HIGHLANDERS yesterday released their final 29-member squad for 2017 with a contingent of nine strikers ahead of their first Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against neighbours Bulawayo City at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.BY FORTUNE MBELE
The latest addition to the squad is former Motor Action, Kiglon and Caps United winger Yves Ebabali, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ebabali joins fellow Congolese national Tambwe Kalunga and Manuel Obiang Esono Buale from Equatorial Guinea at the Bulawayo giants, who have been on overdrive in the player market where they also acquired former Dynamos striker Roderick Mutuma.
The four strikers join Prince Dube, veteran Ralph Matema, Gabriel Nyoni and Nhlanhla Ndlovu.
The three foreigners are yet to get work permits and may miss the opening round of fixtures.
Coach Erol Akbay yesterday said his squad was ready for the season and the strikers would bring balance to the squad, which he said was lacking last year.
“We had to bring balance to the squad, that is why we got those strikers,” he said. “We are more balanced this year compared to last year where we had a problem when one of our strikers got injured as we were forced to move a midfielder upfront. I think we are ready to roll. We have started the season stronger than last year, beating FC Platinum 3-0 and playing a goalless draw against Caps United in the ZNA Charities Shield. We played those games against big clubs and if it were league games that would translates to four points in two matches,” Akbay added.
Besides the four strikers brought on board, Highlanders also snatched midfielder Denzel Khumalo from Bantu Rovers in a swap deal with striker McCarthy Dube. They have also promoted goalkeeper Nedrick Madeya and Charlton Sialomonga from the junior ranks. Highlanders defenders Bukhosi Ncube and Nkosana Ndlovu as well as midfielder Khumalo fill up the developmental quota.
Ncube played at right-back against FC Platinum and Caps United and in an international friendly match against Zambia’s Power Dynamos.
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda, Prosper Matutu, Nedrick Madeya
Defenders: Peter Muduhwa, Tendai Ndlovu, Benson Phiri, Honest Moyo, Charlon Siamalonga
Midfielders: Rahman Kutsanzira, Tendai Ngulube, Simon Munawa, Erick Mudzingwa, Brian Banda, King Nadolo, Adrian Silla, Allen Gahadzikwa, Godfrey Makaruse
Strikers: Roderick Mutuma, Ralph Matema, Gabriel Nyoni, Prince Dube, Nhlanhla Ndlovu, Manuel Obiang Esono Buale, Tambwe Kalunga, Ray Lunga, Yves Ebabali
Developmental Quota: Nkosana Ndlovu, Bukhosi Ncube, Denzel Khumalo