LIMPING Highlanders come to the capital for the first time this afternoon seeking redemption against plucky Premiership newboys Flame Lily in a must win Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at bumpy Lafarge Stadium.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Bosso have struggled for fluency since the start of the campaign under Bongani Mafu who has presided over three wins, three defeats and one draw and collecting just 10 points out of a possible 21.
That poor run compounded by the weekend’s 1-0 defeat to arch rivals Caps United has sparked tension and frustration in their dressing room and also among the hard-to-please supporters, with reports that some of the players are not impressed with his management style.
The Bosso coach is aware of the sound of knives being sharpened as the season staggers on and is all too aware that coaching a team like Highlanders is no kids’ play.
And he has an opportunity this afternoon to repay the faith shown by the club hierarchy.
While playing at home has some advantages, fans can turn against their own team and this being the first time for Bosso to make the trip to Harare this season, Mafu has a perfect opportunity to plot the downfall of Flame Lily without pressure from the demanding supporters.
Bosso are in unfamiliar seventh position on the league table after seven matches and face a side that is also hungry for success. But Mafu remains cautious.
“They (Flame Lily) are a Premier League side and we are at the same level. We are all the same. We are going to play this match like we are playing any other team in the Premier League,” said Mafu whose camp has been hit by injuries to key players.
Highlanders will be without Mthulisi Maphosa, Teenage Hadebe, Douglas Sibanda and Njabulo Nyoni who are all injured. Mafu, however, said that is not going to affect them. “No, it won’t affect us. We have enough depth,” he said.
Flame Lily are coming from a drawn game against ZPC Kariba having shocked high flying Triangle 1-0 in the previous encounter- their only defeat of the campaign. They are now fifth from the bottom with six points from seven matches. They have won one, drawn three and lost three. That has given Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera confidence and he declared yesterday they were not intimated by their more illustrious opponents.
“We are playing very well and are ready for Highlanders. It doesn’t matter we are coming from Division One. We are not intimidated by them (Highlanders). We are not saying this because they have not been getting positive results.
“We know it could have been a question of being unlucky. Our advantage is that we play as a team. We can’t single out players although we have got a solid and disciplined defence,” said Saruchera whose defence is manned by Ralph Kawondera, Shadreck Jimu, Gift Phiri and Edwin Madhananga.
Meanwhile, Harare City, still smarting from a 3-1 defeat to Triangle at the weekend have a tough assignment against unbeaten ZPC Kariba at Rufaro Stadium. Taurai Mangwiro will be under pressure to deliver against the electricity men or questions will be asked about his pedigree to challenge for the championship. The Sunshine City Boys have collected just six points out of a possible 21. They have won one, drawn three and lost two and are in 10th position on the league table. ZPC Kariba are in sixth position with 10 points having won two and drawn four.
Today: Tsholotsho FC v Chapungu (White City Stadium) ,Harare City v ZPC Kariba (Rufaro Stadium), FC Platinum v How Mine (Mandava Stadium), Flame Lily v Highlanders (Lafarge Stadium) ,Dongo Sawmill v Buffaloes (Vengere Stadium), Chicken Inn v Triangle United (Luveve Stadium)
Thursday: Caps United v Hwange (National Sports Stadium) Whawha v Dynamos (Ascot Stadium)