Ricky Zililo and Lovemore Zigara, Sports Reporters
CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League pacesetters Highlanders have a gruelling encounter against winless Chapungu at Gweru’s Ascot Stadium this afternoon.
Chapungu anchor the table with just two points from six games and pressure is mounting on the airmen’s technical team and players to collect their first set of points.
Coming from a 4-0 away loss to Caps United, Chapungu will be hoping to spring a shocker and hand leaders, Bosso their second defeat of the season.
To do so, Chapungu have to be in their best form against a Highlanders side that has ruled out complacency going into today’s game.
Erol Akbay is aware of the danger posed by Chapungu to his team’s championship hopes and says Highlanders need to be “more aggressive” if they are to come out of Ascot with maximum points.
“Chapungu are a dangerous side especially now that last week they lost 4-0 to Caps United. They will certainly want to avoid losing especially before their home fans so we have to be more aggressive to get a win in Gweru. It is going to be a difficult game for us and we have to be mentally strong but we are ready for Chapungu,” said Akbay.
Highlanders will be without suspended left back Honest Moyo for the Chapungu encounter, meaning that Akbay will have to shift things around his defence.
How Akbay structures his defence line will be key this afternoon as Bukhosi Ncube who played in that position last season is out with a knee injury.
Akbay is likely to move Tendai Ngulube from his defensive midfield role to the left side of defence with Erick Mudzingwa coming in to anchor in the midfield.
Goalkeeper, Ariel Sibanda, defenders Peter Muduhwa and Tendai Ndlovu, evergreen midfielder Rahman Kutsanzira, playmaker Allan Gahadzikwa and striking pair of Prince Dube and Rodrick Mutuma will lead Bosso’s search for goals.
Chapungu gaffer Tendai Chikuni believes his side can turn the tide even though the odds are heavily staked against the airmen.
“We don’t want to approach the game with a negative mind and as such we have been psyching the guys all week in order to restore their confidence after the results of the past week. We are playing at home and we have nothing to defend and we will go all out for a win,” said Chikuni.
“We know Highlanders are on top of the table and are playing well but we will play our normal game. I know that history is against us but at times history is there to be broken,” added the Chapungu gaffer.
Chapungu will be hoping that their attack which has so far netted just three goals will come to the party against a Highlanders rearguard which has been mean in terms of leaking goals.
The airmen will be hoping that Allan Tavarwisa, veteran forward Phillip Marufu and Brighton Mugoni provide the much needed goals.
Meanwhile, Bantu Rovers play host to Yadah FC at Luveve Stadium this afternoon hoping for a victory having gone for three games without a win.
Yadah FC who are bankrolled by PHD Ministries’ Prophet Walter Magaya are likely to have an appreciative backing at Luveve with their church congregants based in Bulawayo eager to see the team which is bankrolled by their “papa”.
Rovers’ hopes will be pinned on the likes of goalkeeper Stephen Chimusoro, left back Jillen Nsingo, midfielders Lucky Ndlela and Munyaradzi Chitambwe as well as striking trio of captain Bukhosi Sibanda, Obrey Chirinda and Newman Sianchali.
Yadah FC players to watch are former national team goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, left back Brian Briya Chikwenya formerly with Bulawayo City and Bulawayo Chiefs as well as ex-How Mine utility player Moses Gutu.
They also have strikers Wellington Kamudyariwa and Moses Demera, skipper Brian Mapfumo and ex-FC Platinum winger Tatenda Dzumbunu capable of giving Rovers anxious moments.
Tomorrow, Chicken Inn and How Mine lock horns in a Bulawayo derby to be played at Luveve Stadium, with both sides’ confidence levels high after recording victories in their last games.
Chicken Inn made seven changes from the side that lost 0-1 to Black Rhinos and went on to beat Hwange at the Colliery Stadium 1-0 while How Mine edged Bantu Rovers 1-0.
Chicken Inn gaffer Rahman Gumbo will be hoping that his side replicate the fighting spirit they exhibited against Hwange while his How Mine counterpart Kelvin Kaindu is keen on having his strikers convert the chances that they create.
PSL Match Day Seven Fixtures
Today: ZPC Kariba v Bulawayo City (Nyamhunga), Tsholotsho FC v Harare City (Dulivhadzimo), Ngezi Platinum v Shabanie Mine (Baobab), Chapungu v Highlanders (Ascot), Bantu Rovers v Yadah FC (Luveve)
Tomorrow: Chicken Inn v How Mine (Luveve), FC Platinum v Hwange (Maglas), Triangle United v Black Rhinos (Gibbo)
POSTPONED: Dynamos v Caps United (TBA)