hero for Bosso if he scores against their bitter rivals this afternoon. Sibanda has been struggling with an ankle injury but the prospect of facing DeMbare should be motivation enough for him to be at his best.
Dynamos have found the going tough with the Glamour Boys having won seven of the 23 matches they have played this season, with small teams like Bulawayo Chiefs and Herentals above them on the log. Their victory over Bulawayo City was the second set of three points that they have picked at Emagumeni this season after a win over Bulawayo Chiefs in May.
In Ocean Mushure, Kudakwashe Kumwala, Denver Mukamba, Quality Kangadzi, Peace Makaha and their new signing Kingstone Nkhata, Dynamos certainly have what it takes to pile misery on Bosso. The Highlanders defence has to be at its best to deal with the heavily built pair of Nkhata and Kumwala.
Nkhata is striker with a lot of experience, having played for the now defunct Buymore and Caps FC before he moved to South Africa where he turned out for Free State Stars, Black Leopards, Kaizer Chiefs as well as SuperSport United. The bustling forward could play a similar role at Dynamos that Agent Sawu occupied when he return home from overseas where he would shield the ball away from opponents before laying it for his teammates to score.
With head coach Lloyd Mutasa away with the national team in Congo, his assist Joseph Takaringofa will take charge of DeMbare this afternoon. Yesterday, Highlanders and Dynamos held a joint anti violence road show around the city which was facilitated by sponsors of the two teams, NetOne.