BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS are banking on their 12th man to stir them against a fired-up Ngezi Platinum Stars in a Castle Lager Premiership tie on Sunday.
With fans back to watch football matches and the gate charges reviewed downwards to US$3 for the rest of the ground, Highlanders gaffer Mandla Mpofu yesterday acknowledged the importance of a good crowd man as Bosso seek to bounce back after an early setback where they lost to Black Rhinos in the first match of the season.
A few fans had made it to Barbourfields Stadium last Tuesday for the match against Ngezi Platinum when the cheapest ticket was pegged at US$10, but the match was abandoned due to unavailability of referees.
“Our supporters give us the edge and we are happy about that. As a team, we are happy that our fans will be back after a very long time. They will be there on Sunday and they will cheer us on and that is a plus for us. Now that the gate charges have been slashed, it means we will get better numbers. The 12th man is very important for this institution, the supporters drive the team. The players are motivated that the fans are back,” Mpofu said.
The club’s acting chief executive officer Ronald Moyo sang the same song.
“The key pillar and key stakeholders at Highlanders are the fans. We are obviously happy that they are back and we saw the decision that was made by the PSL [Premier Soccer League] to revise the gate charges,” he said.
“We are happy for the fans and the club because we know that this means on Sunday, we are playing in front of a huge crowd. We have not been doing well without the fans. We hope they will boost the boys’ confidence and there is also a monetary reward that comes with it given that we are at home. We encourage the fans to come in their numbers.”
Highlanders failed to defend the Chibuku Super Cup as they were bundled out in the quarter-finals by FC Platinum, who booked a place in the final with a 1-0 win over Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
They lost their first league game 2-0 to Black Rhinos about three weeks ago, but Mpofu believes it’s early days, admitting his charges are failing to convert opportunities to goals.
“It’s a matter of time,” he said.
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