HIGHLANDERS coach Baltemar Brito is relishing a tasty contest in the colossal Castle Lager Premier Soccer League tie between his team and champions elect FC Platinum.
Brito is hoping that FC Platinum play their usual open attacking game and the miners’ gaffer Norman Mapaeza has promised that his team will be their usual selves.
A win for FC Platinum will move them closer to clinching their fourth league title on the trot, while for Highlanders, they are looking to place themselves higher on the table as they build towards challenging for the title next term.
Save for three players, strikers Toto Banda, Mthabisi Ncube and defender Andrew Tandi, who have been out injured for sometime and will probably start playing next season, Highlanders boast of a full strength squad.
They play against FC Platinum, who miss the services of suspended utility player Gift Mbweti, who has accumulated three yellow cards.
Brito has lots of respect and admiration for Mapeza, but has said they will be out for victory tomorrow to fulfil the expectations of the multitudes of fans.
“We expect that they don’t come here with a small team. They come here to play game-by-game to give the supporters an entertaining game. Mapeza, the coach, likes to play a good game. He plays open and attacking football, so we expect that they come here not to play like a small team because we don’t play like a small team and will put high pressure and we will try our best to win the game, which is what the Highlanders supporters want,” Brito said.
He called out the fans over hooliganism and pleaded with them to let the game flow to its conclusion.
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The tie at Mandava Stadium in April was abandoned towards the end after Highlanders fans protested a penalty awarded to the hosts and invaded the pitch.
The Bulawayo giants were found guilty on account of their fans’ unruly behaviour and the game was given to FC Platinum on a 3-0 score line.
Mandla Mpofu presided over Highlanders then.
“It is one of the biggest games of the weekend. One of the biggest games in the country and we expect our stadium to be packed and the fans will behave because the club is getting fined because of that behaviour; hooliganism does not make any sense. We urge the fans to come in huge numbers and to behave well until the end of the game and celebrate Highlanders’ victory. We will do our best to win the game, but we know that we will play a good team; a team that is three-time champions, a team whose approach is attacking,” the Highlanders mentor said.
With Bosso banking on their leading scorer Lynoth Chikuhwa and the evergreen Devine Mhindirira, they will have to watch out for FC Platinum’s Walter Musona and Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya.
But Mapeza is also looking forward to the game and says he has three players who will have to pass a late fitness today.
“Our preparations have gone really well. I am more than happy with the attitude and the desire which the guys are showing,” he said.
“Everybody knows our situation. We are going to Bulawayo to face Highlanders and if you look at their previous matches, they have been doing very well. I think they are the second team in the league which has managed to collect a lot of points, so it is going to be a massive game for us, but at the end of the day what is important for us is to be there with a positive mind, knowing exactly where we are and just play our normal game without any pressure,” Mapeza added.
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