FC Platinum influential midfielder Charles Sibanda returns to football action this afternoon after serving a two-match suspension as the mining side clash with Gunners in the quarter-finals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup at the Colliery Stadium in Hwange.
The dreadlocked midfielder and reigning Footballer of the Year was fined and banned for two matches following an assault on Chicken Inn assistant coach Adam Ndlovu during a league match at Luveve Stadium in Bulawayo in August.
His absence was felt in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Gunners, coached by Moses Chunga, in a Castle Premiership match at Larfarge and his return means changes to the starting line-up with Bheki Ncube likely to be sacrificed.
But as Sibanda returns this afternoon, he knows what awaits him — Gunners are the only team that has beaten them twice in the league this season, 3-0 at Maglas and 2-1 in Harare, and have shown very little respect for the expensively assembled side.
After last week’s loss, Chunga observed that FC Platinum were too slow in their reaction and considering the age difference between veteran Menard Mupera and Ali Sadiki, the coach might have made the correct observation and kept the foot on the pedal in the second half.
FC Platinum, under the guidance of Rahman Gumbo and chasing a league and cup double in their debut Premiership season, are expected to maintain basically the same team that did duty last Saturday, although with some tactical changes.
NewsDay Sport looks at some key players from both sides that can define the destination of the match. There is no extra time should the game end in a draw, instead the teams will head straight to the dreaded penalty shootout.
While Gunners are looking to maintain their tag as FC Platinum’s bogey side, Gumbo’s charges want to quickly stem the tide and assert their presence ahead of the last four games of the Premiership race.