THE coining of the nickname “Bossolona” for Highlanders Football Club, coming from their traditional “Bosso” nickname, is probably more than a fanatical c
omparison of playing standards. It has also to do with creative jingoism inspired by the Zimbabwean club’s similarity in backgrounds to the Spanish giants, Barcelona FC.
European champions Barcelona comes from Catalonia, a region of Spain which has for a long time “proclaimed” independence from the rest of Spain. There is a great deal of regional patriotism in Catalonia, and in their beloved language, Catalan.
To many Catalans, Barcelona is more than a football team; it’s a symbol of Catalonia, an institution and a way of life, hence the famous motto, El Barca es mes que un club (Barca is more than a club). In fact, some of the club’s most ardent followers reckon them to be the “national team of the Republic of Catalonia”. Barcelona’s fixture with bitter rival Real Madrid, who are from the capital Madrid, is evocative of war. It is arguably the greatest club contest in the whole world.
Zimbabwe’s Highlanders, hailing from Matabeleland, are seen by their multitude of fans as a major force. With a passionate following in the region and countrywide, songs in which regional undertones are openly belted out at Bosso matches.
And Dynamos, the Harare club becomes the chief target of Bosso’s “wrath”. Being the biggest team from the southern region of the country, and the most successful, and a competitor in support base, Dynamos have naturally become an inter-city rival for Highlanders.
Matches between the two sides are fiercely contested both on the field and on the stands, and the fixture is one of the eagerly-anticipated events on the Zimbabwean sports calendar.
Clayton Munemo, a former Dynamos player, evokes memories of the big derby between his former club and Highlanders.
“Of course the pressure was different because it was Highlanders,” he said. “The simple conclusion is that none of the teams want to lose. It hurts to lose to Highlanders just as it is to lose to Caps, who are our rivals in Harare. There is lot of passion in the stands, and it motivated us during our playing days.”
The league match between Dynamos and Highlanders on Sunday is the next episode in a lifetime series of rivalry between these giants of Zimbabwean football.
The sad thing for Dynamos and their supporters is that they face their rivals without Evans Gwekwerere, their idolised youthful striker who has become a household name even among those who did not even know he was a footballer. Gwekwerere was reported in the local press this week to be leaving for trials with South African side Moroka Swallows.
Such was the talisman Gwekwerere had become at Dynamos that after a defeat-less streak which was busted by, of all teams, Buymore a fortnight ago, rival fans were now probably bored by Highlanders supporters saying “we now want Gwekwerere”, in reference to Dynamos.
Both sides lost their last league matches. Highlanders went down for the first time in the season in a 1-0 defeat by Buymore at home, while Dynamos lost 3-2 away to Hwange.