HIGHLANDERS will look to consolidate their lead at the top of the table when they take on a depleted Chicken Inn in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) match at Barbourfields Stadium on Wednesday.
Missing from Chicken Inn will be key midfielder Thabani Goredema and dependable defender Moses Jackson through suspension. The duo has been key to Chicken Inn’s success this season and their absence may tip the match in Bosso’s favour.
It is a game both teams however cannot afford to lose if they want to stay in the hunt for the league championship and bring the title to Bulawayo for the first time in seven years.
Highlanders need to consolidate their position by collecting another three points while Chicken Inn will be hopping to reduce the gap by defeating Bosso in front of their fans.
Kelvin Kaindu’s side are top of the PSL log standings with 29 points from 13 games while Chicken are in fourth place with 23 points from as many games and a win for the Gamecocks will see them cutting the gap to just three points.
A win for Bosso will take their points tally to 32 and can still afford to maintain top position even if they lose. Being a derby however, it is a game that can go either way setting the stage for what should be an exciting encounter.
Highlanders coach Kaindu has described the game as very important for his players because their opponents are a tricky customer who can rise to the occasion.
‘‘This is an important game for us and we respect our opponents very much. Chicken Inn are a good team with good players and the match being a mid-week derby; it will be very difficult for both sides,’’ said Kaindu.
‘‘Derby matches are unpredictable since it is all about the players. Most of these players grew up together and have played with each other from the juniors. We however are looking forward to a good game.’’
Asked what game plan he has to plot Chicken Inn’s downfall, Kaindu said he would just focus on the game and mind Bosso’s own business.
‘‘We don’t have a specific game for a certain team but we just focus on the job at hand and play our own game,’’ he said.
Kaindu however hinted at changes for the game against Black Rhinos on Sunday a number of fringe players like Ozias Zibande, Bobby Nkomo, Mgcini Sibanda, Lucky Nyoni, Douglas Sibanda and goalkeeper Ashford Katsande started in the first team.Advertisement
When quizzed if he would throw some of these players to the fray, Kaindu said it all depends on current form.
‘‘Yes some fringe players did well on Sunday, but we will assess everyone in training. Those who do well during our training sessions will definitely play. It is about who is doing well in training,’’ he
Chicken Inn are however not taking the game lying down either, and coach Mandla ‘‘Lulu’’ Mpofu warned Bosso that they must not expect any respect from his side.
‘‘The match against Highlanders is like any other game although we have doubled our efforts in training. We have prepared well for this game and we are looking for a positive result,” he said.
“Last year we drew all our league games with Bosso but I cannot read much into that; (Wednesday’s) encounter is a different ball game altogether.”
Mpofu also said his charges would not be overawed by their more fancied opponents.
‘‘Off the field yes we can respect them but on the field of play they should not expect any respect from us. As a team we want to win as much as they want to,” he said.
“But this being a derby it is about the players and not the coaches. The coach is there to psyche up the players and the rest of the job is for players to do on the field of play.
Elsewhere Black Mambas play host to Shabanie Mine at Morris Depot, while former Cup Kings Caps United host Hwange FC at the National Sports Stadium.
Defending champions Dynamos face unpredictable Buffaloes at Sakubva and it will be a clash of new boys at Rimuka Stadium when Black Rhinos lock horns with Beitbridge based Tripple B.
Wednesday: Black Mambas v Shabanie Mine (Morris Depot), Highlanders v Chicken Inn (Barbourfields), Buffaloes v Dynamos (Sakubva), Black Rhinos v Tripple B (Rimuka), Caps United v Hwange (National Sports Stadium), Motor Action v FC Platinum (Motor Action)
Thursday: How Mine v Triangle (Luveve), Harare City v Monomotapa (Rufaro)