The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
HIGHLANDERS will be out to maintain their purple patch that has seen them win three games in seven days when they take on Herentals at the National Sports Stadium in Harare this afternoon in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash.
The arrival of Dutchman, Hendrik Pieter de Jongh seems to have breathed a new lease of life to Bosso with the club turning the tide and beginning to notch crucial victories that have seen them ease out of the relegation zone and progress to the Chibuku Cup quarter-finals.
A veil of despondency had engulfed Bosso’s followers as the team hobbled from defeat, draw, defeat win and draw leaving it lurching in the murky waters of relegation. However, consecutive victories against city rivals Bulawayo Chiefs and Chicken Inn saw Highlanders climb the log standings, giving them an opportunity to start fighting for an eighth place finish, a position that most supporters felt they could only dream of this season.
Another win against archrivals Dynamos in the first round of the Chibuku Cup brought joy to the multitudes of the club’s supporters and gave them belief they can even go on and win the trophy that has eluded Highlanders since it was reintroduced in 2014.
A victory this afternoon will give the boys in black and white confidence they can storm the top eight. Highlanders had been struggling to find the back of the net despite playing well and creating numerous chances but their recent surge has seen top striker, Prince Dube score in the past three matches and he will be hopeful of playing a starring role this afternoon at the National Sports Stadium. With 24 points from the same number of games, Herentals are facing the chop and will be hard pressed to come up with nothing but a victory if they are to entertain any chances of continuing their dance in the big boys’ league. The Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva-coached side is third from bottom and only a victory would be enough to ease their relegation worries calm.
Across town at Rufaro Stadium, Dynamos will take on Bulawayo Chiefs in an encounter in which two sides come in with different aims. While DeMbare will be seeking to cement their position in the top eight, Bulawayo Chiefs are aiming to rake in the points and make a charge out of the relegation zone in the last 10 games of the season.
Dynamos are on position seven with 35 points and a victory will ensure they finish the season in a respectable position, on the other hand Chiefs are on 24 points and second from bottom of the log and they need nothing short of three points.
The two teams are coming from contrasting fortunes with the Bulawayo side having won their last league match against Harare City, an important victory, that has given them hope they can pull a Houdini act and survive the chop while Dynamos were held to a one all draw by log anchors, Yadah FC, who finished the game with 10-men.
Meanwhile, the new Highlanders boss has said he wants his players to be bold.
“I want players who are hard, we are men for goodness sake. I was impressed with Silla (Adrian), also our defender Peter Muduhwa’s hardness. That’s what I want from my team. I want that power, not to be lazy. We must be offensive,” he told the media last week.
Meanwhile, the consortium that is financing the financial package for the new Highlanders coach wants to remain unidentified. Highlanders chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube said those looking after the Dutchman do not wish to have their identities revealed.
“The package is financed by a credible group of businesspeople who are committed long time fans and members of the club. They have requested absolute anonymity. I’d rather leave it at reputable individuals. That’s the confidentiality agreement and we, as you know, are very strict about confidentiality of sponsors and partners,’’ Dube said.
The Bosso head of secretariat further stated that de Jongh is not getting anything from the club’s sponsorship deal with NetOne.
“He’s not on NetOne sponsorship but on a separate sponsorship. Of course NetOne are our main sponsor so he carries the brand too.”