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Battle of coaches . . . Highlanders, FC Platinum lock horns

By Innocent Kurira

It’s not often that focus is exclusively on coaches when the country’s big teams clash but the focus for the looming Castle Challenge Cup pitting Highlanders and FC Platinum will certainly be in the dugout.

Mark Harrison and Hendrik Pieter de Jongh
Mark Harrison and Hendrik Pieter de Jongh

The date of the season curtain raiser hasn’t been announced but football fans are already getting excited at the prospect of watching the battle of foreign coaches involving Mark Harrison and Hendrik Pieter de Jongh.

The tie is played between the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions and winners of the Chibuku Super Cup. The Cup match used to be played as the last game of the season but was moved to become a season opener this year after the 2019 season ended in mid-December.

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Harrison and De Jongh were announced as head coaches of Highlanders and FC Platinum respectively this week setting up a potentially thrilling dugout battle.

De Jongh coached Bosso for the final four months of last season, helping them to a respectable sixth place finish and Chibuku Super Cup glory.

He had become a Bosso fans’ favourite and the Dutchman always savoured victory walks to the appreciative Soweto-end crowd.

His move to FC Platinum means the Bosso faithful will now turn on him for dumping them for the Zvishavane miners and a hostile reception awaits him when the two sides clash at Barbourfields Stadium.

Both coaches will be hoping to kick-start their careers at their new clubs on a winning note and fans will not have to wait long to watch the two coaches going head to head.

“This one is certainly a must-watch. I believe the two coaches are the most travelled and experienced coaches in the country and therefore this should be a battle of the minds,” said one fan Allen Ndlovu.

His sentiments were echoed by Lifa Ndebele, a Bosso fan, who would love to see Bosso get one over De Jongh.

“The Dutchman showed how good he is when he came to Bosso. Harrison also did a great job with Harare City and Caps United. Both coaches are good and that matches involving Bosso and FC Platinum have always been exciting means we are guaranteed a great game of football. However, l would love to see Bosso win this one,” Ndebele said.

“I love how Harrison’s teams play and l think it will be easy for him to introduce his philosophy at Bosso. At the same time, De Jongh knows Bosso very well, having led their recovery last season. l think the odds will be balanced.”

De Jongh arrived at Bosso in September and enjoyed a successful four-month spell, which culminated in the club winning the Chibuku Super Cup.

Bosso offered him a new improved contract, which he turned down, saying he wanted to pursue new challenges. His move to Zvishavane did not go down well with most Bosso fans, who had fallen in love with his work.

Bosso replaced the Dutchman with Harrison, who previously managed the Bangladesh national team from 2000-2001, coached South African sides, Mpumalanga Black Aces, African Warriors, Bay Stars, Chippa United and Golden Arrows.

He also had a two-year stint with Township Rollers in Botswana. The Chronicle

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