By Mehluli Sibanda
Highlanders have been boosted by the registration of Rodi Sibanda as well as Pritchard Mpelele ahead of their tricky Chibuku Super Cup Group 2 clash with Chicken Inn at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
Sibanda, who played in the Multichoice Diski Challenge for Orlando Pirates has been with Highlanders since March last year but Tshilamoya could not register him since he did not have an international transfer certificate, something that has since been resolved.
Mpelele on the other hand could not play for Highlanders because there was a dispute between Bosso and his former club Manica Diamonds who were demanding compensation since the player was with them the whole of last year but the issue has since been resolved, with the former Hwange and Harare City player now eligible to turn out for Amahlolanyama.
Before the availability of Sibanda and Mpelele, Highlanders coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu only had 19 players to choose from, three of them being goalkeepers. Now he has 21 out of the 26 players eligible to play but he is still two players short for his full matchday squad of 23.
Joel Ngodzo, Keith Mavunga, Winston Mhango who were in Zambia, Peter Muduhwa who was on loan at Simba Sports Club of Tanzania and Lynoth Chikuhwa who was in Botswana still cannot play for Highlanders since they do not have international transfer certificates, which are required for them to be issued player licences.
Chicken Inn defeated Bulawayo City 2-0 last Saturday at Emagumeni, with their goals coming from George Majika and Obriel Chirinda. The next day, at the same venue Bosso recorded a 1-0 triumph over Bulawayo Chiefs, the only goal of the match coming off Wellington Navaya who scored with a header on his official debut appearance for Highlanders. Mpofu was full of praise for Navaya, a player he described as a typical number nine who is not fancy but gets the job done.
“He came to a big institution, its not easy to play for Highlanders coming from outside town but he has shown that he can get better each game he plays. He is typical number nine, not a special player, his job is to score and he managed to score,” said Mpofu.
The Highlanders coach is hoping that the 22-year-old Navaya can keep on scoring in the absence of the hard to please Bosso fans so that he can get his confidence high.
Mpofu hinted at changes to the team that defeated Chiefs last Sunday. Against Chiefs, 25-year-old Future Sibanda, the second-choice keeper was chosen ahead of club skipper Ariel Sibanda in goals and he managed to keep a clean sheet. Chances are high that the older Sibanda will get to guard goals against Chicken Inn since the Gamecocks pose a much bigger threat compared to Amakhosi Amahle.
The Bosso defence made up of Chrispen Ncube, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Andrew Tandi and Andrew Mbeba was solid together with a Nqobizitha Masuku marshalled midfield. Adrian Silla, Divine Mhindirira as well as Ray Lunga partnered Masuku and the three were also outstanding while Godfrey Makaruse were subdued.
Joey Antipas’ men have for years dominated Highlanders since they joined the Big Boys league in 2011 and Bosso quiver every time they face their neighbours. Majika, Moses Jackson, Malvin Gaki, Brian Muza, Chirinda, Xolani Ndlovu and Brett Amidu are some of the arsenal that Antipas is banking on against Bosso. The Gamecocks have to do without defender Ian Nekati who lost his grandmother last week and had to travel to Harare. The Sunday News