Tadious Manyepo in HARARE and Ricky Zililo in BULAWAYO
NGEZI Platinum Stars have allayed security fears ahead of their blockbuster top-of-the-table Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash against Highlanders at Baobab tomorrow. Both teams are marching into tomorrow’s battle having gone for seven games without defeat.
The hosts are topping the standings after amassing 19 points while their guests are two points behind on second place.
And whoever prevails in tomorrow’s battle will top the log going into the ninth round of PSL fixtures.
But with the Bulawayo giants drawing huge crowds both at home and away, the Mhondoro platinum miners are aware of the possible security breaches and have since devised means to deal with any possibility of mayhem which may arise from the titanic clash.
Last season Baobab witnessed ugly violent scenes when hooligans broke the perimeter fence and moved onto the pitch during a match against Dynamos which both teams needed to win in the final stages of the marathon to enhance their chances of securing the title.
Fans broke the perimeter fence and invaded the pitch in a match that was eventually won by the hosts on a 3-0 scoreline.
Ngezi Platinum Stars chairman, Jeremiah Gesitene, said the club had engaged both sets of supporters to work together with security personnel and club marshals to ensure peace prevails.
Both sets of coaches, Madinda Ndlovu for Highlanders and Tonderai Ndiraya of Ngezi, have promised fireworks.
“Soccer is a sport for the whole family. It is a sport which is intended to bring together people from all walks of life,” said Gesitene.
“We have to respect others through this game.
“It is in this spirit that we have engaged our supporters to ensure that people desist from violence on the day. We are also certain that Highlanders FC have also engaged their supporters with the same message of non-violence.
“Be that as it may, we have made infrastructural security improvements at the stadium following last season’s unfortunate disturbances.
“These measures include a clear demarcation between home and away supporters’ bays and marking them accordingly. In terms of match day security, marshals from both teams will be working closely with law enforcement officials in managing any issues that may arise from the anticipated crowd.
“The security measures in place are there to guarantee a pleasant and safe game for everyone. We believe that both sets of supporters will heed the call for respect for each other and come to enjoy the game in their large numbers.’’
Bosso have been hit by injury woes as half-a-dozen key players are being monitored by the team’s medical staff ahead of tomorrow’s match.
Madinda said central defender Tendai Ndlovu, right-back Bukhosi Ncube and left-back Honest Moyo, midfielder Nigel Makumbe, Thabo Lunga and striker Ozias Zibande were all in the casualty ward.
“Tactically I’m not really moved because we have put in place a strategy of playing away games and how to approach the so-called experienced teams,’’ he said.
“In that respect, I have lots of confidence that the boys will come to the party. My only major worry is that the number of injured players keeps increasing and we are not sure if some players that did duty last week will recover in time.
“But we’ve got a job ahead of us with the available players. We are very aware of the good run Ngezi have had so far, but we will play according to our strategy, although we are not going to be as smooth as we would like.
“I’m confident in the boys that will do duty, as it will be their time to showcase themselves and have to prove that they are also worth a starting slot.’’
Madinda said he was also happy with his defence.
“I’m very confident of my defence, they’ll do duty well. You can’t completely prevent teams you’re playing against from scoring, but what we know is that we’re also a free-scoring team. We’ve been scoring in our games.
“I’m not crucifying my players for the goals we’ve conceded; I can only commend them for learning because they’re still growing.’’