Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS coach Mandla Mpofu says they face fierce rivals Dynamos as underdogs highly motivated against the title race pacesetters who are unbeaten in nine Premiership games.
The ultimate match in the Zimbabwean Premiership calendar is set for tomorrow at Barbourfields Stadium, with the two sides hard-pressed to appease their demanding fans.
Dynamos top the table with 30 points from 14 games, but still, a section of their fans are unhappy with the football their side is displaying, while grinding results, accusing coach Tonderai Ndiraya of playing boring football.
Surprisingly, with his boring football, Ndiraya has managed seven wins in their last nine games, drawing twice as they collected 23 points out of a possible 27 since their last defeat to second-placed Chicken Inn on February 27.
The Gamecocks won the match 1-0 in Harare.
Ironically, Highlanders’ last defeat was on February 27, going down 1-0 to bottom placed Bulawayo City.
In their nine-match unbeaten run, Bosso have two wins and seven draws, including the abandoned 1-1 FC Platinum match, which will be decided by the PSL disciplinary committee.
It is against this background that Mpofu says his charges are underdogs.
“On statistics, I think we’re underdogs, that’s the truth, we’re underdogs.
Every time we meet Dynamos, history doesn’t matter, the most important thing is that the team that will work hard will get three points.
“The team that will make mistakes will be punished. So, my preparation is to make sure that we go into that game 100 percent fit, physically and mentally.
But it’s important for us as Highlanders to make sure that we get those three points.
Those are precious points that can turnaround our fortunes,” said Mpofu.
The tide has turned, with Highlanders dominating Dynamos, who are winless against Bosso for six-years.
With Bosso needing a quick fix to placate fans calling for the ouster of coach Mpofu, while Dynamos’ ultimate goal is to win the championship, the match promises to be a thriller.
Highlanders, who beat Dynamos 1-0 in the Independence Cup final, are fired up for the game.
“Dynamos is not an easy game. We’re motivated when playing Dynamos.
These are the exciting games as I always tell the players that if you don’t play Dynamos, which matches are you going to play.
We’re all motivated, this is a big game, this is the time to show that we can meet the big boys and win.
“So, it’s very important, whether we’re not playing well, whether we’ve got injuries, or players on suspension, problems within the club or we didn’t train yesterday, when we meet Dynamos, we have to win.
People want us to win, so on Sunday we’ll give our best,” said Mpofu.
It will not be an easy walk in the park for either side, with Dynamos’ strength clearly at the back, evidenced by being the team that has conceded the least number of goals, six in 14 outings.
They will pin their hopes on goalkeeper Taimon Mvula, with Frank Mukarati being the rock of defence either partnered by captain Partson Jaure or Sylvester Appiah.
They also have Emmanuel Jalai, Brendon Mpofu and Godknows Murwira, who can play as wingbacks.
But the real battle will be in the midfield where Highlanders, already crippled by the suspension of Adrian Silla, who has been a vital cog, will bank on Nqobizitha Masuku, Divine Mhindirira and either Rahman Kutsanzira or Darlington Mukuli to fill Silla’s gap.
Unlike Highlanders who are known for their passing game, Dynamos wait for openings and have been playing direct football where they knock the ball around, spread to the wing to speedy youngster Bill Antonio, who dribbles and sends in crosses into the box.
They might change their style since they now have King Nadolo, who is a ball player in midfield.
Shadreck Nyahwa, Ralph Kawondera and Keiith Murera are some players that might start for DeMbare in midfield, while Tinashe Makanda, Ghanaian Emmanuel Paga, Nigerian Alex Orotomal and Evans Katema compete for starting places upfront.
Peter Muduhwa and Andrew Tandi are sure starters for Highlanders in central defence with Mbongeni Ndlovu and Andrew Mbeba as wingbacks.
Of late, Highlanders have preferred to start with two strikers, Stanley Ngala and Lynoth Chikuhwa, with Washington Navaya being introduced late.
Article Source: The Chronicle