BY FORTUNE MBELE
All roads lead to Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon as Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions Chicken Inn come face-to-face with city rivals Highlanders in the NetOne-sponsored EasyCall Cup final.
The final will mark the end of action for the 2015 soccer season.
Today’s match will especially bring good old memories to Highlanders fans as the last time that a Cup final was played at Barbourfields was when Highlanders beat How Mine 3-0 in the Mbada Diamonds Cup in 2013.
This final comes a week after the semi-finals, which were also played at Emagumeni with the GameCocks clobbering CAPS United 3-0 in a violence-marred match last Saturday, while Bosso dismissed former league champions Dynamos 2-1 the following day.
The sponsors and organisers, NetOne and the Premier Soccer League, were left with no option, but to take the final back to Barbourfields after the two Bulawayo teams progressed to the final.
They have, however, condemned the violence that reared its ugly head last weekend, forcing the CAPS United/Chicken Inn match to end prematurely.
The Sunday tie pitting Highlanders and Dynamos was also characterised by incidents of pitch invasion as Highlanders fans celebrated their first win in nine years over DeMbare in their own fortress.
Highlanders and Chicken Inn matches have been peaceful affairs, save for the ill-tempered league match when the GameCocks were promoted into top-flight in May 2011, which Bosso won 2-1 at Luveve. The PSL has promised tight security during the final which will be beamed live on SuperSport.
Bosso has won only once against Chicken Inn in 10 outings since 2011. This year, Chicken Inn beat Bosso in league matches, 2-1 in May and 3-2 in August.
However, Highlanders coach Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu says Bosso are not under pressure facing the league champions.
“It’s really a good thing that we are getting into this game as underdogs. We are going in there to just play our game. They are the champions, we have lost twice to them and we fit the underdog tag,” said Zulu.
“I watched them play CAPS United and they are a good side. As Highlanders, we have to up our game and our boys must have character. It’s Chicken Inn who are under pressure, they want a double and we just want the Cup.
“But we must win or lose honourably. We don’t want people to spoil the day by throwing missiles into the pitch. We want this to be a memorable occasion for the Highlanders family.”
Bosso are without striker Obadiah Tarumbwa and central defender Erick Mudzingwa, who are suspended for picking two yellow cards each. Chief striker Knox Mutizwa, however, arrived on Thursday night from trials at Bidvest Wits in South Africa and was expected to join the rest of the team on Friday.
Chicken Inn gaffer Joey Antipas says both sides are under pressure ahead of the match.
“Both teams are under pressure. We want to do a double and they want to win a trophy and appease their fans. We will just go in there and execute our game plan,” Antipas said.
Clemence Matawu, Michelle Katsvairo, Edmore Chirambadare and George Majika carry Chicken Inn’s hopes for a double with skipper Danny Phiri in defensive midfield.
Last year Chicken Inn held Highlanders 1-1 and beat them 1-0 in the league after having achieved the same feat in 2013.
In 2012 they played two goalless draws.