The Sunday News
Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
PICKING up maximum points in their season opener against ZPC Kariba is all that Highlanders Football Club is targeting this afternoon at Barbourfields Stadium.
A good start will set the tone for Highlanders who are looking at ending a 17-year league championship drought, having been perennial campaigners for long. The Bulawayo soccer giants last lifted the league title in 2006 when they were under the tutelage of Methembe Ndlovu and since then, they have failed to left the most coveted piece of silverware.
This afternoon, Highlanders kickoff their championship ambition with assistant coach Antonio Torres who is standing in for gaffer Baltemar Brito who is in Portugal renewing his Uefa PRO badge non-committal in Bosso’s title challenge. The Portuguese expatriate, who will be on the bench with legendary Madinda Ndlovu and Joel Luphahla said the first five games will have a big tell in Bosso’s title challenge.
“We said it (Bosso wants the championship) but one needs to understand that we are not competing alone so we need four, five or six games to understand the true value of the other teams. After that then we can then say we are in the race to fight to be champions. We have been working hard in pre-season to keep our dream alive. Now we focus on the first game and if we don’t win the first game, it does not matter since we are dreaming about big things. The big things will come with what we achieve week by week.
“When you are a club the size of Highlanders, we need to go to every game to win and collect maximum points. We don’t know the kind of changes that the other clubs have made or how they are playing, but we don’t care much about them. We know that Dynamos brought in a number of players; we know that they have good players but we don’t care about other clubs. Of course, when you dream you have to dream big and last season we told everyone that we will be fighting for the championship,” said Torres.
Highlanders have made seven signings in their hope to turn their fortunes around. Bosso brought on board the defending pair of Marvelous Chigumira and Gillian Nyathi, midfield-quintet of Melikhaya Ncube, Brighton Manhire, Elshamar Farasi and McKinnon Mushore as well striker Calvin Chigonero.
Chigumira joined Highlanders from TelOne, while Nyathi, who can play as a central defender as well as defensive midfielder was promoted from the Bosso-90 alongside Mushore who is a left attacking midfielder, with the pair of anchorman Ncube and winger Farasi joining Bosso from relegated Bulawayo City.
Defensive midfielder Manhire had a stint with South Africa’s Premiership side Richards Bay when they were in the first division. Chigonero is on a season’s loan from Talen Vision. Torres is wary of ZPC Kariba and has called on Highlanders fans to be patient and rally behind the team.
“We know that ZPC Kariba has made some changes, but we don’t have much information about them but more importantly we have to focus on ourselves rather than them because we have the talent to beat them. It is a question of us being serious against them. It will be our first game and maybe a game of uncertainty because it is the first game but be that as it may, we hope the boys play well and provide a good performance. What we need is for Highlanders supporters to come in their numbers and make sure that they create an intimidating atmosphere for our opponents. We need them not only for the opening game but for the entire season,” said Torres. In their last meeting with ZPC Kariba at
Barbourfields Stadium, known to die hard fans as Emagumeni, Highlanders drew 1-1. — Follow on Twitter @ZililoR