BY FORTUNE MBELE
THE Castle Lager Premier Soccer League returns with the spotlight falling on new Highlanders coach Baltemar Brito, who will preside on his first match since joining as Bosso take on Black Rhinos on Sunday.
Bosso ended the first half of the season with 20 points from 16 games, with their abandoned match against Dynamos yet to be decided.
They lost out on another ill-fated match against FC Platinum following disciplinary proceedings where the Zvishavane-based side was awarded the three points.
Highlanders lost the reverse fixture 2-0 at the National Sports Stadium when the 2021/22 season started last November.
The Bulawayo giants, 15 points behind log leaders Chicken Inn, only won four of their 16 matches in the first half with eight draws and four defeats.
The Portuguese national Brito, with a colourful curriculum vitae, where he won several major trophies in Europe as assistant to legendary Jose Mourinho at various clubs, arrived in Bulawayo early in the month with compatriot Antonio Torres and watched Highlanders’ last game against Harare City at Barbourfields Stadium.
Torres is Bosso’s first assistant coach while Joel Luphahla reverts to second assistant coach position. The duo was impressed as Highlanders beat Harare City 1-0.
The coaches are reportedly inclined to blending youth with experience and as the transfer window opens next Friday, sources have said they could be bringing in 16-year-old attacking midfielder Prince Ndlovu from their developmental side Bosso 90 while also eyeing the return of Brian Banda from FC Platinum and defender McClive Phiri, whose career in South Africa took a nose-dive since he arrived in 2020.
Ndlovu could be part of the Highlanders’ Under-17s as they take part in the Marvelous Nakamba invitational Under-17 tournament at White City Stadium.
Three unidentified players from Luphahla’s former club Golden Eagles reportedly played for Highlanders in a training match recently, but their status at the Bulawayo giants could not be immediately established.
As the second half of the season kicks off, the main focus is at the top of the log standings where Chicken Inn continue to rule the roost with 35 points from 17 games and under stiff challenge from FC Platinum now on the second spot with 34 points after they got three points from their abandoned home match against Highlanders.
Chicken Inn, who welcome back striker Clive Augusto, travel to Mutare where they clash with Cranborne Bullets at Sakubva Stadium on Saturday. They beat the army side 1-0 at Luveve in their opening match of the season.