BY FORTUNE MBELE/TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
JOEL “Josta” Ngodzo could be leaving Highlanders and returning to Caps United before the transfer window closes after spending just over a year with the Bulawayo giants, according to sources.
The sources said coach Baltemar Britto has not been impressed by the 2019 Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year.
Although the Highlanders media office has refuted reports that the club was releasing Ngodzo, sources have said the attacking midfielder is on his way out and could be rejoining Caps United.
Highlanders spokesperson Nozibelo Maphosa said: “Ngodzo is still a Highlanders player.”
The midfielder is said to have missed last week’s training sessions ahead of the game against Manica Diamonds.
But Brito yesterday said Ngodzo was training and could be available for the WhaWha match tomorrow at Ascot Stadium.
“He (Ngodzo) has been training and he is an option (for tomorrow). We are happy with the squad. We will not be releasing or loaning any players out,” the Portuguese mentor said.
If Ngodzo were to be laid off, he would become the second player to be released after Keith Mavhunga was offloaded last week.
Ngodzo joined Caps United from Highlanders in 2015, having also dumped Bosso to join FC Platinum before rejoining the Bulawayo giants.
He returned to Highlanders last year, but has failed to make a mark.
Highlanders promoted 16-year-old attacking midfielder Prince Ndlovu last week and he played his first game on Sunday during the team’s 3-0 win over Manica Diamonds at Barbourfields Stadium after Brito gave him the last 12 minutes of the game.
Midfielder Adrian Silla has extended his stay at Highlanders by three years.
Meanwhile, McClive Phiri, released by his South African side Uthongathi and briefly trained with Highlanders, is said to be on the radar of Ngezi Platinum Stars, while Winston Mhango, axed by Highlanders in March, is reportedly on his way to ZPC Kariba.
Meanwhile, captain Phineas Bhamusi has rallied his teammates to build on their recent performance in the last two matches as they bid to break a two-year jinx against Ngezi Platinum when they face off at the Baobab Stadium on Saturday.
The Green Machine had endured a frustrating a seven-match losing spell until they edged Harare City 2-1 two weeks ago, before sharing the spoils with army side Black Rhinos in a hard-fought encounter at the National Sports Stadium last weekend, which ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
Bhamusi said the performance in the last two games had given them hope as they seek to reassert themselves once again.
“The last two games are a product of hard work at training and this week we have been working even harder at training ahead of the match against Ngezi Platinum. We know it will not be an easy game,” Bhamusi said
“They (Ngezi Platinum) have always been difficult and they will come hard at us, so we have to keep focused. Almost everyone has been giving their all at training and hopefully we will get a good result. There is a great atmosphere in the dressing room and we are looking forward to the match.”
Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe will for the first time meet at this level his counterpart Benjani Mwaruwari on the opposite dugout. The two last played together at the 2006 African Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.
Mwaruwari, a former Warriors captain, has been working on his coaching badges after retirement and has since been given the mandate to lead Ngezi Platinum following the departure of Rodwell Dhlakama.
While he had a good start at the Mhondoro-based side, he has not been consistent recently, winning just once against Bulawayo City in the last five matches, drawing twice and losing twice, including the weekend defeat to Herentals.
Mwaruwari’s men are in ninth place with 29 points after 20 rounds of matches and will be looking to pick themselves up again when they host the Green Machine.
Ngezi will be encouraged by the fact that they have not lost to Caps United in the league in the past two years.
They were last beaten by Caps United in 2017 when they were walloped 3-0, with the other encounter that year ending in a 0-0 stalemate.
Since then, Ngezi have dominated the encounters, edging the Harare football giants 2-1 in May 2018 before completing a double with an identical score line four months later.
In 2019, Ngezi Platinum prevailed 2-1 and overcame them again 3-2. This season, the encounter in Harare ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
The platinum miners were then still under the guidance of Dhlakama and it is in this context that the latest instalment is expected to be feisty.
Chitembwe’s men though are determined to build on their impressive performance in the past two matches in which they have collected four points out of a possible six.
New signing Emmanuel Mandiranga is expected to play a key role in the Harare giants’ revival mission.
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