FORMER Highlanders midfielder Mthulisi Maphosa has signed for newly-promoted Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Bulawayo City and is likely to play against his former club tomorrow, as the two sides take part in a four-team pre-season football tournament at Barbourfields Stadium.
The four-team tournament, dubbed the Bulawayo Football Festival, will be an opportunity for the participating teams, Highlanders, Bulawayo City, Tsholotsho and How Mine to prepare for the start of the 2016 PSL season.
Maphosa did not renew his contract with Highlanders when it expired on December 31 and Bulawayo City chairman, Jerry Sibanda revealed at the festival’s Press conference that the veteran midfielder was now on their books.
“We, as Bulawayo City, will be using the festival to measure how the coaches have prepared for the new season. We have so far played two friendly matches, lost 0-2 to Harare City and clobbered Bantu Rovers 4-0. We have signed Mthulisi Maphosa, who is one of the players that will take part in Sunday’s tournament,” he said.
Sibanda said they had also signed former Division One side Technosphere striker, Sipho Ndlovu, while former How Mine central defender Gilbert Banda and Hwange midfielder Nkosana Siwela did not impress coach Philani “Beefy” Ncube.
Bulawayo City, How Mine and Tsholotsho share the stage with Highlanders, who this year celebrate their 90th anniversary, and the three clubs have indicated they are proud to be associated with the Bulawayo giants in their celebrations, which will be launched next Sunday at BF.
Highlanders have been seeded in the tournament and a draw will be held tomorrow morning, with the first two teams to picked playing each other in the first game, which starts at 10am.
The third team takes on Highlanders in the second game.
“After the two matches, there will be a third-place play-off and the final, which will be played at 3pm,” Highlanders secretary Emmett Ndlovu said.
“The guys are taking this tournament seriously because that is where they will be measuring themselves for the PSL season. Our new coach Erol Akbay will be part of the technical team on Sunday.”
Representing Tsholotsho at the Press conference, chairman Mlamuli Phiri said they had retained most of their players from last season, who include William Stima, Butholezwe Ncube, goalkeeper Nickiel Marichi, Maclive Phiri and Mncedisi Gumede.
How Mine, who were not represented, are likely to feature Pasca Manhanga, Dumisani Ndlovu with the likes of Kuda Musharu, Charles Sibanda, Tapiwa Khumbuyani and goalkeepers Donovan Bernard and Munyaradzi Diya.
Coach Kelvin Kaindu, cleared to take charge of the gold miners and assistant Bekithemba “Super” Ndlovu, will be taking charge of the team.
The gate charges for the tournament have been set at $2 for rest of the ground, $3 for wings and $5 for the VIP and proceeds from the gate takings will be shared among the participating teams.
Pre-season Football fixtures
Tomorrow: Dynamos v ZPC Kariba FC (Rufaro, 1200), Dynamos v Whawha FC (Rufaro, 1500)
Four Team Tournament – Highlanders FC, Tsholotsho FC, Bulawayo City FC and How Mine FC (Barbourfields, from 1000hrs)