By Ngqwele Dube
Highlanders and Dynamos put aside their arch rivalry to come together in a spirit of camaraderie this afternoon as they clash at Barbourfields Stadium in a celebratory match for Bosso’s 90th anniversary.
Highlanders, one of Zimbabwe’s most popular and highly decorated football clubs, was founded in 1926 by the grandsons of the Ndebele monarch, King Lobengula, Rhodes and Albert Khumalo, together with their friends.
Despite the celebratory mood that will engulf BF today, there would be no love lost on the pitch between the two sides, whose rivalry has lit up Zimbabwean soccer and provided the greatest battles.
Highlanders coach, Erol Akbay said they are selecting the best players for the match.
Akbay said matches between the country’s biggest rivals always call for the best performance and he would approach the match no differently.
“Any match against Dynamos always calls for the best performance even though we are celebrating, we know that in the field of play we have to come up with the best team that would ensure we come out tops,” said Akbay.
He said any match between the two sides was important and facing each other was enough reason for both clubs to field their best players but added that those included in his team would also be influenced by the number of substitutes allowed.
He, however, urged fans to be cognisant of the fact it is a celebratory match as much as they are rivals, it was this fierce competition that made local football exciting adding the game should bring the Dynamos and Highlanders families together.
Highlanders fielded a relatively young side in their last Premiership encounter against Hwange and the up-and-coming stars showed great potential winning the match 3-0 and some fans were of the opinion that Akbay could also field the same side today.
Highlanders acting chairman, Modern Ngwenya echoed Akbay’s sentiments saying they want to continue with their dominance over Dynamos this year.
“Any game against Dynamos is competitive and there is no friendly. We beat them 2-0 at Rufaro and to show that it was no fluke, we won 2-1 in the reverse encounter at BF. We have dominated them this season and we continue to show that the DeMbare ghost is buried.
“We not only beat them twice but the final positions on the log standings show we were the better side this year,” he said.
Two curtain raisers before the game are set to attract crowds with Highlanders FC fans clashing with their Dynamos counterparts in the first match at 11.30AM and Highlanders Legends would then take on the Bulawayo Media Select at 1PM before the main match.
The two games are set to add to the excitement leading towards the main game.
Ngwenya said the day will be punctuated by music and dance with Gregory Ncube, Clement Magwaza and Harsh Touch set to entertain the crowd at BF and Highlanders Clubhouse after the match.
Some of the events held this year to mark Highlanders’ 90th anniversary included visiting the graves of the club’s founders, a multi-discipline sports festival, exhibiting at this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, a raffle draw that saw fans winning original club replicas and visits by schoolchildren to watch Highlanders playing at home.
In an interview with The Chronicle in 1997, one of the founding players, the late Nsele Hlabangana said the team was formed to stave off boredom.
Hlabangana, who was part of the founding team along with his brother Jeremiah and Charlton Ngcebetsha, said the royal grandsons, on arrival from South Africa, found it boring with no social amenities and decided to start the team in Makokoba with the popular venue being Efusini.
Highlanders’ name has over the years become associated with professionalism and quality administration and remains one of the few local clubs to own club offices and a clubhouse. Sunday News