By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’s fading football giants Dynamos and their perennial rivals Highlanders will be eager to put behind their dismal starts to the season when they face off in a potentially explosive Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash at Babourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Unlike in years gone by, when both teams consistently challenged for top honours every season, this year’s clash between the country’s biggest teams comes at a time when both are at their weakest.
Bosso, as Highlanders are affectionately known by their fans are flirting with relegation in 15th position on the league table with 11 points after 11 games while Dynamos are just four points above the red zone.
Highlanders head into the crucial match against Dynamos, desperate to return to winning ways after suffering a 1-0 defeat away to Yadah. Their coach Madinda Ndlovu however expressed confidence in his charges’ ability to rise to the occasion.
“We will go on with our game plan. It’s a different ball game altogether – ‘El Clasico’ is not like this game we played (Saturday against Yadah). Every player will probably lift (their game) and the fact that we are playing at home will probably motivate the players to want to play this game. So I think it’s one of the easiest games to prepare for because every player is geared for such kind of a game,” Ndlovu told the club’s official website.
Highlanders have enjoyed success in recent clashes between the two sides and last season, they beat Dynamos home and away, with Ozias Zibande scoring for Bosso in the team’s 1-0 victory at Rufaro Stadium.
In the reverse fixture at Barbourfields Stadium, Highlanders hammered Dynamos 3-0, with Tafadzwa Sibanda, Gabriel Nyoni and Newman Sianchali getting the goals.
However Dynamos, whose fortunes have improved ever since Tonderai Ndiraya replaced Lloyd Chigowe as head coach after four games will be eager to steal the bragging rights from their rivals.
Ndiraya, who has collected 12 points out of a possible 21 points from three wins, three draws and one defeat in his first seven games as Dynamos coach said he was relishing the opportunity to face their biggest rivals.
“It’s always been an interesting to play Highlanders, particularly at Babourfields Stadium. It’s one of the matches we’ve always been looking forward to as a club, we have enjoyed some support from the supporters based in that part of the country and it’s been really nice for us. I’m hoping that we will give them something on Sunday. It’s a game which we have really prepared for, it’s the arguably the biggest game on our football calendar,” he said ahead of the match.
The Harare giants head to Bulawayo on the back of a goalless draw against Manica Diamonds at Rufaro on Sunday while in their last away match they shocked champions FC Platinum 1-0 at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane.
Meanwhile the country’s topflight football league, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has suspended its season for two weeks to allow local clubs and its supporters to watch the Warriors in action at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals which kicks off in Cairo, Egypt on Friday.
Zimbabwe are in Group A at the Afcon tournament, together with Egypt, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Warriors face off with the hosts in the opening match of the tournament at the 80 000 Cairo International Stadium on Friday, a match which will surely general a lot of interest not only in Zimbabwe and Egypt, but globally.
The break will commence this coming Monday after the Match-day 12 games and runs until the 5th of July.
According to a statement by the PSL, the move is meant to allow the fans to focus on supporting the Warriors who are taking part in this year’s edition of the tournament.
“The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League will take a break from the 17th of June to the 5th of July to support the Warriors as they take part in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon). The PSL matches will resume on Saturday, July 6, 2019,” said PSL spokesperson Kudzai Bare.
Castle Lager PSL Matchday 12 fixtures
Saturday: Bulawayo Chiefs v FC Platinum (Luveve), Chapungu v Yadah (Mandava), Black Rhinos v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Harare City v Herentals (Rufaro)
Sunday: Caps United v TelOne (National Sports Stadium), Triangle United v Chicken Inn (Gibbo), Mushowani Stars v Hwange (Rufaro), Highlanders v Dynamos (Barbourfields), Manica Diamonds v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Vengere)