The Sunday News
Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
WINNERS of the Chibuku Super Cup in 2019, Highlanders are supercharged for the gruelling Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final derby against unpredictable Bulawayo Chiefs at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
Never mind that Chiefs’ preparations for today’s encounter were marred by in-house quarrels, with their coach Nilton Terroso walking out of Thursday’s training session and missing out on the final preparatory shift on Friday.
On the other hand Bosso are focused on getting themselves to the semi-finals. On their way to the quarter-finals, Highlanders and Chiefs edged their opponents Triangle United and ZPC Kariba by identical 1-0 scorelines.
Bosso skipper Ariel Sibanda spoke about the importance of securing a last four slot as they dream of ending the season with a second piece of silverware in their cabinet after the Independence Cup. The Bosso goalie, who missed last weekend’s 2-0 home league win against Triangle serving suspension, anticipates a challenging afternoon at Emagumeni.
“We need to be part of this tournament but what I can say about this game, is we’ll try our best to give a good result. All we have to do is focus and work hard. We know it’s not going to be an easy game and we’ll work hard to make sure we get that desired result,” Sibanda said.
Highlanders will have to do without midfielder Mason Mushore who was shown a red card in the first round at Triangle, as well as the trio of Mthabisi “Mabobo” Ncube, Toto Banda and Andrew Tandi who are on long-term injuries.
Bosso will look at in-form striker Lynoth Chikuhwa who has 10 Premiership goals to lead their attack, being partnered by either Stanley Ngala or Washington Navaya. The experienced Sibanda is expected to reclaim his starting place from Raphael Pitisi who exerted himself well last weekend.
It is highly unlikely that Highlanders coach will tinker with the back four of Peter Muduhwa, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Godfrey Makaruse and Andrew Mbeba. It is in the midfield where the battle will be won and lost. Bosso usually rely on vital cog Nqobizitha Masuku, Darlington Mukuli who is improving with each game, playmaker Devine Mhindirira and Ray Lunga.
Masuku, who missed the Bosso-Chiefs 2-2 league draw is excited to be part of the squad for today’s encounter and wants his teammates to bring their top form to avoid a defeat. In the first leg of the PSL clash with Chiefs, Highlanders had to fight back from 2-0 to share spoils following two well-taken free kicks by Adrian Silla. Elvis Moyo and Arthur Musiyiwa had scored for Chiefs.
“Derbies are always difficult. We’re playing people we usually meet on a daily basis, some of whom wish to be play for Highlanders Football Club. But I think it will be a different game compared to the league game. Almost everything has changed in terms of tactics so the most important thing is to bring our A-game, try to fight hard and hopefully we will win the match. We’re confident we’ll get a positive result and progress to the next stage,” Masuku said.
Chiefs will have to overcome in-house problems and put up a united front when they take on high-riding Highlanders. Chiefs coach Terroso reportedly went berserk on Thursday, walking out of the team’s training session following a quarrel with the welfare manager, Farai Sibanda.
Club sources said Terroso was unhappy that someone had reported to the club’s directors that some players, striker Obriel Chirinda, midfielder Hugh Chikosa and defender Malvin Mkolo were alleged to have been intoxicated on the morning of their game against Ngezi Platinum Stars. Chiefs went on to lose that weekend’s league match 1-0 away at Ngezi.
The sources said on Thursday, Terroso summoned his technical team and asked who among them had informed the club’s hierarchy about players being intoxicated. Chiefs assistant coach Thulani Sibanda, goalkeepers’ trainer Nkosiyazi Ncube and fitness trainer Abraham Mbaiwa all professed ignorance.
Impeccable sources at the club said before Farai could answer, Terroso called club owner Lovemore Sibanda demanding to know who had briefed him about players’ conduct. When he was told that it was the welfare manager, Terroso was livid, exchanging words with Farai before walking out. On Friday, Terroso didn’t attend training and it is not clear if he will be in charge of today’s game as he had been scheduled for a late meeting with the club’s management.
“All this could have been avoided had the team gone to camp ahead of their Ngezi match. What happened is that on the eve of the match, the club could not get accommodation in Kwekwe and Kadoma, with the alternative camp site being in Harare. Management organised accommodation in Harare, but the players then told the coach (Terroso) that they don’t want to go to camp in Harare, which would have seen them driving at least two hours to Ngezi on the morning of the match.
“Players were then dismissed, went home and when they were picked up in the morning, three of them appeared drunk. One of them (name supplied) puked inside the dressing room at Ngezi before the match. Their performance was subdued and not ruling out fatigue, they were wasted and couldn’t last the game.
“So, when the management heard about what had happened, they demanded a report from the welfare manager. It is that report that irked Terroso because before the match, he was told that the players in question appeared to be drunk and he called them to ask if they were intoxicated, which they denied,” the source said.
Chiefs spokesperson Thulani “Javas” Sibanda declined to comment on events leading to today’s clash, saying their focus is on the Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final.
Chiefs have a competitive squad and if they move past the hiccups they had leading into today’s match, they have a chance of knocking out the Bulawayo giants. David Bizabani and Matripples Mleya are competing for the goalkeeper’s starting place, with defenders Mkolo, Ben Nyahunzwi, Elvis Moyo, Felix Moyo, Kevin Moyo, Tarisai Chikwende and McClive Phiri all fighting for the four slots. Former national team’s Kelvin Madzongwe, Lucky Ndlela, Artur Musiyiwa, Mthokozisi Msebe and Chikosa are some of the midfielders at Chiefs’ disposal, with their attackers being Perfect Chikwende, Chirinda, Billy Veremu and Farau Matare.–@ZililoR