Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE last Bulawayo Premiership derby of the first half of the season is on at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow when struggling Highlanders play host to rejuvenated Bulawayo Chiefs.
Highlanders, who lost the first derby of the season to anchors Bulawayo City 1-0 and drew 1-1 against Chicken Inn last weekend, head into tomorrow’s encounter having gone for four games without victory. Bosso last collected maximum points in March when they beat Yadah 3-0.
On the other hand, Chiefs are bubbling with confidence as they target the Bulawayo giants’ scalp, on a four-match unbeaten run including the last two consecutive identical 1-0 score line wins against Whawha and Bulawayo City.
Being a derby, the outcome is unpredictable, but odds are heavily stacked against Highlanders who have been having lukewarm displays that have seen them sliding to position 12 with 15 points from 13 games.
Chiefs are on position 10, two points above Highlanders, making the derby all to play for as a victory for the latter will see them leapfrog their opponents.
Nilton Terroso, Chiefs’ gaffer isn’t reading much into Highlanders’ poor run, expressing his respect for the ailing Bulawayo giants while demanding his players to guard against complacency.
The Portuguese expatriate is looking forward to an exciting game.
“I’ve seen them play and to be honest, I’ll say it’s going to be an exciting game. I’ve got a lot of respect for Highlanders, they are a huge club in the city, as well in the country and they have passionate fans. It’s going to be a difficult game and no question that it’s a massive challenge for us.
“It’s something we’re looking forward to, I believe the players are excited as I am. We’ll do everything we can to influence the game to our end. Its’ important not to fall into that mistake of thinking that we’re in good space because we are winning. I feel we can improve in a lot of areas and expect the team to perform better and continue being on the winning path. We don’t want to go into the game thinking we’re good because we’re winning, as we’ll get a rude awakening,” said Terroso.
In derbies that Terroso has presided over, Chiefs lost 2-0 to Chicken Inn and won 1-0 against City.
The Chiefs gaffer said six of his players, including exciting attacking midfielder Mthokozisi Msebe, former national team striker Perfect Chikwende, defenders Kelvin Moyo and ben Nyahunzwi, either missed training sessions or failed to complete them due to knocks.
He said they will assess the players before going into camp today.
Highlanders have ruled out midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku who has been playing on painkillers for the derby, giving their anchorman time to recover from a nagging ankle knock.
Adrian Silla and Devine Mhindirira will drive Bosso’s midfield, with Peter Muduhwa, Andrew Tandi, Andrew Mbeba and Mbongeni Ndlovu marshalling defence. Lynoth Chikuhwa and Stanley Ngala will lead Highlanders’ attack.
Highlanders coach Mandla Mpofu said his charges are fired up to atone for their bad spell.
“The guys have been working hard even though we’ve had others like Silla and Mbongeni (Ndlovu) recovering from running stomachs, Washington Navaya had a slight cough but is back. We’ve decided to rest Nqo (Masuku) who has played for three games on painkillers. We’ve said to ourselves, let’s give him time to heal properly and see how he recovers next week.
“Otherwise, we are good to go. We really want to get maximum points. It won’t be easy but we’ll fight,” said Mpofu.
Highlanders and Chiefs are facing off for the fifth time in the Premiership, with both teams winning twice and losing twice.
Chiefs won the last clash 1-0 to survive relegation in 2019, with Bosso having won the first leg 3-1.
In 2018, Chiefs won the first leg 1-0, the year they earned themselves the “Giant Killers” tag before Bosso won the reverse fixture 3-2.
Meanwhile, Chicken Inn welcomes Herentals at Luveve stadium this afternoon, while Bulawayo City make a trip to Harare to face Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
PSL Matchday 13 fixtures
Today: Chicken Inn v Herentals (Luveve),
Harare City v Manica Diamonds (National Sports Stadium),
ZPC Kariba v Whawha (Nyamhunga),
FC Platinum v Caps United (Mandava),
Black Rhinos v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Sakubva)
Tomorrow: Bulawayo Chiefs v Highlanders (Barbourfields),
Dynamos v Bulawayo City (National Sports Stadium),
Tenax CSFC v Triangle United (Sakubva)
Article Source: The Chronicle