Bruised Highlanders take on troubled old enemies Zimbabwe Saints in the City of Kings’ Castle Lager Premier Soccer League derby expected to produce fireworks at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The City of Kings and Queens’ oldest clubs’ rivalry had been dormant for the past five years since Chauya Chikwata was sent packing to Division One.
However, former Zimbabwe Saints defender of the ’70s and life member Gibson Homela said the zest with the current crop of players is no longer there.
“That pride is gone. The rivalry is lacking. We used to enjoy that rivalry during our days. It would be the talk of the day for the rest of the week and a week before we played against each other, it would be the game in everyone’s mind,” Homela said.
The former Zifa technical director, who has coached Chikwata before, said a match between Highlanders and Zimbabwe Saints would be a game of pride.
“You would be playing for pride. Just that success over each other was an achievement. During our time, we looked forward to playing each other but it is no longer there with the players these days,” he said.
Former Highlanders chairman and linkman of the ’80s, Ernest “Mapepa” Sibanda, said during his playing days Barbourfields filled to capacity and no player would want to miss that match.
“During those days, both teams used to train at BF and you could feel it even in camp that it was going to be game and a half. You could feel who was who but after the game everything was over,” Mapepa said.
The Bulawayo football giants have been on a lull in their last two outings falling to champions Motor Action 2-0 in front of their home crowd two weeks ago.
Bosso fell with the same score-line to new boys FC Platinum in a midweek clash at Mandava Stadium.
Highlanders young coach Mkhuphali “Mr Cooper” Masuku could not stand the heat from veteran new FC Platinum mentor and Bosso son, Rahman Gumbo. Masuku played under Gumbo at Highlanders.
Mr Cooper faces yet another veteran and Highlanders son Willard “Mashinkila” Khumalo when Bosso lock horns with Chikwata on Sunday.
Highlanders captain Gilbert Banda is a survivor of the Bosso squad that played Chikwata in 2006 and is in tomorrow’s crunch tie.
Veteran left-back Gift Lunga, who has been on suspension, makes a return with right-back Lawson Nkomo, who was also on suspension.
Dribbling wizard Rahman Kutsanzira could also give Chikwata defenders Chipo Tsodzo and Danisa Phiri a hard time.
Bosso’s midfield has former Bantu Rovers’ Arnold “Majaivana” Tshuma, Eric Mudzingwa and Louis Matawu.
The three face a stiff challenge from Zimbabwe Saints’ impressive Ntokozo Tshuma who has been instrumental in almost every meaningful Chikwata attack.
Khumalo will have no mercy for a club he was part of as player and coach with attack from Beaven Chikaka, Vorster Chitema and Castro Ndebele.
Chikwata is without Dynamos trio of Leo Kurauzvione, Philip Sithole and Tafadzwa Maingire who missed training during the week.
Former Highlanders striker Abraham Mbaiwa, now performing wonders in the Chikwata right-back position, also has a bone to chew with his former paymasters.
Chikwata are yet to lose a match in Bulawayo in the 2011 season and surprised Harare giants Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium with a 1-0 victory.
They have not won their last two games either, losing to FC Platinum 1-0 in Zvishavane and sharing the spoils with Shabanie Mine in a 0-0 draw at Luveve Stadium on Thursday.