By Ricky Zililo
Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu has demanded that his players win the Chibuku Super Cup and fight for a top four finish in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League to prove that the club’s rebuilding project is on the right track.
Bosso are already out of the championship race and presently sit seventh on the league table with 39 points from 26 games.
They open their Chibuku Super Cup campaign against unpredictable Yadah at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Ndlovu, who leads Bosso’s rebuilding exercise, and has been preaching the “don’t pressure my boys” gospel, sprung a shocker yesterday by revealing that he had demanded his players to justify their stay in the first team and possibly seal their fate at the club by adhering to his two targets.
“This is the first time that I’m making a demand to my players. The Chibuku Super Cup is the only meaningful competition that we have to try and compete for. I’ve said to them, go out and get something if you want to keep your positions next year,” said Ndlovu.
“We are not taking chances against Yadah. This is the only cup that can bring the hope that we need as we continue with the project we embarked on. We also want to win it for our loyal fans that have been supportive of the project,” he said.
Highlanders go into Sunday’s game smarting from back-to-back league defeats to Mutare City Rovers (1-0) and ZPC Kariba (2-0).
Ndlovu believes the congested fixtures and gruelling road trips to Mutare and Kariba were a test of character for his charges.
“Obviously we were not happy to lose, but the trips were a learning curve for the boys and good lessons because they now understand the demands of the Premiership. We’ve put behind whatever transpired in those two games and are now looking forward to the Chibuku Super Cup where we face a stubborn team that has been posting good results,” Ndlovu said.
Following a shock 1-0 away loss to Mutare City Rovers, Ndlovu said he is now wary of the so-called small teams and wants maximum concentration from his lads against Yadah.
The Highlanders versus Yadah cup game is a dress rehearsal of their next league encounter. The two teams drew 0-0 in the first part of the season.
Bosso will be hoping to invoke the spirit that led them to a memorable 3-0 massacre of Dynamos the last time they played at Barbourfields Stadium before their two fruitless trips to Mutare and Kariba.
Combative midfielder Adrian Silla, who missed the defeat to ZPC Kariba due to a family bereavement, is again doubtful for the cup game.
Ever improving left-back Mbongeni Ndlovu, who picked an injury at the bumpy Vhengere Stadium where they lost to Mutare City, has been training with a limp.
With coach Ndlovu eager to win the Chibuku Super Cup, he is unlikely to tinker with the team by introducing novices.
Senior players, such as goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, defenders Peter Muduhwa, Tendai Ndlovu and McClive Phiri, the midfield trio of Brian Banda, Nigel Makumbe and Denzel Khumalo as well as forwards Newman Sianchali, Tafadzwa Sibanda and Gabriel Nyoni will be expected to lead Highlanders’ quest for victory.
Today: Harare City v Bulawayo City (Rufaro)
Tomorrow: FC Platinum v Chapungu (Mandava), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Herentals (Baobab), Black Rhinos v Nichrut (National Sports Stadium), Dynamos v Bulawayo Chiefs (Rufaro)
Sunday: Highlanders v Yadah (Barbourfields), Caps United v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Triangle United v Shabanie Mine (Gibbo). The Chronicle