BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS’ new coach, Mandla Mpofu, will suffer a big blow in his first league assignment against Ngezi Platinum Stars at Baobab Stadium tomorrow after top striker Prince Dube has been ruled out of the match due to suspension.
Compounding Mpofu’s problems is the injury of Ray Lunga, who was in blistering form prior to the two-week Premier Soccer League break set aside for the Africa Cup of Nations
competitions in Egypt.
Zambian striker Peter Nyirenda also picked an injury at training and has been ruled out by team doctor Shepherd Khumalo.
“Prince (Dube) is on suspension and that is a big blow for us, but we have to soldier on. We have to go and do duty,” Mpofu said yesterday.
Mpofu replaced Madinda Ndlovu as the new technical manager, with latter having joined Botswana side Gaborone United.
Khumalo confirmed Lunga’s injury.
“Ray (Lunga) injured himself yesterday (Wednesday) at training and is still limping. It is safe for him not to join the squad, but he is most likely to be fit for the next game against
FC Platinum,” he said.
Highlanders’ injury blow has been subsisting as both right-backs McClive Phiri and Bukhosi Ncube are also on the treatment table.
Ncube is struggling with a career-threatening right knee injury, while Phiri awaits the doctors’ clearance after he fractured his arm in the goalless draw against Herentals last month at Barbourfields Stadium.
Despite the setback, Mpofu said the majority of players would do duty tomorrow and were raring to go.
“I think the boys have been working very hard. We have been talking about this during the course of the season that we want to make it a point that we try by all means not to lose to teams that we lost to last year. Ngezi took six points from us last year, and we are going there with that at the back of our minds. We can’t lose to Ngezi again this year. The boys are prepared mentally. We want to go out there and come out with a positive result,” Mpofu said.
In the absence of Dube, Mpofu is likely to go with Tinashe Makanda, Cleopas Kapupurika and Godfrey Makaruse in attack.
Before the league break, Highlanders beat Dynamos, their third win in 12 games. After Ngezi Platinum, they will be at home against FC Platinum.