Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE rescheduled ZNA Commander’s Charity Shield semi-final tie between Highlanders and FC Platinum will now be played at Luveve Stadium on Sunday due to the poor drainage system at the initial venue – Barbourfields Stadium.
The change of venue was announced by Highlanders secretary-general Emmett Ndlovu during the club’s weekly press conference yesterday afternoon.
Barbourfields Stadium continues to deteriorate in standards despite being one of the best stadiums in the southern part of Africa as a result of poor workmanship in the run-up to the African Union Sports Council Region Five Under 20 Youth Games, which Bulawayo played host to in 2014.
The government, through the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, has since ordered a forensic audit and results are expected at the end of this month.
“The semi-final tie is still on this Sunday unless something happens with the weather patterns which will make it impossible to play, but of note is that it has now been slotted for Luveve Stadium because the original venue, Barbourfields Stadium remains unplayable,” said Ndlovu.
Head coach, Erol Akbay, said they are looking forward to the match and wants to win it and go on to defend the ZNA Commander’s Shield, which they have won two years in succession.
They first lifted it after beating old nemesis Dynamos in 2015 and then retained it last year by overcoming a determined Harare City.
“Despite the fact that we have not had the best of preparations due to the rains, we want to win this match and defend our trophy. We have been training in Gwabalanda using that Five-a-Side venue owned by Bantu Rovers and while it gives that high tempo football, it has not given us the opportunity for a full XI versus XI match scenario,” said Akbay.
He said they could not practise any tactics as they would have wanted due to the size of the pitch.
“However, we are ready for the match on Sunday,” said Akbay.
Bosso are likely to start with the same line-up that started against visiting Power Dynamos on Tuesday even though they struggled, especially in the first half, where the Zambians were in complete control of proceedings.
Highlanders were particularly inept in midfield where Tendai Ngulube and Simon Munawa were present in spirit only.
Young Bukhosi Ncube, playing as a right-back, gave a top drawer performance and is certain to be in the starting line-up again as well as the attacking trio of Gabriel Nyoni, young Prince Dube and new boy Rodrick Mutuma.
“Bukhosi is ready (for the big stage), he played well on Tuesday,” said Akbay yesterday.
No update was provided on defender Peter Muduhwa, who sustained a knee injury in the 31st minute of the Tuesday friendly.