Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE trio of Highlanders players – Ariel Sibanda, Prince Dube and Andrew Mbeba – who bagged awards at the Soccer Star of the Year banquet on Friday night say helping the club to a top-four finish will mark a perfect season for their team.
Sibanda made it to the top 11 stars by winning the Goalkeeper of the Year accolade having already kept 16 clean sheets with two matches left, while striker Dube on seven goals, was the second runner-up to Soccer Star of the Year Joel Ngodzo and first runner-up Ralph Kawondera.
Young defender Mbeba who established a solid partnership at central defence with seasoned Peter Muduhwa took the Rookie of the Year award.
Highlanders are fifth on the table with 45 points, one behind ZPC Kariba.
On Wednesday, Highlanders take on giant killers Bulawayo Chiefs in a local derby.
“Obviously it’s an honour to be recognised among the best 11 players in the country and to win the goalkeeper of the year award is the icing of the cake. I’m grateful to everyone who played a part in me winning the award. However, there’s no time to celebrate because there are two league games left and on Wednesday we play tricky Bulawayo Chiefs. Our aim is to finish the season strongly and a top four finish will cap a fine season for the Highlanders family,” said Sibanda.
After clearing the Chiefs hurdle, Highlanders will finish their 2019 campaign with an away trip to Gweru for a date with Chapungu.
Dube, brilliant for club and country, has been scoring beautiful goals that even helped Highlanders win the Chibuku Super Cup.
For a player whose career suffered a setback when he failed to get game time at South Africa’s Supersport before terminating his contract and coming to relaunch his career at Bosso, Dube is grateful to the club.
“There was a time when I was down and never thought I will be part of the 11 best players selected in the league, let alone be in the top three and be the second runner-up. This has been a great season, where we went through some tough times as a club but managed to fight back and look where we are now. We won the Chibuku Super Cup and now I want to help the club to a better finish. A respectable finish is what everyone wants, the fans, players and executive,” said Dube.
Last season Highlanders finished on position five behind champions FC Platinum, Ngezi Platinum Stars, Chicken Inn and Triangle United. Then, Bosso managed 51 points and winning the remaining two matches will see them equal last season’s points tally.
Mbeba, a member of the Young Warriors is inspired to do better after winning the rookie award.
“I’m happy that I’ve been repaid for my hard work. As a young player, my seniors have really been helpful in terms of motivating me and I will keep working hard to improve my game and help the team. My wish is to end the season on a high note by winning against Bulawayo Chiefs and Chapungu. They are tricky games but I believe we can do it,” Mbeba said.
ZPC Kariba, who are on position four are left with what appears to be relatively easy games against relegated Mushowani Stars and Hwange who will be axed from the league should they lose to TelOne on Wednesday.