A LOT was expected from former Young Warriors captain Bukhosi "Zaku" Sibanda when he joined Highlanders following an unsuccessful stint at South Africa's First National Division side Ubuntu Cape Town FC.
Many still had very fond memories of the 22-year-old striker's memorable first half of the season with Bantu Rovers in 2017, when he netted an impressive 10 goals in the first 14 games of the season.
When he joined Highlanders together with Prince Dube, who was also returning from South Africa at SuperSport United, expectations were sky-high that the two were going to lead Highlanders' youthful attack in style.
With only 10 games to the end of the season, it has been a season to forget for Sibanda as he has dismally failed to make a positive impact at Highlanders since he joined the club.
In an exclusive interview with The Sports Hub, Sibanda opened up on his struggles at Bosso, which he attributed to a freak hand injury at the gym just before Highlanders started their pre-season.
The ex-Bantu forward said his efforts to be ready for the new season were also affected by the chaotic pre-season at the club, which saw Highlanders players going on industrial action before the start of the 2019 campaign.
"I had a slow start to the season because of the injury and even when I started playing the whole team was not doing well. Remember in pre-season there was a strike at the club, which affected the team," Sibanda said.
The player, however, acknowledged that he needs to work harder to reproduce the form that once saw him being tipped as a future star in Zimbabwean football.
"I admit that the pre-season strike must not be an excuse. I have to work hard as a player and a professional. I wish to play in every match like everyone else and I can't complain. I have to work extra hard," he said.
Sibanda only has three months left on his contract after he signed on a season loan deal from Bantu Academy, who hoped he would use his stint at Bosso as a stepping stone to Europe with the Bulawayo giants having an option to extend his stay if the Europe deal falls through.
He admits it has not been easy to break into the starting line-up at Highlanders, where he has become a perennial benchwarmer with the likes of in-form Dube, Divine Mhindirira and Brian Banda being preferred ahead of him.
"I can't blame anyone. I am a professional. I have to work hard. We have a strong squad. I am going through a bad patch and it happens and anyone who can do the job must do the job," Sibanda said.
He has only scored one goal throughout the season, which came when Highlanders beat Dynamos 2-0 in the Independence Trophy final at the National Sports Stadium in April after being afforded a rare start by the then coach Madinda Ndlovu.
Sibanda hopes to emulate his teammate Dube, who initially struggled with his game at the start of the season only to rediscover his scoring form for the Bulawayo giants in the last three wins against Bulawayo Chiefs and Chicken Inn in the league and Dynamos in the Chibuku Super Cup.