Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
BULAWAYO-based soccer fans are in for a treat, when the city’s three Premiership sides — Chicken Inn, Highlanders and Bantu Rovers take on Power Dynamos of Zambia in international friendly matches.
The Zambian side which arrived in Bulawayo on Thursday night will face 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions Chicken Inn at Luveve Stadium this afternoon and tomorrow they play against city giants Highlanders at the same venue.
Power Dynamos will wrap up their pre-season tour of Bulawayo with a game against newly promoted PSL side Bantu Rovers.
In an interview on the sidelines of their meeting with Chicken Inn’s secretary-general Tawengwa Hara and Gamecocks’ manager Sikhumbuzo Banda, Power Dynamos coach Dan Kabwe said they brought along an experienced side.
Among experienced players that Power Dynamos brought is the trio of goalkeeper Joshua Ditima, defenders Francis Kasonda and Hichani Himonde who were part of Zambia’s squad that won the 2012 Afcon Cup.
They also have striker Fwayo Tembo, left back Lawrence Chungu, goalkeeper Allan Chibwe, attacking midfielder Kelvin Kampanga and Alex Ngonga who are members of Chipolopolo.
“We’re here for high quality pre-season games. We believe that the three sides (Chicken Inn, Highlanders and Bantu Rovers are going to give us a good run for our money. We’ve got a balanced squad and want to see the team continuing from where we left last season. The only player who is not with us is Patson Daka who is with the national Under-20 and has already signed for an Austrian side,” said Kabwe.
The Power Dynamos gaffer who is also a technical advisor for Zambian FA, said he is also on a scouting mission.
“Besides fine-tuning our preparations for the season which kicks off in a few weeks’ time, we’re on a scouting mission. You see, it’s better to get a player from the neighbouring country than from say Nigeria or other West African countries because the cultures are different. I once tried to get two Chicken Inn centrebacks Lawrence Mhlanga and Teenage Hadebe but failed. I heard Teenage is going to Kaizer Chiefs but we found no joy with Lawrence. If ever we see players that we might want, I’m sure after establishing relations with Chicken Inn, Highlanders and Bantu Rovers it mustn’t be difficult to get players from them or vice-versa,” Kabwe said.
Chicken Inn will also be giving some of their new players like Innocent Mucheneka whom they signed from Hwange, striker Adrian Banana who has been recalled from Bulawayo Chiefs where he was on loan and goalkeeper Wandile Ndlovu who spent last season at Talen Vision, an apportunity to demonstrate that they deserve to be in the team.
The Gamecocks boast experienced players in the form of goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze, defenders Hadebe, Guide Goddard, Moses Jackson and Passmore Bernard, midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Thabani Goredema and Clemence Matawu and striker Obidiah Tarumbwa.
Tomorrow, the Zambians will find another real test when they play Highlanders who will be playing their first 2017 match in front of their supporters.
Bosso will be hard-pressed for a convincing performance so that they get a seal of approval from their hard-to-please followers.
Among players expected to lead Highlanders are goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, defender Peter Muduhwa, utility player Erick Mudzingwa, midfielders Simon Munawa, Rahman Kutsanzira and Allan Gahadzikwa as well as strikers Rodrick Mutuma, Ralph Matema, Prince Dube and Gabriel Nyoni.
However, eyes will be on Highlanders’ newly signed players Mutuma, Manuel Esono Obiang Buale of Equatorial Guinea and democratic Republic of Congo’s Tambwe Kalunga.
On Tuesday, Power Dynamos will wrap their tour with a date against Bantu Rovers at Luveve Stadium.
The visitors may underrate the youthful Bantu Rovers at their own peril as the latter, made up of unheralded players, will be keen to test their capabilities against strong opposition.
Bantu Rovers have experienced defender Dumisani Fazo Ndlovu and national Under-20 striker Bukhosi Sibanda to bank on.