BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS have a chance to salvage their season by winning the Chibuku Super Cup final against Ngezi Platinum Stars, with the Bulawayo giants playing the match in front of their multitude of fans after the organisers yesterday announced that the game will be played at Barbourfields Stadium on November 30.
This is the first time the final is being staged at this venue since the return of the competition in 2014. Highlanders have not made it to the final since the reintroduction of the Chibuku Cup, the biggest cup competition in the country at the moment.
The winner of the match will represent the country in the Caf Confederation Cup next year.
Bosso has had a nightmarish season in the league, until recently when they picked up form following the arrival of new coach Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh.
While they are mid-table in the league, Highlanders have been outstanding in the journey to the final after they upstaged old rivals Dynamos 1-0 in the first round at Rufaro Stadium before felling league champions FC Platinum 3-0 in the quarter-finals at home.
They beat ZPC Kariba in the semi-final at the same venue, and only Ngezi Platinum Stars now stands in their way to glory.
If they can beat Ngezi Platinum Stars, Highlanders would have turned what threatened to be a horrible season, into a glorious one for their fans.
But even if they lose, the fans seem to be satisfied with the Dutchman’s work, and they have huge hopes for the future.
Moreso, top striker Prince Dube’s confidence is back, and has scored in all the three stages of the tournament making him the leading scorer in the competition so far.
“We have managed to bring fans back to the stadium and play very good football. Our fans like the type of football we play and we have brought them back to the stadium after a long time. The club has not been in a tournament final for a very long time and now the club is in the final (of the Chibuku Super Cup),” de Jongh said.
But it would be folly for Highlanders to think they will stroll to the podium, as they will face a Ngezi Platinum side who have won this competition before, and have also been doing well of late.
In fact, history favours Ngezi in this clash as the Mhondoro side beat Highlanders when the two sides faced off in the Chibuku Super Cup semis in 2016. Ngezi went on to win the tournament.
The two sides are fresh from facing each other in the league after they played to a 1-1 draw in Bulawayo, with Highlanders snatching a late penalty to grab a point.
Ngezi Platinum coach Rodwell Dhlakama, whose side had the priviledge of playing the first round and the semi-final at their home ground, does not have a problem with playing the final at Highlanders’ home ground.
“What is important is that we have to respect the decision of the PSL and the sponsors. At the end of the day football must be the winner. It is not about Highlanders playing at Barbourfields although the writing is on the wall that they have an advantage playing at home. We need to get the best out of the circumstances. At the end of the day, we must look at the broader picture and football must win,” Dhlakama said.