PSL preview with Anesu Chakanetsa
HIGHLANDERS has just set an early challenge.
Pictures of Barbourfields Stadium stands filled with men and women in black and white rallying behind Highlanders in a must-win game against FC Platinum on Sunday made the rounds on social media, whetting the appetites of football palates that had dried.
They won the match 2-1, courtesy of Stanley Ngala and Peter Muduhwa, while the evergreen reigning Soccer Star-of-the-Year, Walter Musona, equalised for FC Platinum.
They broke a 10-year jinx of not beating FC Platinum at Barbourfields, since 2013 as well as a nine-year curse of not beating the Kugona Kunenge Kudada boys in a league match since 2014.
This time around, Bosso will play again at the Emagumeni against Chicken Inn in a Bulawayo derby where the latter will be home on Good Friday.
In the last 10 games the teams have played, the Gamecocks have a better head-to-head over Bosso with four wins, four draws and two losses, meaning Highlanders has only managed two wins, four losses and four draws.
Last season, it was a draw (home and away) for both teams; 1-1 in May and 2-2 in September.
Though Bosso will be away, they are banking on their 11 000 supporters, a number which they hope to surpass on Friday and perhaps win to maintain pressure on all-time rivals Dynamos and CAPS United whom they are tied with on seven points on top of the log.
Their rivals, DeMbare, will hope to fill up National Sports Stadium on Monday when they play army side Cranborne Bullets, especially with beer now being sold in the stadium during PSL matches.
Dynamos brag harbouring seven million fans in a population of 16 million people.
The early log leaders had a tough match against Simba Bhora at NSS on Saturday where Ndiraya was at his antics again.
The match ended 0-0.
A source within DeMbare structures reveals that the grudge fights started as early as Friday when the two teams were allocated time to train at the match venue.
Ndiraya employed his defence and delay-type of football to deprive DeMbare of goal-scoring chances.
It appears to be a dog-eat-dog affair when the Glamour Boys play Cranborne Bullets.
Last season, which was the first for Cranborne Bullets, DeMbare won at home but lost away and it was a 1-0 score line in both legs.
“Ngachiuye Chipembere ticheke Nyanga (Let the Black Rhino come, we are ready to dehorn it),” is what CAPS United wrote on their Facebook page ahead of their match against Black Rhinos on Friday at National Sports Stadium.
It’s a fixture pitting two gaffers of two different backgrounds and eras; Lloyd Chitembwe who played in the 1990s and 2000s as a defender, and a record-breaking Stix Mtizwa who played in the 1980s as a tricky midfielder.
But it is Chitembwe’s CAPS United that have enjoyed more victories against the army side over the years.
In the past eight league games they have played, CAPS have won five games and drawn three, meaning Rhinos have not won a single match.
And Rhinos, though coached by a former goal poacher and playmaker, have not scored in the past two matches when they played Bosso and Bulawayo Chiefs while CAPS have been taking their few chances which has seen some of their fans shedding tears of joy.
Adrian Silla became the great sealer when he scored one of the greatest solo goals in the PSL in a match against ZPC Kariba to take Kepekepe to seven points, tied with Dynamos and Highlanders but are in third position through goal difference.
If the log standing stays like that, with Dynamos, CAPS and Highlanders fighting for pole position, surely fans will come back to stadia.
The 2022 champions, FC Platinum and Bulawayo Chiefs, lock horns at Mandava on Friday.
The two have already had a feel of each other when they played in a Castle Challenge Cup played at Mandava last month where league champions scored two goals in the Chibuku Cup, courtesy of Panashe Mutimbanyoka and Jarrison Selemani.
FC Platinum is a wounded lion coming from a 2-1 defeat by Bosso while Bulawayo Chiefs is coming from a 0-0 draw with Rhinos.
Last season though, the Ninjas surprised Zimbabwe with a 2-0 win over the then, and now, reigning champions Platinum in the first leg but were beaten 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
It’s not an easy game for the supposed CAF Champioms league participants, FC Platinum, who will have to work hard to contain the supposed CAF Confederation participants, Bulawayo Chiefs.
The anointed boys, Yadah, who have had a feel of very expected result in football this season — a draw, a win and a loss — lock horns at NSS on Thursday afternoon.
The battle of Manicaland, pitting Green Fuels and Manica Diamonds, takes place on Friday afternoon at Gibbo Stadium while Ngezi Platinum and Herentals match up at Baobab.
Hwange, which is coming from an emphatic 3-0 victory against Green Fuels hope to continue in good form against Sheasham on Saturday afternoon.
A day later, ZPC Kariba and Triangle will carry with them high temperatures to the capital from Kariba and Chiredzi to battle it out on Sunday afternoon.
It promises to be a great Passover.
Tomorrow: Yadah vs Simba Bhora (NSS)
Friday: Black Rhinos vs Caps United (NSS)
Ngezi Platinum vs Herentals (Baobab)
FC Platinum vs Bulawayo Chiefs (Mandava)
Green Fuel vs Manica Diamonds (Gibbo)
Chicken Inn vs Highlanders (BF)
Saturday: Hwange vs Sheasham (Luveve)
Sunday: ZPC Kariba vs Triangle (NSS)
Monday: Dynamos vs Cranborne Bullets (NSS)