Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
A STILL confident but underfire Highlanders coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu has declared war on Herentals ahead of their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow on a weekend which has been shrouded by stunning claims by Bulawayo City coach Philani “Beefy” Ncube who said 80 percent of PSL footballers are drug abusers.
Ncube even claimed that one Highlanders player (name now known) was under the influence of Broncleer when they played against the fading Bulawayo giants, a game that Amakhosi won 1-0.
The allegations by Ncube are obviously very damaging to Highlanders as an institution and the PSL as an organisation.
Ncube’s revelation is certainly the last thing that Mpofu wanted to hear at a time the team is struggling to win but instead he put up a brave face. Like his chairman, Johnfat Sibanda, Mpofu is convinced that they are still in the race for the league title.
He said tomorrow’s game was a must win encounter, declaring that if they still want to keep their championship hopes alive, they have to turn Barbourfields Stadium into a fortress.
“It’s now or never, if we can’t win our home games then we have got a challenge, we might as well forget about the championship.
There are no two ways about it, we need to start winning at home and make sure that when we go away we grind a result, making sure we don’t lose but at home a win is not negotiable, Barbourfields Stadium must be a fortress,” said Mpofu during a press conference on Thursday.
He said the technical team had a candid talk with the players to try and impress upon them that tomorrow’s game was a must-win encounter and that time was not on their side as they bid to turn around the fortunes and remain in contention for the championship.
“It’s a must win game if we are to keep our hopes alive. It’s a game that we spoke about with the boys during the course of the week that it’s now or never, we need to start winning games and we must start on Sunday. We need to pull up our socks, time is not on our side.
We are playing for the championship, this is a big institution, we want the championship, yes, its not easy to play a catch-up game but from this Sunday we need to start catching up with the rest of the big boys,” he said.
Highlanders welcome back left back Mbongeni Ndlovu who has been out of action for two weeks while attacking midfielder Ray Lunga is also on the road to full recovery although he is still undergoing none contact training.
Amahlolanyama face tricky opponents who are lying fifth on the standings with three wins, two draws, a single loss leaving them with 11 points while Bosso are in an unfamiliar 14th position with a single win, two draws and three losses, exactly the opposite of Herentals.
They are above the relegation bracket by virtue of a superior goal difference over Bulawayo City who have actually scored more goals than Highlanders.
If it was La Liga where they look at head to head to position teams instead of goal difference, City could be above Bosso.
Bosso’s defence though is only bettered by three teams in the league, their opponents tomorrow, Dynamos and log leaders Chicken Inn who have conceded just two and three goals respectively.
It’s a clear indicator that had their conversion rate been top notch, the script could be reading differently.
Article Source: The Chronicle