Highlanders face a big test in Harare this Saturday as they face Caps United in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at the National Sports Stadium.
Both teams have been inconsistent of late, but the Bulawayo giants still remain in the race for the league title, sitting in fourth place behind Dynamos and joint leaders FC Platinum and Motor Action.
Mkhuphali Masuku’s outfit have garnered 35 points from 21 games, one less than Dynamos and six less than the leading duo, who are both on 41 points after they played out a 0-0 draw at Mandava last Sunday.
In their two meetings so far this season, Highlanders have emerged triumphant thanks to goals from skipper Gilbert Banda.
In the league at Barbourfields, Highlanders emerged 1-0 winners when Banda struck in the last minute.
The dreadlocked skipper struck again in the BancABC quarter-final at Baghdad Stadium in Kwekwe where Bosso won the match 1-0.
From the Highlanders front, there have not been any upheavals on the bench with Masuku having been in charge since the middle of 2010.
At Caps United, they have a third coach in place in Lloyd Chitembwe, who will be taking charge of his third game. He took over from Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe, who had replaced Moses Chunga.
Results in the last two games for Chitembwe have been far from convincing, beating Kiglon 2-0 before last Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Hwange at the Colliery.
To win the hearts of the Green Machine fans, he just has to beat Highlanders this Saturday, a team which did not invest heavily in the transfer market preferring to search for talent in Division One.
The only exit was striker Njabulo Ncube, but the Bulawayo giants have not had problems with a replacement as Graham Ncube has just been on top of his game.
Bosso acquired striker Nkosilathi Mhlanga (23) and midfielder Warren Dube (20) on a permanent basis from Buscod Southern Region Division One team New West City.
Highlanders secretary Andrew Tapela told the club’s official website that the players were now part of the Bosso family after putting their signatures to three-year contracts each.
“We have not taken these players on loan as we have tended to do in the past, but have instead signed them permanently as we seek to consolidate and build. We therefore know we are not going to lose them anytime soon.”
Tapela added: “We do not want to be in a situation where a club releases players to us on loan only to recall them once they have gained exposure and fitness and at a time they are most needed in the team, this tends to be very disruptive” he said.
Tapela said they had several players on loan from Bantu Rovers and losing them at the end of the season would definitely be painful as they were making meaningful contributions to the team.
“As our financial position improves, we are moving to a situation where we want to have more players on our books on a more stable basis. While at times the need to get players on loan is unavoidable, having them on a long-term basis is more advantageous,” he added.
When he left, Mhlanga was the leading goal scorer at New West City having netted six goals from nine games while Dube was causing waves in the midfield with his exciting and skilful play.
Tapela said they were excited to have the boys in the team, but they would obviously have to slug it out for the first team jerseys.
“Division One football is more robust and competitive though less technical than the Premier League and so as far as match fitness is concerned, I am sure the two youngsters are more than ready to fight for a first team jersey. You should not be too surprised if they do manage to unseat some of the current first team players quite soon. But they will have to prove themselves to the coach first,” he said.
For Caps, Tapiwa Khumbuyani and Charles Chiutsa have arrived at the club that already has renowned stars in Evans Gwekwerere, Nyasha Mukumbi, Edmore Sibanda, Stephen Alimenda and Washington Pakamisa.
The former champions are in 11th place with 25 points from 21 matches and desperately need a win, to move into the top half in the 16-team Premiership.