THE battle for supremacy between Bulawayo’s biggest Castle Lager Premiership football clubs Highlanders and Chicken Inn explodes this afternoon at Barbourfields Stadium when the two sides meet in the third City of Kings league derby that promises fireworks.
Report by Fortune Mbele
Since Chicken Inn came into the Premiership in 2011, they have met Bosso on four occassions, with the latter having the edge over the GameCocks once and the three other matches ending in deadlock.
Under Philani “Beefy” Ncube at Luveve Stadium, Chicken Inn lost 1-2 to Highlanders in an ill-tempered first round match in May 2011 — Thomas Chimenya scoring first for the Chicken before the equaliser came from skipper Innocent Mapuranga and Erick Mudzingwa getting the winner.
It was in August of that year that the draws began with a 1-1 stalemate at B/F with goals coming from Graham Ncube and Danny “Deco” Phiri from either teams.
Both league matches at B/F last year did not produce any goals while the two sides settled for a 1-1 draw in a Mayor’s Cheer Fund charity match at Emagumeni, when Chicken Inn were under the guidance of Highlanders son, the late Adam “Adamski” Ndlovu.
Bosso, with 29 points, are looking forward to stretching their lead and tear away from chasing champions Dynamos and Harare City, who are trailing by four points.
Chicken Inn are on the fourth spot with 23 points and could close the gap to three points on the log leaders if they collect maximum points today.
Bosso coach Kelvin Kaindu is confident of victory in today’s clash, but says he has respect for Chicken Inn, who were in top form going into the two-week break for the Warriors’ World Cup assignments.
“We respect Chicken Inn. We never beat them last year and they are currently enjoying their game. We will be picking players on merit from training,” Kaindu said.
Highlanders beat Black Rhinos 1-0 in an army charity match last Sunday at B/F and Kaindu was impressed with the way the team that included some of his fringe players fared against the soldiers.
Former Gwanda Ramblers’ players Douglas Sibanda, Mgcini Sibanda, Ozias Zibande, Bruce Tshuma, Knox Mutizwa, Bobby Nkomo and Lucky Tshuma played in that game, with Zibande scoring the winner.
Mthulisi Maphosa, Mapuranga, Graham and goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya sat on the bench in apparent anticipation of the tough encounter against Chicken Inn while Milton Ncube, Beaven Chikaka and Njabulo “Tshiki” Ncube were not part of the team with Masimba Mambare on national duty.
Chicken Inn, who have roped in former Highlanders coach Mkhuphali “Mr Cooper” Masuku as head coach and Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu as assistant, believe it is a game that belongs to the players.
Mpofu said he was expecting a tough encounter playing Bosso, but Chicken Inn had prepared well for the game.
“Highlanders are a big club and to get those three points we definitely have to double our efforts. We are very much prepared for the game. Save for suspended Thabani (Goredema) and Moses Jacskon, every other player is available for selection.”
Skipper Felix Chindungwe, who touched down from the Warriors’ assignment in Guinea yesterday, could be available, but in his absence, his deputy Guide Goddard could hold fort in central defence with either former Bosso defender Zephania Ngodzo or Tonisani Sibelo.
All eyes will be on current top goal-scorer Tendai Ndoro, who could cause havoc for the Highlanders centre-back pairing of Mapuranga and in-form Dumisani “Fazo” Ndlovu.
Bosso are away to Caps United on Saturday, while Chicken Inn travel to Maglas for a date with Shabanie Mine to mark the end of the first-half of the season.