BULAWAYO – Zimbabwean football giants Highlanders and former South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns have sounded the war cry for today’s tour opener at Barbourfields Stadium.
Speaking in separate interviews yesterday, the two coaches predicted a tough encounter that is likely to be played in a competitive spirit.
“Sundowns is a big club in the region and while the game may be billed as a friendly, I think that when it comes to an international game there is nothing like a friendly,” Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu told reporters before his team’s training session at Luveve stadium yesterday morning.
“Just look at the way Sundowns have prepared and the contingent that they have come with, it shows that they are serious about this game.”
Speaking after his team’s morning training session at the match venue, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane echoed Kaindu’s views.
“There are so many benefits that can be achieved through these games, chief among them being the opportunity to play unfamiliar opposition in unfamiliar territory, which will prepare us for taking part in African competition in the future.”
Mosimane added that he would also use the series of friendly matches against Zimbabwean opposition to scout for talent.
“We are here to identify talent as well and will be on the lookout for outstanding players. We know some of the locals would like to play in South Africa and this will spur them to give their best which at the end of the day will make the games very tough.”
The Zimbabwean trio of Esrom Nyandoro, Method Mwanjali and Nyasha Mushekwi are relishing the opportunity of playing at home against their countrymen.
“I have not been playing for national team because of what has been happening and coming back to play is g really nice. I have missed playing in front of my home fans,” Mushekwi said in apparent reference to the Asiagate match-fixing scandal, which temporarily interrupted his international career with the Warriors.
Bulawayo native Esrom Nyandoro was delighted with his homecoming.
“It is always nice to come home and I am excited but at the same time we are here to work,” the veteran Zimbabwe international midfielder said.
“As much as I am happy to be home we have a mission to accomplish, which is to prepare the team for the second half of the season.”
Former Warriors skipper Method Mwanjali called upon the fans to come in their numbers to watch all the games.
“It’s a good feeling to be back home and I urge the fans turn up in large numbers and create a great atmosphere. I hope we do our best as Sundowns,” Mwanjali said.
Football fans in Bulawayo have a chance of watching some of the finest talent in the South African Premiership such as former Bafana Bafana players Teko Modise and Surprise Moriri, Mozambican winger Domingues Pelembe and Liberian forward Anthony Laffor.
Highlanders may feature some of their prodigal sons like Gilbert Banda, Thabani Moyo and Njabulo Ncube.
After Bosso, the Brazilians will then play CAPS at Rufaro Stadium in Harare on Friday in their second game of the whistle-stop tour before squaring off against Zimbabwean champions Dynamos at the same venue two days later. – Sakheleni Nxumalo