By Ricky Zililo
IT’S not looking pretty for Highlanders FC who have been fighting relegation from the start of the season and continue to battle for survival with 12 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League games left.
Bosso are on a downward spiral and on Sunday they slipped from 13th to 14th place on the 18-team league table, tied on 25 points with Harare City and Mushowani Stars, who have scored more goals.
The ailing Bulawayo giants need to wake up, smell the coffee and let it sink in that if they don’t awake from their slumber, relegation is a reality.
Bosso could be on the same path the former mighty Zimbabwe Saints travelled and their rich history won’t save them as long as good results continue to elude them on the field of play.
No one is now buying the tired story of “beautiful football, but no victory” and the technical team insisting that it’s not pressing the panic button yet.
The truth is that Bosso presently occupy the last relegation slot and for the Mandla Mpofu headed technical team not to press panic buttons with 12 games before the season ends is perhaps a tacit admission that it has failed and its best is not good enough to steer the team out of the relegation zone.
Bosso have been more or less playing in these muddy relegation waters since the start of the season and panic buttons should have been pressed midway through and it’s laughable to believe that the team is capable of scrambling for survival points in the last 12 games after struggling in most of the past 22.
Celebrating clean sheets from goalless draws shows the extent of desperation at Bosso who are looking for any scrap of good news in the midst of the reality of a dire relegation fight before them.
In their latest goalless draw against Hwange on Sunday, Highlanders dominated the home team, but impotence upfront that has haunted them from the beginning was their Achilles’ Heel.
That Highlanders have managed to score only 13 goals in 22 outings, less than the 14 goals banged in by former Chicken Inn gunman Clive Augusto before he left for the South African Premiership in July is proof of how extremely poor Bosso strikers have been all season. Even log anchors, Yadah, have scored 14 goals.
Dynamos striker Evans Katema has scored 10 goals and is likely to outscore the entire Bosso squad.
It’s actually a mockery that goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda is the club’s joint top goal scorer on three goals alongside pint-sized winger Ray Lunga. Chief strikers, Prince Dube and Tinashe Makanda have two goals each, with defender Peter Muduhwa and midfielders Nqobizitha Masuku and Cleopas Kapupurika having a goal each.
Now with 12 games to save a dreadful campaign, Highlanders are left with tricky encounters.
They have an outstanding first half of the season fixture against Bulawayo Chiefs.
Their next game is against inconsistent title chasing Chicken Inn, who were beaten 2-0 at home by Manica Diamonds. Chicken Inn beat Highlanders 3-0 in the first-leg and are capable of completing a double over their city rivals, a result that will further condemn Bosso to the deep-end of the murky relegation waters.
Bosso will then face relegation threatened Herentals, who held them to a 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture, before facing a revived TelOne.
Highlanders pipped TelOne 1-0 in the first-leg, but the Wi-Fi Boys have their tails up after edging Ngezi Platinum Stars 1-0 this past weekend.
Highlanders will then visit table-toppers ZPC Kariba, before welcoming Yadah and making the trip to Harare to face Dynamos. After that blockbuster tie, they will host Ngezi followed by a trip to the home of champions FC Platinum followed by two home games against Manica Diamonds and Bulawayo Chiefs.
Bosso will wrap the season with an away trip to Gweru for a date against Chapungu.
Mpofu remains hopeful that his side will rise.
“It’s a bad phase that we’re going through and at times you wonder what else you can do for the boys to score when we create numerous scoring opportunities. We do retain the ball well, try to open opponents, but fail to score even easier chances.
“What is important is to keep on working hard and I believe if we get just one win that will open things. That victory should be soon so that we end the season in a respectable position. It’s possible to be in the top half when the season ends because we are four points behind the team that is ninth (Chapungu),” said Mpofu.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League results
Saturday: TelOne 1-0 Ngezi Platinum Stars, Chicken Inn 0-2 Manica Diamonds, ZPC Kariba 1-1 Dynamos
Sunday: Hwange 0-0 Highlanders, Mushowani Stars 2-1 Chapungu
Tomorrow: Harare City vs Caps United (Rufaro), Yadah vs Bulawayo Chiefs (National Sports Stadium). The Chronicle