Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
NEVER has a team gone into a home encounter as clear cut underdogs yet this is exactly the situation that Bulawayo giants Highlanders find themselves in as they collide with title darkhorses, Black Rhinos, at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
The match kicks off at 1PM so as to allow visiting Burundi side Rukinzo to train at the venue at 3PM ahead of their Total Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round first leg tie against Triangle United tomorrow.
Caf and Fifa rules stipulate that its mandatory for a visiting team to have a feel of the match venue at the exact time that the match will kick off.
So, by the time that other teams in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League kick off their matches today, Highlanders fans will be trooping out of Emagumeni, in two possible states, happiness or anguish.
That Bosso go into this encounter as underdogs is not in any doubt, judging by their performance against another military side Chapungu in a midweek clash where even head coach Mandla Mpofu conceded that they did not play their usual brand of exciting football.
“It wasn’t an exciting win, not at all, even though of course we are happy we managed to grind a result,” said Mpofu in his post match press conference on Wednesday.
However, what was worrying for the Highlanders technical brains and indeed their ever loyal fans, was the fatigue exhibited by their players especially defender Peter Muduhwa, midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku and striker Prince Dube who had been in action with the national team three days earlier.
Mpofu said he was worried about the recovery rate of these players, especially the stocky Masuku who now reminds many of the late great Willard Mashinkila Khumalo.
It’s not a secret that Chauya Chipembere are a very physical outfit who will come to Bulawayo with one objective, to collect maximum points and keep their title charge very much alive. They have probably seen the possibility of freedom on the horizon and like true soldiers, wouldn’t want to let that opportunity slip away so easily.
While Black Rhinos are aware of the title possibility, they are also most certainly aware that today’s match is not just against any other side in the league; this is Highlanders, backed by a vociferous crowd who will do anything to make sure their team wins at all costs.
Bosso have not lost in four games, picking up two wins and a similar number of draws.
Another title contender, Chicken Inn, denied maximum points and a chance to go top of the standings by TelOne during midweek, are again on the road to Nyamhunga Stadium to face ZPC Kariba while Hwange visit Yadah, TelOne is at home to the Students, Herentals.
Today: Highlanders vs Black Rhinos (1PM)
ZPC Kariba vs Chicken Inn FC, Bulawayo Chiefs vs Chapungu, Yadah vs Hwange, TelOne vs Herentals
Tomorrow: Manica Diamonds vs Caps United, Dynamos vs Mushowani Stars
Wednesday: Ngezi Platinum vs Triangle United,
FC Platinum vs Harare City