Highlanders coach, Erol Akbay is not reading much into Chapungu’s heavy defeat at the hands of Caps United last week, as his side confronts the struggling airmen in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Ascot Stadium this afternoon.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Akbay has predicted a tough match for his side, playing against a physical Chapungu in a smaller pitch.
“They lost 4-0 to Caps United last week and I am sure they will be out to make sure they don’t lose again against us. It will be a difficult game playing a team like that. Their pitch is small and they a play a very physical and aggressive game,” he said.
Leading the pack with 12 points from five games, Highlanders take on Chapungu without left-back, Honest Moyo, who is suspended having accumulated three yellow cards and Akbay might be forced to juggle between his captain, Erick Mudzingwa and Tendai Ngulube as a replacement.
Mudzingwa missed the game against Tsholotsho and ZPC Kariba after he was shown a red card in the 1-0 loss to Shabanie Mine and was also not available last week, when Highlanders beat Ngezi Platinum Stars.
Simon Munawa, who has a knack for scoring important goals for Highlanders, but struggling for form, is likely to be thrust in the midfield with Prince Dube and Roderick Mutuma upfront.
Akbay has indicated that he might be playing one of the foreigners in today’s match and chances are Congolese Yves Ebabali could get the nod for his first match in Highlanders colours this afternoon, as Equatorial Guinea’s Manuel Esono Obiang Buale’s paperwork is still to be regularised.
Chapungu have been struggling, having gone six matches without a win, but they have some exciting players in Blessing Sahondo and Ian Nyoni acquired from the lower leagues.
The experience of Tinei Chitora, who came in from ZPC Kariba, as well as the expertise of Xolisani Ncube may carry them through.
Veteran, Philip Marufu will also be expected to play a key role, as is Ngonidzashe Murisa.
Despite playing at home, coach, Tendai Chikuni said his side will have the underdog tag against Highlanders.
“Against Highlanders, we will be the underdogs, but I am confident the guys have what it takes to get a positive result. We are also playing at home and it is very important to preserve our territory,” he said.
Tonderai Ndiraya’s Ngezi Platinum Stars invade Zvishavane, hoping to end a three-match winless run, against top-flight returnees Shabanie Mine.
Shabanie have blown hot and cold in the topflight so far, but they will fancy themselves on their home ground.
Ngezi will be not be an easy proposition, as they have already shown so far, having held champions Caps United to a draw recently.
ZPC Kariba, who have won their last two matches, welcome Bulawayo City to Nyamhunga Stadium this afternoon also hoping to stretch their good run.
Today: ZPC Kariba v Bulawayo City (Nyamhunga), Tsholotsho FC v Harare City (Dulivhadzimu), Ngezi Platinum v Shabanie Mine (Baobab), Chapungu v Highlanders (Ascot), Bantu Rovers v Yadah (Luveve)
Tomorrow: Chicken Inn v How Mine (Luveve), FC Platinum v Hwange (Maglas), Triangle v Black Rhinos (Gibbo)