HIGHLANDERS will be without leading Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) scorer Charles Sibanda when they play Buffaloes at Hartsfields Stadium this afternoon due to a suspension.
Sibanda, who is also facing injury concerns, has accumulated three yellow cards from games against Harare City on May 22, Black Rhinos on August 6 and Triangle on August 21 and will serve a one match suspension.
The match is Moses Chunga’s first in charge of the Mutare-based soldiers since taking over last week.
Buffaloes lost 3-1 to Highlanders at Sakubva Stadium in the first fixture under the tutelage of Luke Masomere, who is now in charge of How Mine.
Sibanda notched a brace in Mutare on May 24 with the third goal a deflection from Buffaloes defender Liberty Chakoroma off Sibanda’s effort.
The Bulawayo giants have stuck to $5 for the rest of the ground, $10 for the wings and $15 for the VIP bay following charges on their first match at Hartsfield against Triangle on August 21, in a bid to control crowds.
Their main home – Barbourfields Stadium – is closed for renovations for the Region 5 Games that will take place in December in the City of Kings.
Log leaders Dynamos, on 39 points, host Chiredzi at Rufaro while ZPC Kariba, who are at par with Bosso on 38 points, will also be in Bulawayo on Friday against troubled How Mine.
Caps United – just two points away from DeMbare – are also in the City of Kings and Queens at Hartsfield against struggling Bantu Rovers tomorrow.
Highlanders head coach Kelvin Kaindu’s main worry ahead of today’s clash with Buffaloes are injuries to a number of his charges that include new signing Kudzanai Machazane, Joel Ngodzo and defenders Honest Moyo and Dumisani Ndlovu while Rahman Kutsanzira, Gabriel Nyoni and Simon Munawa have been out of action for some time due to injury.
Another mid-season signing Pasca Manhanga is serving suspension after he saw red in the match against Triangle at Hartsfield.
Kaindu, however, said he hopes most of the injured players would be fit before today’s tie.
Chunga, who lost 3-0 to Highlanders while at Chiredzi in April at Chishamiso Stadium, said the remaining league games would be the toughest as teams at the top gun for the title and those at the bottom fight off relegation.
He says they have to find a way to beat Bosso in their own backyard.
Buffaloes, who drew 1-1 with How Mine in their last league match at Hartsfield on August 20 after having beaten Bantu Rovers 2-1 at home, are on the position eight on the log table with 29 points.
“It is going to be my first game with Buffaloes and it’s looking good. But what is going to be a big challenge is that the teams that are at the bottom are fighting relegation while those at the top are fighting to win the championship. We have to find a way of beating Highlanders. The boys have shown the spirit to do better and they understand the magnitude of the task ahead of them,” Chunga said.
Buffaloes head to Bulawayo with the likes of Kastigu Juwakinyu, Tafadzwa Mombeshora, Marshal Machazane, Jacob Muzokomba, Erea Phiri and Philip Chandisaita.
The gangly Mombeshora was at Shabanie Mine last season and followed Masomere to the eastern border city with Phiri.
Muzokomba has been in the books of Highlanders before and will relish the opportunity to strike at his former employer.
At Rimuka Stadium today, Harare City, who have recovered from their horrible start to the season, face Joisten Mathuthu’s Black Rhinos hoping to continue their ascendancy on the log