Highlanders will kick-off their league campaign with what appears to be an easy home game against a rebranded Blue Rangers side, but they will surely be put under the severest of tests when they engage last season runners up FC Platinum a week later.
The highly-anticipated league kicks off in two weeks’ time and the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) yesterday released the full fixtures of the season.
The Bulawayo giants, who huffed and puffed all season to finish in an unfamiliar seventh place on the log, will look for better fortunes this year.
They will start their season campaign with a home game against Blue Rangers, formerly Blue Ribbon.
The Harare-based side fell 1-0 in the corresponding fixture and are not expected to give Highlanders any headaches.
However, Highlanders’ progress under new Zambian coach Kelvin Kaindu will be tested in the second week of the season when they visit Mandava Stadium for a date with FC Platinum.
Focus of this match will obviously be on Gilbert Banda, the former Bosso captain who will be facing his old club for the first time. Banda, alongside Louis Matawu, joined the ambitious Zvishavane side during the transfer window and their presence will surely stoke the flames in that match.
Bulawayo fans will not have to wait long for the first big clash against nemesis Dynamos, as Bosso host the Harare giants at Barbourfields on April 28.
However, they will wait until the end of May for the first Bulawayo derby of their campaign as Highlanders host city rivals Chicken Inn.
FC Platinum, who last season lost the championship race to Dynamos, open their new
campaign at Morris Depot against police side Black Mambas.
The well-sponsored and probably best-run club in the country left an incredible mark in their debut season in the top flight last year, losing the race on goal difference.
In fact, they led the title race for the better part of the season, but with only two games to go, they lost a match to Dynamos in what proved to be the decider as the Harare giants got the upper hand.
Unlike last season when growing antagonists met at the end of the season in a match that proved to be the decider, this time they will meet midway through the season.
FC Platinum host Dynamos in Week 15 while Dynamos will host Platinum a week later.
The Zvishavane-based side has already declared their readiness for the match, vowing to do a step better than last season.
As has been their norm, they have been busy on the transfer market and their strength in depth is impressive.
Defending champions Dynamos will start their title defence against promoted Hardbody before a date with another new side Buffaloes.
Former Champions Motor Action will also kick off their campaign against unfamiliar opponents when they host debutants Harare City.
The Mighty Bulls have endured a frustrating start to the season in which they were booted out in the preliminary stage of the Caf Confederation Cup before losing to Dynamos in the NetOne Charity Shield.
Faded giants Caps United, who finished a disappointing sixth last season, face a stern test away to Shabanie Mine at Maglas.
Gunners travel to Chicken Inn for their opening match while Hwange host league newboys Quelaton.