HomeSportSoccerWill Highlanders rise from the dead?

Will Highlanders rise from the dead?

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While Dynamos are at the summit, enjoying a sweet end to the 2011 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League and brighter start this year, the same cannot be said of their former bitter rivals from the City of Kings, Highlanders.

The Harare giants, league winners last season and sure to sail to the second round of the Caf Champions League, have hogged all the limelight and given maximum mileage to regional banking group and sponsors BancABC.

Highlanders and Black Mambas are sponsored by the same company, but it is the former champions who will start the 2012 season more under spotlight than the police side.

The Bulawayo giants — if they still deserve this title — start off the campaign with a game against Blue Rangers at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday, determined to rebuild the fast-fading brand.

Dynamos, in the Champions League, have all their bills being footed by BancABC, who also pay the salaries of the players and technical staff, which Highlanders should also be benefiting from.

Yes, they are getting the salaries for the players and technical staff, but should have been the other team in the Champions League or Confederation Cup, just by virtue of being the most successful club in Zimbabwe after Dynamos.

If their last friendly against Chapungu is anything to go by — in a virtually empty stadium — then there is very little hope of the fans coming back to the stadium if there are no immediate results. In Week Five, they will host Dynamos at Barbourfields and one can bet that the champions’ fans will outnumber those of the hosts.

This is where BancABC is crying foul — the brand is not visible and the mileage, like the results, is not coming. NewsDay Sport spoke to one senior executive of the bank: “Highlanders is a huge brand and represents football in the Southern Region and we want to grow that brand. Perhaps, we need to put more money into the club and also help them to focus on junior development.”

New chairman Peter Dube has one major handicap — he did not appoint his own coach in Kelvin Kaindu, and even if he wanted to, he would have to cancel the existing two-year contract and pay out the Zambian.

Where will he get the funds?

Instead, he has to be positive in his outlook with the squad that Kaindu has assembled, which includes tried and tested players like Mthulisi Maphosa, Bheki Ncube, Innocent Kutsanzira, Masimba Mambare, Graham Ncube, Arial Sibanda and Eric Mudzingwa, among others.

While all these have Premiership experience, it remains to be seen what type of formation Kaindu will adopt come Sunday.

First impressions last the longest and fans will judge Kaindu on this opening match because, according to Bosso fans, Blue Rangers are just a small team which deserves a thrashing at home.

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