Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Premier Soccer League Silver Jubilee season gets underway next weekend after the 2017 fixtures were released.
There are five potentially exciting weeks in the first half of the season that soccer fans should look forward to, beginning with Week 1 when former champions Dynamos lock horns with perennial championship campaigners FC Platinum in Harare before DeMbare take on city rivals and champions Caps United in Week 7.
The whole country comes to a virtual standstill in Week 8 when the two biggest sides in the land and fiercest rivals Highlanders and Dynamos collide at Barbourfields in a match that both sets of fans are eagerly awaiting due to the Rodrick Mutuma factor.
Mutuma did the unthinkable by floor-crossing from DeMbare to the zebra striped army during the off-season.
Bosso will play host to regional rivals FC Platinum in Week 11 before closing the first half of the season on the road to Harare to face Caps United, a side they will also wrap up the season against at Barbourfields Stadium.
Bosso coach Erol Akbay said they will take each match as a final and not pay any particular attention to who they play. His side open their season’s account with a derby against municipal side Bulawayo City.
“To us every game will be a final, there won’t be any important or less important game for Highlanders. We must do our best to beat, not only our first opponents, but all the teams in the league,” said Akbay.
Highlanders’ fans will be hoping that the team doesn’t flatter only to deceive like they did last season. Bosso made some meaningful additions to their squad and fans will be hoping the new additions live up to expectations by delivering.
This season marks the 11th since Bosso last celebrated a league title and a lot of pressure will be on the technical staff throughout the campaign.
Bulawayo City coach Mandla Mpofu said it was a bit sad that they’d be meeting Highlanders this early into the season, although they were still going to meet anyway.
“We have been preparing for the season, but to be honest it’s a bit sad that we are meeting a giant this early. Anyway we also realise that in any event we were going to square up against them. They are gunning for the title, so we hear, but as Bulawayo City we believe we are also ready, so let the ball roll,” said Mpofu.
Bulawayo will witness two derbies in Week 1, with new boys Bantu Rovers squaring up against 2015 champions Chicken Inn, who are under coach Rahman Gumbo.
“We are ready to compete. We were waiting for any team that they would have given us in our first game, but the first game is important and we must give a good impression,” said Gumbo.
The only Bulawayo team that will be on the road in Week 1 is How Mine away to ZPC Kariba, and head coach Kelvin Kaindu believes travelling to Nyamhunga Stadium this early will be good for them.
“It’s always a very long journey to Kariba, but we believe playing them this early is good for us. It helps us to plan.
“We are also hoping for our good fortunes against them to continue,” said Kaindu.
Hwange, hard hit by a player exodus that saw almost their entire first team players leaving for greener pastures, will be away to Tsholotsho, a side that must forever remain grateful to Zifa for standing their ground that only two teams will be relegated last season.
Caps United will begin their title defence on the road to Zvishavane to face new boys Shabanie Mine, a team that they held to a 0-0 draw in 2014, the year the Chinda Boys were relegated.