By Ricky Zililo
With only one weekend left before the season starts, Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu is ready to unleash his youngsters into the 2018 Castle Lager Premiership battle.
The former Zimbabwe international, assigned to restore the Highlanders’ culture of promoting talented junior players to the senior team, is happy with how the Bosso project is shaping up.Ndlovu played his fourth competitive pre-season game against Caps United at Barbourfields Stadium and stunned the veterans 2-1.
Highlanders’ first pre-season game was a 0-0 draw against new boys Nichrut of Shurugwi, followed by a 2-1 win over Chicken Inn in the ZNA Charity Shield semi-final. Bosso then lost 2-1 to Dynamos in the ZNA Charity Shield final before going on to beat Caps United in the Vice President Kembo Mohadi Charity Shield.
Ndlovu heaped praises on his lads.
“From the moment I took over this job and went for pre-season camp, I was ready for the coming season. The question now is how ready are we? I think playing such games gives us a picture of what we are going to be facing or what to expect from these youngsters. The positive thing is the boys have shown very positive minds,” said Ndlovu.
“To me right now the boys have come in with lots of discipline; its only one incident (Honest Moyo getting a red card on Sunday) which is normal in a game of football. Discipline wise, the boys have been good; their character shows that they want to change the situation they were facing in the past. My wish is to have another final training game this weekend (March 10-11) to look at other players,” he said.
Ariel Sibanda: On Sunday the experienced goalkeeper made a stunning match-winning save to deny Caps United’s Wisdom Mutasa two minutes before the end of the game. He has good timing of the ball as well as one-on-ones. He is comfortable with the ball, can initiate moves from the back through excellent ball distribution. He is too soft to command his defenders and has to work on dealing with long range efforts. Against Chicken Inn and Dynamos, he spilled balls into the path of the opponents and conceded goals.
McClive Phiri: The right-back is proving to be a good find for Bosso and has been outstanding in the pre-season games. His ability to overlap, send in perfect crosses and recovery are his strengths. He scored a beauty against Caps United, starting the move from the back and finishing it off with aplomb. He adds numbers to Highlanders’ attacks and could score a number of goals this season.
Honest Moyo: The left-back and captain should learn to control his temper. At times his timing is poor and should know when to commit himself. The good thing is that he wins most duels and controls his defence. He rarely overlaps and when he does most of his deliveries into the box are not that good.
Peter Muduhwa: So far so good for the central defender who is proving to be a complete player. He defends well and even initiates attacks from the back.
His biggest problem is overconfidence in his own box, which often results in Bosso unnecessarily conceding goals.
Charlton Siamalonga: Not yet convinced that the slim built player, who used to play in the midfield or at left-back, can last the season in central defence. It seems Ndlovu is not going for power at the back, hence Siamalonga’s redeployment to the heart of defence, as he is composed and can start moves from the back. He needs to work on his stamina. His height might also prove to be his biggest undoing, especially when faced with tall and physically built players.
Adrian Silla: He has done well as a twin anchorman. Previous coaches rarely gave him much game time and he seems to have worked on his fitness and endurance levels. He’s enjoying himself and having been given a free role to express himself, Silla isn’t shy of taking shots at goal from distance. He will probably score more goals having been on target in three of Bosso’s pre-season games.
Ben Munsaka: For the first time in a very long time, Highlanders have a defensive midfielder capable of holding the ball, breaking opposition attacks and spreading the ball to the wings. He gives the defence cover and maintains the shape of the team.
Gabriel Nyoni: The speedster thrives on pace, but tends to destroy his team’s attacking moves by not knowing what to do with the ball. He needs to work a lot on his deliveries and utilise possession profitably after his hard running.
Brian Banda: He had a good game in midfield against Caps United playing simple football. The only thing he lacks is threading precise passes as most of his attempts are easily intercepted. Just like Silla, his potential wasn’t seen in the past.
Thabo Lunga: Described as an intelligent and promising striker by coach Ndlovu, the young striker is good at getting himself into scoring positions. He has to work on his confidence and ignore the booing crowd. He showed flashes of brilliance with some attempts at goal.
Newman Sianchali: He is using his experience well. Three Caps United defenders struggled to contain him. He, however, needs to utilise half chances that come his way. A goal will definitely give him the confidence he needs.
Nigel Makombe: So far so good for the attacking midfielder, who joined from FC Platinum. He is one player to watch for the future. His major weakness is holding onto the ball for too long, but he excites his coaches.
Godfrey Makaruse: The left-footed attacking midfielder is down with a groin injury, but in matches he played, he proved to be a vital cog in the Highlanders’ attack. He has pace, can dribble and this season is his time to shine. He is capable of creating his own scoring opportunities.
Bukhosi Ncube: The arrival of McClive Phiri pushed Ncube out of the team. He has to get himself out of the comfort zone and fight for a jersey. Unlike Phiri who overlaps and delivers perfect crosses, Ncube rarely surges upfront. His advantage though is that he can also play as a left-back.
Ozias Zibande: Still early days to rate him, but the fact that he has fallen down the order, with Ndlovu preferring Sianchali and Lunga, means Zibande needs to work harder. He has to make the most of whatever opportunity he gets to hold down a place in the starting line-up this season.
Ray Lunga: The pint-sized midfielder hasn’t seen much action. He showed glimpses of brilliance against Chicken Inn playing as a winger. He must make use of his pace and skill. His short height and lack of stamina are his weaknesses.
Tendai Ndlovu: The central defender played a few minutes against Caps United, but committed fouls in dangerous zones. To reclaim his place, he needs to work on his timing.
Munyaradzi Chitambwe: The former Bantu Rovers central midfielder knows how to keep his position. He has to work hard as he competes against Silla and Munsaka. Just like Munsaka, Chitambwe is comfortable with the ball and can also switch play.
Mbongeni Ndlovu: Promoted from Bosso 90 and is yet to play.
Prosper Matutu: Promising goalkeeper, who needs to work on dealing with crosses.
Nedrick Madeya: He is a playful goalkeeper who needs to be serious if he is to effectively compete for a starting jersey. The Chronicle