Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS players will have to overcome exhaustion from gruelling road trips to Mutare and Kariba if they harbour hopes of progressing to the next round of the Chibuku Super Cup.
Bosso clash with Yadah in the opening round tomorrow at Barbourfields Stadium and coach Madinda Ndlovu is concerned about his players’ fitness.
Last week, Highlanders played three games inside six days; first taking on Dynamos in an energy sapping 3-0 home win. That was followed by a road trip to Rusape where they lost 0-1 to Mutare City Rovers and Kariba where they fell 0-2 to ZPC Kariba.
Because of accommodation problems in Rusape, Highlanders had to sleep in Mutare and travelled to Rusape on match day.
The high temperatures in Kariba also took a toll on the players.
In the build-up to tomorrow’s game, Ndlovu said his charges were not in the best of shape, but emphasised that it wasn’t an excuse for tomorrow’s encounter.
“We’ve put behind whatever transpired in those two games and are now looking forward to the Chibuku Super Cup where we face a stubborn team that has been posting good results. Even though our players are not yet in good shape, because you can still see that fatigue really hit them hard, we have to win this encounter. We will see whether to give them supplements to recover,” said Ndlovu.
Yadah are tricky opponents and Highlanders know that in as much as they want to lift the cup, all other teams are keen to win the competition, whose champions will represent Zimbabwe in the Caf Confederation Cup next year.
Bosso, who drew 0-0 against Yadah in a league match, will have to keep a close eye on ex-Highlanders’ striker Ralph Matema, who is enjoying his game at the relegation threatened club.
Midfielders Brian Banda, Denzel Khumalo and Nigel Makumbe, attacker Gabriel Nyoni and overlapping right-back McClive Phiri carry Bosso’s hopes.
In other matches, defending PSL champions FC Platinum are going for a league and cup double, and open their account with a home match against Chapungu at Mandava Stadium this afternoon.
Championship chasing Ngezi Platinum Stars will be at home against Herentals, while troubled Harare giants Dynamos will be seeking to atone for a poor season by winning the Chibuku Super Cup. Dynamos are at home to Bulawayo Chiefs this afternoon.
Bulawayo Chiefs coach, Garthly Chipuka, described today’s match as a “tough task” since his team has not been playing well of late.
Bulawayo Chiefs have not won in their last four games, with their last victory coming against Mutare City on August 22.
Dynamos have failed to win any game in their last three matches, falling 0-3 to Highlanders before settling for a goalless draw against Chapungu and a 0-1 loss to Harare City.
Today: FC Platinum v Chapungu (Mandava), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Herentals (Baobab), Black Rhinos v Nichrut (National Sports Stadium), Dynamos v Bulawayo Chiefs (Rufaro)
Tomorrow: Highlanders v Yadah (Barbourfields), Caps United v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Triangle United v Shabanie Mine (Gibbo).