HARARE – Although they are out of the Castle Lager Premiership title race, Highlanders coach Erol Akbay says his side will not had FC Platinum any favours this Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium.
Under normal circumstances, this fixture would have been a top of the table clash but Highlanders are now only playing for pride.
The Bulawayo giants go into the match in eighth place on the log some 19 points behind leaders Dynamos with only seven games to go before the season ends.
On the other hand, FC Platinum are desperate for the three points as they are in third place on the log and trail the Glamour Boys by three points.
Having picked up their first win inside eight matches when they beat Chicken Inn 4-0 at the start of this month, Bosso now want to finish the season strongly.
It is against this background that Akbay warned Norman Mapeza’s side to brace for one of their toughest afternoons this season when they run into Barbourfields on Sunday.
“We are out of the title race but never underestimate Highlanders,” Akbay told the Daily News.
“We want a strong finish and that means we need to win all our remaining matches including the one against FC Platinum.
“I don’t know where we will finish but we have to give absolutely everything in every game. Chicken Inn were also thinking of an easy match against us but we hammered them. So, FC Platinum must expect a tough match because we are going to give everything.”
The Bulawayo giants have not had it easy this time around and are set to finish the season empty-handed after they were also knocked out of the Chibuku Super Cup following a 2-1 defeat to Harare City in the first round of the country’s richest knockout tournament.
“Our season has been characterised by blunt a strike force. You find we have been playing some good football but our finishing is letting us down big time,” Akbay said.
“If we have been as clinical as we did when we played against Chicken Inn, we should be talking a different story today.
“But such is football; I hope the boys will be able to maintain that level they exhibited against Chicken Inn.”
The Bosso coach also lauded last weekend’s break which paved way for the Chibuku Super Cup quarter-finals saying it enabled some of his players who were injured to fully recover ahead of their tie against FC Platinum.
Erick Mudzingwa and Rahman Kutsanzira resumed full training this week while midfielder King Nadolo has also started light training.
As for FC Platinum, they cannot afford to drop any more points at this crucial juncture in the title race having been held to disappointing draws in their last two matches.
Mapeza’s charges first fired blanks in the goalless draw away to relegation-threatened Yadah FC at Rufaro Stadium last month.
Pure Platinum Play were on their way to a 1-0 win at Mandava Stadium but allowed Goodwin Goriyati to score a stoppage time equaliser for CAPS United at the start of the month.
If they had won these two matches, FC Platinum would have been level on points with Dynamos or even top of the log.
Tomorrow: Shabanie Mine v Chicken Inn (Maglas, SS)
Saturday: Bulawayo City v Ngezi Platinum (Barbourfields, SS), Tsholotsho v Chapungu (Dulivhadzimo), ZPC Kariba v Dynamos (Nyamhunga), Yadah v Black Rhinos (National Sports), Harare City v Bantu Rovers (Rufaro), How Mine v Hwange (Luveve)
Sunday: CAPS United v Triangle United (National Sports), Highlanders v FC Platinum (Barbourfields, SS).