Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS’ coach thinks his side can bounce back from the shock 0-1 loss to new boys Shabanie Mine if his players avoid “stupid mistakes” in their next encounter.
The Dutchman’s side dropped precious points against a well-oiled Shabanie Mine outfit, which was determined to go back to Zvishavane with maximum points.
Nelson Maziwisa scored the solitary goal for the visitors.
Having spent the day reflecting on the defeat, Akbay said lack of cohesion and “a stupid” red card for skipper Erick Mudzingwa cost them points.
“Our defending in the box was bad. Actually we were too soft and too nice to our opponents and that is why they even hit the cross bar. Going forward we lacked the final touch, having created good chances. We missed about three to four chances which we should have scored and worse still that stupid red card forced us to change our plans,” Akbay said.
Maziwisa’s goal came eight minutes after Mudzingwa had been sent off by Gweru-based referee Thomas Masaa for dissent.
Mudzingwa was first yellow-carded for protesting a decision against impressive young Highlanders’ midfielder Brian Banda, who seemed to have been fouled by Shabanie’s Trevor Mavhunga.
An angry Mudzingwa walked away grumbling at Masaa who summoned him back and showed him a second yellow.
Mudzingwa was sent off when Bosso were in control of the game and they struggled to adjust to being a man down.
Shabanie used their numerical advantage to force Highlanders on the back foot.
Masaa’s red card to Shabanie’s Lloyd Manyande five minutes before fulltime did not help Highlanders.
Despite his team’s poor performance on Sunday, Akbay is optimistic they will bounce back.
“Losing is part of football. We need to have more fighting spirit. Every game we try to give our best and in the next match we’re going for it and must not make stupid mistakes,” Akbay said. He also expressed delight at the availability of the Congolese duo of winger Yves Ebabali and striker Tambwe Kalunga, who received their work permits on Friday.
“I have an opportunity to play another dimension of football now that these guys have been cleared to play. The other one is a winger, meaning we can have Prince (Dube) back in the centre with the new guy sending in crosses. We’ll see what style to use, but I’m happy that they’re available and hope they are going to do a good job,” said Akbay.
Manuel Esono Obiang Buale of Equatorial Guinea remains on the sidelines as Highlanders are waiting for his international clearance to start processing his work permit.