BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
IN the past, this is the kind of game that would decide the destiny of the league title. But of late it’s a match that is used to confirm who is in a worse position between the two traditional giants of Zimbabwe football.
Highlanders — currently in the relegation zone going into the week 12 fixtures — host bitter rivals Dynamos — who have their fair share of problems — in an epic clash at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
It’s almost unbelievable that Highlanders, with their rich culture of manufacturing top strikers over the years, have the joint worst strike force with just five goals in 11 matches.
The Bulawayo giants have failed to score a goal in seven matches so far this season, while Dynamos have scored two better than their rivals at this stage.
A defeat for Highlanders will all but confirm a full-blown crisis at the club or even cost coach Madinda Ndlovu his job; and for Dynamos, it would mean that they are in a graver situation than they think.
“Of course, they [Highlanders] are struggling, we are also struggling, but in terms of improvement, we are way ahead of Highlanders. We are taking confidence from that fact,” DeMbare coach Tonderai Ndiraya said.
“It’s always interesting to play Highlanders, especially at Barbourfields; those are the matches we always look forward to as a club. We have enjoyed some ‘home support’ from our supporters in that part of the country, so we are hoping that we will give them something to cheer on Sunday,” he added.
Dynamos had the worst possible start to the season losing three of their first four matches, a record that cost the then coach Lloyd Chigove his job.
The country’s most decorated club has been on an upward trajectory since Ndiraya took the reins and a win over Bosso will be a major stamp on the job, the former Ngezi Platinum Stars coach has done.
Ndiraya was livid last week after his inexperienced squad played a goalless draw against Manica Diamonds. This week the message to the lads is simple.
“The simple message is these are the games in which you market yourself as a player, a big game with huge crowds and will be beamed live on TV. This is the time to shine, the time to make your mark, the time to make your name,” Ndiraya said.
DeMbare will be buoyed by the return to full fitness of skipper Edward Sadomba and the foreign imports of Herve Mbega, Junior Nkahan and Robert Sackey in time for the high-profile match.
Highlanders’ preparations for the match that Ndlovu referred to as the “El Classio” last week, have not been smooth.
First, Bosso lost their last match to fellow strugglers Yadah FC in Harare while there were rumours that Ndlovu was on the brink of leaving the club for Botswana side Gaborone United.
Ndlovu refused to entertain questions on the media reports, opting to dwell on the epic tie.
“Apart from the social media news designed to deliberately cripple my team, we trained very well. The boys are in good spirits, they are not pulled back by the loss against Yadah, they admit that you win some and lose some in football,” he told reporters.
“If you look at the statistics, it’s a big fail in the first five games. We collected only three points from five games, eight points from the next five. And we have already lost one in the next five and for us to meet our target, we have to win the next four games,” he said.
Ndlovu believes that Bosso are still in the title race.
“It’s a marathon, we are in it. At the end of the day there will be the last game of the season which will show who was the best out of all the teams,” Ndlovu said.
In recent years Highlanders have dominated this fixture having won four of the last seven meetings, while Dynamos have won once albeit through the boardroom after they were awarded an abandoned match two years ago.