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Key players to miss BancABC quarter-finals

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The weekend BancABC Sup8r quarter-finals to be played in Midlands will be without key players who are on national assignment with the Under-23 Young Warriors in South Africa for the Zone VI All-Africa Games first leg final football qualifier.

Last year’s semi-finalists and Bulawayo giants Highlanders take on Caps United at Baghdad Stadium on Sunday without the services of first-choice goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.

Coach Mkhuphali Masuku will have to do with his number two choice Lovemore Makwavarara as Bosso seek to progress to the next round of the Sup8r tournament.

The Green Machine will be without striker Simba Sithole, who will also be part of the Under-23 squad and will be joining his new club South African Absa Premiership side Mamelodi Sundowns after the clash with Amaglug-glug.

Be that as it may, Highlanders and Caps United go into Sunday’s match smarting from 1-0 league defeats last weekend.

A badly-assembled Bosso outfit fell to Hwange 1-0 at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday with Chipangano collecting maximum points courtesy of a goal by impressive Zambian Kennedy Kashema.

Masuku said also in doubt for the Sunday match is midfielder Louis Matawu, who sustained ankle injury when Bosso beat Zimbabwe Saints 3-0 at Barbourfields Stadium.

Coach Moses Chunga’s Caps United also lost 1-0 to Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium last Sunday.

Despite the missing key players, Sunday’s match is expected to produce fireworks.

The other quarter-final pits Gunners and Shabanie at Ascot Stadium on Saturday and the former will miss their instrumental left-back Qadr Amin, also with the Young Warriors. Amin joined the squad after missing training due to a nagging ankle injury but was selected for the team.

Gunners are also without coach Darlington Dodo, who is the Under-23 Young Warriors assistant coach and travelled to South Africa.

In his absence, Gunners assistant coach George Madira will take charge. Fans all over the country will get a feel of top-flight football as indications are that this year’s BancABC Sup8r Cup competition will be spread to other venues, other than the usual Harare and Bulawayo stadia.

Meanwhile, Caps United captain Edmore “Zikeeper” Sibanda said beating Highlanders would be enough solace for the defeat they suffered to bitter rivals Dynamos last Sunday.

Zikeeper on Thursday admitted to NewsDay Sport that the “horror” of that heartbreak was still haunting his team and said the only way to exorcise it was by beating Highlanders. He also admitted his team was under pressure to appease the fans who are still reeling from the shock loss to Dynamos.

The mountainous goalkeeper wept uncontrollably after the final whistle at the National Sports Stadium, following Tawanda Muparati’s last-minute priceless goal.

“This is the match we have to win at all costs following what happened last week,” said Sibanda.

“Some of the players are still low after that game and the only way we can pick everyone up is by beating Highlanders. We have to put that horror behind,” added Sibanda.

Highlanders’ pressure is different. Bosso have failed to find their rhythm in the last four matches having lost to Motor Action and FC Platinum before beating Zimbabwe Saints, but then falling to Hwange last week.

“We have not performed to our usual standards in the last few weeks, we have to be consistent,” said Gilbert Banda, the Highlanders captain.

“We know Caps United will come into the match looking for revenge, but we are prepared for them. We will play our normal game and hopefully we will win the match,” added the dreadlocked defender.

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