It’s the Uhuru Cup semi

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Former Motor Action midfielder, Louis Matawu, comes face to face with his former paymasters when he turns up in Highlanders’ colours this afternoon in an Independence Trophy semi-final match at Barbourfields Stadium.

The other semi-final is between Dynamos and Gunners at Rufaro, with the winners of the two ties meeting on Monday in the final at the National Sports Stadium.

Matawu joined Highlanders in the close season and will also line up with another former Bulls star, Njabulo Ncube.

The pair has not had a smooth start to the 2011 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League campaign after Highlanders won their opening encounter 3-0 against Shabanie Mine before losing 1-0 to Monomotapa in Harare.

They were also held to a 0-0 draw at home by Masvingo.

Highlanders will make changes to their starting lineup with veteran goalkeeper Lovemore Makwavarara likely to get his first game due to the absence of regular Arial Sibanda who is with the Young Warriors squad in Botswana for an All-Africa Games qualifier.

Two other signings — Misheck Mburayi and Vincent Nzombe who has played for Shabanie Mine and Caps United, could also get an opportunity to get game time ahead of the an appetising week five home clash against Dynamos.

In addition, coach Mkhuphali Masuku can also call upon the experience of captain Gilbert Banda, former Platinum Stars (South Africa) defender Bekithemba Ndlovu, Innocent Mapuranga, hard-running Eric Mudzingwa and Gift Lunga.

After losing Bheki Ncube and Charles Sibanda to newboys FC Platinum, the Mighty Bulls set about rebuilding their team and despite being knocked out of the Caf Orange Champions League, they have done well on the rebound to have a great start to the season.

And that great start will even have more meaning if they beat Highlanders this afternoon, meaning they will have completed a double — albeit in different competitions over the two biggest teams in the land.

Kuda Musharu, Eddie Chitato and Ocean Mushure have added bite to the Bulls’ attack while complementing the efforts of Simba Mambare, Allan Gahadzikwa, veterans Themba Ndlovu and Marlon Jani.

Former Lengthens captain, Godfrey Moyo and Gift Phiri, are also part of the team.

Having won the competition in 2005, the Mighty Bulls had to wait half a decade to claim their second-and most prized medal-when they lifted the 2010 Premier Soccer League title.

Now, after a good start to the season — which has seen them record a draw and two wins — one notably against former champions Dynamos last Sunday, they enter the former hard hat zone of Barbourfields with even more determination to succeed.

In their last cup meeting in 2005 under Rahman Gumbo, the Mighty Bulls arrived immaculately dressed in all black and matching red ties and jackets, and walked away with the accolade after a 2-0 triumph, defeating the late Dick Chama’s team which at that time had the talented Ralph Matema as the top striker.

The Mighty Bulls were unable to defend the cup the following season after Zifa turned the competition into an invitational tourney.

Fixtures

Today:
Highlanders v Motor Action (Barbourfields)
Dynamos v Gunners (Rufaro)
List of Independence Trophy winners:
Number of wins (from 1983 and since 1986) (lost finals in brackets):
6 (4) Dynamos
5 (10) Highlanders
4 (3) Caps United
2 Black Rhinos
2 Masvingo United
1 (3) Chapungu United
1 (2) Zimbabwe Saints
1 AmaZulu
1 Motor Action
1 Njube Sundowns
1 Shooting Stars
(1) Black Aces
(1) Eiffel Flats
(1) Hwange