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Highlander's worst start

by Staff reporter
24 Apr 2019 at 07:13hrs | Views
HIGHLANDERS will have to replicate Monomotapa's incredible turnaround produced in 2008 to win the league after losing their opening four games to appease their army of restless fans.

Defunct Monomotapa were amazingly patient with coach Norman Mapeza despite losing 1-0 to Shooting Stars, 2-1 to Njube Sundowns, 1-0 to Motor Action and 3-0 to Chapungu, and went on to register their first win by beating Lengthens 3-2 on matchday five. Following that poor start, Monomotapa went on to claim the championship.

Fast forward to 2019; Highlanders have had a terrible start, with many theories coming from their corridors bordering on divisions within the executive that led a players' strike during pre-season. Some argue that coach Madinda Ndlovu  has "no luck" as he has the players, but they are failing to click, while others blame the players for lacking match fitness.

The current bunch of Bosso players will go down as the worst performers in the opening four games and the challenge is for them to get out of their shells and turn the season in their favour.

Highlanders are winless in four games, playing to two goalless draws against Black Rhinos in Harare and Caps United in Bulawayo, and a 3-1 defeat by Harare and Monday's lucklustre 1-0 loss to Triangle United.

Since Highlanders last won the championship in 2006, their worst start to the season was in 2008 when they beat Njube Sundowns 4-0 and then drew their next three games. However, a sports scientist from a local university, who declined to be named, came to Ndlovu's defence, saying: "There's no shortcut to getting results. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and this is what Highlanders players did when they absconded pre-season.  

"Scientifically, to have athletes certified match fit after pre-season, one needs between six to eight weeks of uninterrupted training. The coach will hide behind that because when they were supposed to start pre-season, players went on strike and they lost the first week.  

"Training later resumed and just as they were about to get into gear, they went on a three-week strike and only started training two weekends before the start of the season. Right now all other teams are in game mode and Highlanders have to modify their training methods to get their players match-fit."

In all four games Highlanders have played, there are phases where the players exploded and attacked with purpose, but quickly ran out of steam. The technical team is also yet to have a starting XI.

After the Triangle defeat, Ndlovu bemoaned lack of fitness, saying "an unfit player is vulnerable to injuries" after seeing right-back Bukhosi Ncube limping off in the first half.

Ncube joins Zambian forward, Peter Nyirenda, who only played the first game against Black Rhinos as a substitute. Striker, Prince Dube, who came from the bench against Triangle missed the Independence Cup due to injury. Questions have been asked about midfielder, Divine Mhindirira, who had a superb game against Caps United but found his way to the bench for the Harare City and Triangle defeats. Midfielder, Denzel Khumalo, has been a noticeable absentee in the match day squad, with rumours that "indiscipline" has cost him a place. Highlanders play Mushowani Stars in Harare this weekend.

The league debutants gave defending champions FC Platinum a scare when they drew 2-2 in the capital. Bosso fans appear to have run out of patience and the executive will be under more pressure if the team fails to beat Mushowani, especially after their perennial rivals Dynamos reportedly fired their coach, Lloyd Chigowe, following three consecutive losses and a win.

Fans were flocking to Barbourfields Stadium following a promising performance against Caps United, but the Mushowani match will determine if they will continue to support the club financially by going to the stadium or turn their backs until the rot is sorted. Ndlovu was brought in to return the Bosso culture of playing entertaining football, but that project seems to have struck a wrong chord this season, with no clear game plan.

Yes, the players are passing the ball around and retaining lots of possession, but that's just outside their own penalty box, posing no danger to their opponents. The problem starts when moving forward. That's when lack of imagination takes over and Ndlovu seems to struggle to change tactics.

Unless something drastic happens, Highlanders could find themselves fighting relegation just like Dynamos last season. Below are Highlanders' results for the opening four games from 2006. 2006: Chapungu 1-2 Highlanders, Highlanders 3-0 Shabanie Mine, Mwana Africa 1-2 Highlanders, Highlanders 4-1 Hwange

2007:

Highlanders 1-0 Lengthens, Masvingo United 1-1 Highlanders, Highlanders 3-0 Njube Sundowns, Lancashire Steel 1-0 Highlanders

2008: Highlanders 4-0 Njube Sundowns, Lengthens 0-0 Highlanders, Highlanders 1-1 Caps United, Lancashire Steel 1-1 Highlanders

2009: Highlanders 1-0 Gunners, Bantu Rovers 0-1 Highlanders, Njube Sundowns 0-1 Highlanders, Highlanders 0-0 Shooting Stars

2010: Highlanders 2-1 Black Mambas, Dynamos 1-0 Highlanders, Highlanders 1-0 Gunners, Shabanie Mine 1-0 Highlanders

2011: Highlanders 3-0 Shabanie Mines, Monomotapa 1-0 Highlanders, Highlanders 0-0 Masvingo United, Gunnners 1-2 Highlanders

2012: Highlanders 4-0 Rangers, Highlanders 5-3 Hardbbody, Buffaloes 1-1 Highlanders, FC Platinum 1-3 Highlanders

2013: Shabanie Mine 0-2 Highlanders, Highlanders 2-0 Harare City, Triangle United 1-2 Highlanders, Highlanders 0-1 Motor Action

2014: Chapungu 0-0 Highlanders, Highlanders 4-1 Shabanie Mine, Chiredzi 0-3 Highlanders, Highlanders 1-1 Hwange

2015: ZPC Kariba 2-0 Highlanders, Tsholotsho 0-1 Highlanders, Highlanders 1-0 Hwange, Buffaloes 0-0 Highlanders

2016: Hwange 0-3 Highlanders, Highlanders 1-2 FC Platinum, Tsholotsho 1-2 Highlanders, Bulawayo City 1-1 Highlanders

2017: Highlanders 2-0 Bulawayo City, Highlanders 0-1 Shabanie Mine, Highlanders 3-2 ZPC Kariba, Tsholotsho 1-2 Highlanders

2018: Highlanders 2-1 Black Rhinos, Herentals 0-2 Highlanders, Highlanders 0-0 Triangle, Dynamos 0-1 Highlanders

2019: Black Rhinos 0-0 Highlanders, Highlanders 0-0 Caps United, Harare City 3-1 Highlanders, Highlanders 0-1 Triangle.

Source - chronicle

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