Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS have every reason to feel pumped up ahead of the Castle Lager Premiership football clash with bitter rivals Dynamos at Rufaro tomorrow. The Bulawayo giants are expected to descend on the capital high in confidence following their remarkable transformation under the tutelage of Dutch coach Pieter Hendrik de Jongh. De Jongh is only but a month into the job, but he has given Bosso players the courage to express themselves and play without fear.
The results on the ground have given the Bosso family renewed hope after the club recovered from a difficult start this year, and are now aiming for a strong finish.
The clubs are tied on 39 points on the log standings, but Highlanders have a better goal difference in sixth place, while Dynamos are seventh.
De Jongh played Dynamos in his first match after he got clearance to work in Zimbabwe and managed a 1-0 win in the first round of the Chibuku Super Cup at Rufaro.
Fireworks are always expected every time the two teams play no matter their form. However, the clashes sometimes fail to live up to the billing.
Highlanders have dominated the league clashes between the country’s biggest teams in the last four years.
The Glamour Boys last beat Highlanders in open play in 2015 at Rufaro, thanks to a brace from Ronald Chitiyo and another goal from Qadr Amini, which dwarfed Knox Mtizwa’s double. But since then, the clubs have met in eight league matches, with Highlanders winning five times and drawing twice.
Dynamos won twice, but the other victory came via the boardroom after the match was abandoned at Barbourfields following a hotly disputed goal by ex-Dynamos’ Cameroonian import Christian Ntouba in 2017.
Many changes have taken place in the two teams over the years, and it’s unfortunate the match comes when Dynamos feel they are at their weakest.
DeMbare have struggled this year despite retaining their place in the top half of the log table.
Tonderai Ndiraya’s men have been weighed down by a spate of poor results, including an unwanted record of 15 draws in the 28 matches played to date.
This is their highest number of draws in over a decade. Ndiraya has been calling for a response from his boys, but they will go into this match having drawn their last seven games.
DeMbare have been boosted by the return of their veteran skipper Edward Sadomba for this match. The forward missed the 1-1 draw against Manica Diamonds in the midweek. Midlands State University student Tawanda Macheke is also back after completing his examinations.
“It hasn’t been a very good year for us. We have had a bad start, had injuries to our key players along the way and we played too many draws. That is why you see Highlanders, who were struggling all along, are now equal with us on points.
“We have to move into the next gear by starting to win games. There are games which we could have easily won, but ended up in stalemates. The problem has been that we are failing to defend our lead most of the times. It happened in the games against Chicken Inn, ZPC Kariba and lately with Manica Diamonds.
“We have been talking about it and we all agreed that we have to win this match to boost our campaign. It’s very crucial, remember Highlanders have beaten us twice this year. So we are urging our supporters to come in numbers and be the 12th man,” said Dynamos team manager, Richard Chihoro.