Ricky Zililo Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS FC begin life without Kelvin Kaindu tomorrow when they take on Caps United hoping to end their three-match winless streak.
Kaindu quit the Bosso hot seat last week following a string of poor results which had seen the club only managing to pick nine points out of a possible 27 in the second half of the season.
Since turning to the second stanza, Highlanders have registered two identical 1-0 wins against Triangle and FC Platinum, three draws and four defeats.
Tomorrow, the Bulawayo giants face Caps United with a “new broom” in the form of interim head coach Mark Mathe, who ironically was in charge of Bosso when the two sides met in the first leg which Highlanders won 4-0.
Mathe is not looking into history and has challenged his charges to up their game.
“This is a new ball game all together which brings a fresh challenge for the players,” Mathe said.
“What we’ve agreed on as the technical team together with players is that we’ve to pull in one direction and try to put smiles back on our fans by winning. Everyone has been working hard in as far as addressing our shortcomings is concerned and I believe that it’s through unity of purpose that we can be able to win our games.”
A blow for Bosso is the unavailability of the natural right back Webster Chingodza who is nursing a toe injury. They will also be without strikers Njabulo Ncube (knee) and Kudzi Machazane who is carrying a neck injury.
Inspirational captain Ariel Sibanda, who has on a number of matches made the difference for Bosso with some stunning saves, will guard the goalposts with fellow Soccer Star of the Year finalist contender Felix Chindungwe mopping up in central midfield.
With Chingodza ruled out, Mathe is likely to use Eric Mudzingwa at the right side of defence with Innocent Mapuranga, Dumisani Ndlovu and Bruce Kangwa completing the defence line.
There is high competition for places in the midfield which are being competed for by Joel Ngodzo, Welcome Ndiweni, Rahman Kutsanzira, Valentine Ndaba, Mthulisi Maphosa, Pasca Manhanga and Tapiwa Dephistara.
Troubled Maphosa whose disciplinary problems hogged the headlines all week trained with the team all week. He might not be in the right frame of mind given what he has gone through.
The club’s leading scorer Charles Sibanda and Simba Sithole are likely to lead the attack with maybe Gabriel Nyoni or Ozias Zibande coming in as second half substitutes.
Mathe is aware that nothing other than a victory will keep their slim title hopes alive.
“What’s important is to go there and fight for everything because that’s what we want and what the fans desire too. We’re going there with a positive mind as we try to recover from the two successive defeats,” he said.
Bosso must expect a tough game in Harare and have to be at their best to end Caps United’s six-match unbeaten run.
Caps United’s last defeat was away to Hwange where they lost 1-2 on August 7.
The Green Machine who are within reach of the title, trailing leaders Dynamos by four points, will be out to exert revenge on Highlanders who beat them 0-4 in the reverse fixture.
That defeat is still vivid in the Green Machine camp and the Bulawayo giants must expect a good run for their money.
Luis Maio, Caps United’s manager, said their aim is to close in on table toppers Dynamos who they trail by four points.
“The desire to succeed this season is what’s driving Caps United. We’re taking each game as it comes and this match against Highlanders is as good as any other league encounter that we’ve played. They beat us in the first leg and we’ve prepared in the best way to make sure that we get maximum points on Sunday. It’s not about revenge but it’s all about collecting maximum points,” Luis Maio said.
Caps United’s trump cards are Gerald Phiri, utility player Hardlife Zvirekwi, Malawian import Ishmael Thindwa, Leonard Fiyado and his striking partner Dominic Chungwa as well as captain Tapiwa Khumbuyani.
They also have a safe pair of gloves in seasoned goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube.
In other matches, defending champions Dynamos travel to Mutare tomorrow for a date with mid-table Buffaloes while ZPC Kariba will this afternoon play host to relegation haunted Triangle United.
Both DeMbare and ZPC Kariba are expected to labour to victory as their opponents want to steer away from the murky relegation waters.
At Hartsfield Stadium this afternoon Chicken Inn entertain Black Rhinos with Bantu Rovers fighting for survival away to Chiredzi.
Joey Antipas will be eager to collect maximum points for the home team.
Hwange will play host to How Mine. An explosive match is what it could turn out to be.
Luke Masomere has so much to gain as a win would lift his team towards safety and score against Hwange a team that he once coached.
Nation Dube and his assistants are hungry for a top four finish.