By Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS are heavy favourites to win their first major trophy in four years when they face Ngezi Platinum in the Chibuku Super Cup final at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.
Bosso have the added inspiration of playing at home and will be in search of their first piece of domestic silverware since beating Chicken Inn 1-0 to win the NetOne sponsored Easycall Cup at the same venue in December 2015.
Having endured a barren spell since that cup final success, Highlanders, who are enjoying a new lease of life under their Dutch coach Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh, will be eager to finally get their hands on some silverware.
De Jong, whose arrival coincided with the start of the Chibuku Super Cup, when he masterminded Bosso’s 1-0 over their old foes Dynamos in the first round, has masterminded a 15-match unbeaten run in both the league and the Chibuku Super Cup at the club.
The Dutch coach however warned his players against underestimating Ngezi Platinum, whose fortunes changed when they fired own Dutch coach Erol Akbay before appointing Rodwell Dhlakama.
“I told the players two or three times, enjoy the moment, enjoy the preparations and most importantly, enjoy on Saturday when the stadium is full. However, Ngezi is a good team; they have good players with speed. This is their second time in the Chibuku Super Cup final so they have the experience,” De Jong said.
“This is our first time to be in this tournament’s final. We have players with good age; we are in a good mood and the spirit is high. I believe in a good result, but I respect the opponent because it’s a good side. I believe it would be the small details that will matter on Saturday. So, it will not be an easy game, but I’m confident we will get a good result,” he said.
Bosso will bank on the experience of their in-form striker Prince Dube and veteran goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who have both been impressive in the competition.
Dube has scored in every match he has featured in the Chibuku Super Cup since the first round while club skipper and goalkeeper Sibanda is yet to concede a goal in the competition where they beat Dynamos, FC Platinum and ZPC Kariba on their way to the final.
While Bosso appear as overwhelming favourites to steamroll past Ngezi, the Mhondoro-based platinum miners are confident of causing an upset. They won the title in 2016 and went on to represent the country in the second tier Confederations Cup under Tonderai Ndiraya.
Dhlakama, who has managed to steady the ship after joining the club in September, said his charges would be aiming to upstage the Bulawayo giants on their home turf.
“We will take advantage of the fact that the match will be played at Barbourfields. While Highlanders will have the backing of their supporters, they will be under pressure to win it. If you also consider they haven’t won it before, it puts them under more pressure before their home fans. So we will take advantage of that and try to win it for our community,” the Ngezi coach said.
Winners of the match will walk away with $225 000 and the runners-up get $150 000.
The ultimate prize for both teams will however be the ticket to represent Zimbabwe in next year’s CAF Confederations Cup which is at the stake for the winners.