Ricky Zililo and Tobias Mandoreba, Sports Reporters
HIGHLANDERS coach Erol Akbay says their opponents in tomorrow’s Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Barbourfields Stadium ZPC Kariba give him “goose bumps”.
ZPC Kariba, who were promoted into the Premiership in 2014, have been Highlanders’ bogey side, winning four out of their six meetings, losing just once and drawing once. Two of those victories were registered in Bulawayo, 3-1 in 2014 and 1-0 in 2015.
It was only last season that the electricity generators’ dominance came to an end at Barbourfields Stadium when Adrian Silla’s 40th minute left volley from inside the box beat goalkeeper Takabva Mawaya.
The build-up to the goal had seen Benson Phiri’s cross from the right being tipped to the left by Mawaya and the ball fell to overlapping left-back Honest Moyo, who sent in a cross that was headed goal ward by Prince Dube, but his effort was cleared off the line by Lincoln Zvasiya. Zvasiya’s clearance fell to Silla, who hit the ball with aplomb to give Bosso the lead.
From the mentioned players, only Zvasiya will not be available for tomorrow’s encounter, as he is now at Dynamos.
ZPC Kariba have basically retained most of the players they had last season, just like Bosso.
“ZPC Kariba are not easy. Last year they were better than Dynamos. Actually they’re a dangerous side,” said Akbay.
The Ducthman’s side, who suffered a shock 0-1 home defeat to Shabanie Mine a fortnight ago, are still smarting from an Independence Cup final loss to archrivals Dynamos and are hardpressed to find their mojo.
Highlanders forced the Independence Cup final into a penalty shootout on Tuesday, with a late goal, as they forced a 1-1 draw in regulation time. Bosso went on to lose the shootout 2-3.
Akbay, whose side seem to be struggling to unlock opposition defences, will be hoping the return of Rahman Kutsanzira, whom he said brings balance to his team together with Simon Munawa, inspires them to victory.
Bosso are still without the foreign striking duo of Tambwe Kalunga and Yves Ebabali who were granted permits last week.
According to the rules governing the game, the duo can only play in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) a month after being granted the permits.
Acting Highlanders’ chairman Modern Ngwenya said the technical team will have to do with local players as they wait for Ebabali and Kalunga to be elegible for selection.
“We actually got the permits of the three on 31 March. What this means is that they will only play on the 1st of May,” said Ngwenya.
Akbay said: “The absence of the foreign strikers and players like King Nadolo, Godfrey Makaruse, Rahman and Gabriel Nyoni affects our plans. It’s good that Rahman is back, but we’re still missing most of these guys. Hopefully we will get it right on Sunday,” Akbay said.
ZPC Kariba’s Tawanda Munyanduri, Appiah Sylvester, Tawanda Nyamandwe, returnee Raphael Manuvire and gangly striker Francesco Zekumbawire are some of the players to watch for the visitors.
Meanwhile, Hwange coach Nation Dube says his charges are ready to upset the apple cart and collect maximum points against former champions in their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash at the Colliery Stadium tomorrow.
Matches involving Chipangano and DeMbare always create a hyped and super charged atmosphere in the coal mining town from the morning of match day and Dube believes his boys will deliver.
“The boys are ready for battle and have shown signs of ability to deliver on the crucial stage. The positive result against Chapungu last weekend should spur my young side to fight hard against a big team,” said Dube.
“The old and new players are gelling well as evidenced by the points we have picked up so far and it is a sign that something positive is brewing in the team.
We lost many players, but that also left a gap for other talented youngsters to shine.”
Dube will be hoping new striker Nomore Chinyerere, who scored last week, will again deliver as he features alongside veteran Gilbert Zulu.
Captain Gerald Ndlovu, who is expected to marshal the defence that features youngsters Houdlacks Kaunda and Clayton Phiri, echoed his coach’s sentiments and declared war on Dynamos.
“The morale in camp is very high. In Gweru we worked as a unit and managed to down the airmen (Chapungu) and on Sunday it will be time to ensure the Glamour Boys go back to Harare with no glamour at all,” said Ndovu.
The supporters’ chairpersons of both teams believe their respective teams will be victorious.
“Our team is buoyed by the victory over Chapungu and will want to prove that it was no fluke. We have no big names to talk about and it makes us unpredictable against opponents. We will beat the drums and cheer our boys to victory and I am predicting a 3-1 win for Hwange,” said Hwange supporters’ chairman Maybin Dizomba.
Dynamos’ Hwange chapter chairperson Wellington Mandishona says their Independence Cup triumph against Highlanders on Tuesday was a warning to other teams and positive sign of what is to come.
“Definitely DeMbare is not coming to Hwange for some mining business, but for three points. The cup wins over Caps and Bosso is a warning to Hwange and others. Emmanuel Mandiranga and Quality Kangadze will propel us to a 2-0 win,” Mandishona said.
In other games, Bulawayo City and FC Platinum face off at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon, while Kelvin Kaindu’s How Mine will be out for their first league victory of the season at Luveve Stadium where they play host to Chapungu.
Match Day Four Fixtures
Today: Bulawayo City v Platinum (Barbourfields), How Mine v Chapungu (Luveve), Yadah FC v Ngezi Platinum (National Sports Stadium)
Tomorrow: Triangle United v Chicken Inn (Gibbo), Hwange v Dynamos (Colliery), Caps United v Tsholotsho FC (National Sports Stadium), Highlanders v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields), Shabanie Mine v Harare City (Maglas)