HARARE City’s relegation fight suffered a major setback with news that star midfielder, William Manondo will be suspended for their crucial Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against title contenders FC Platinum at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
BY HENRY MHARA
Manondo is suspended for accumulating three yellow cards in the matches against Bulawayo City, Caps United and Chicken Inn.
Other players, who will miss action this weekend due to suspension are Innocent Kutsanzira of Bulawayo City, How Mine’s Praise Tonha and Black Rhinos goalkeeper, Herbert Rusawo.
Manondo’s unavailability comes as a huge blow for City coach, Philani Ncube, who would have wanted all his players available in their fight to survive relegation.
City are 13th on the log standings, with 34 points, just three above Shabanie Mine, who occupy the last relegation spot, and a loss tomorrow could further complicate their chances of survival after a defeat away to Chicken Inn in their last league match.
A win at home will see them moving to 10th, at least for 24 hours before the other teams play. The result will help ease relegation pressure on the Chibuku Super Cup finalists.
Ncube has targeted at least three wins from the remaining five matches, points which he believes will see his team through.
He wants to kick-start that run with a positive result against the log leaders, who will be looking to open a four-point gap at the top and strengthen their chances of a first ever league title.
With Manondo out, Ncube could be forced to call on young Learnmore Muyambo to fill in the big boots in the midfield.
The former Chemhanza High School student has been used sparingly in the team, normally introduced in the second half of games.
Muyambo said he is ready if called upon and admitted his team is desperate to collect maximum points.
“We are looking at collecting three points at home. We have been working hard in preparation for the match, so that we get a win that enables us to move up the log standings. Where we are at the moment is not right, so it’s up to us the players to fight hard and get ourselves out of our current predicament,” he said.
City will bank on their solid home record in recent times for confidence, where they have won six and drawn one in their last seven matches at Rufaro.
It is their away form that should worry Ncube. His team has managed just one win on the road in the league since he took over nine matches into the league, a 1-2 victory over Black Rhinos.
After that, he has only managed one draw and lost seven.