BLACK Mambas coach John Toto Ncube has promised to give Highlanders a hard time when the two sides clash in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Morris Depot Stadium in Harare this afternoon.
Highlanders have a chance of closing the gap to one point after log leaders Harare City were held to a goalless draw by Tripple B at Dulibadzimu Stadium in Beitbridge yesterday.
Harare City have 38 points from 19 games while Highlanders have 34 from 18 games.
Mambas are buoyant after beating title-chasing Chicken Inn 3-2 in their last league game, while Highlanders registered a 1-0 victory over Hwange at Barbourfields Stadium last month.
Ncube yesterday told Southern Eye Sport that they were fully prepared to host Highlanders.
“We have been preparing well and we are ready for the match against Highlanders. They are a big team and they have equally good players, but we will be equal on the field of play. We have to take advantage that we are playing at home and get a good result.
“We beat Chicken Inn 3-2 in our last league game, so we would want to continue from there. The break has affected teams in terms of rhythm, but we used it to play two friendly matches. Highlanders should not expect to get the results on a silver platter. It will be a very tough match,” he said.
Black Mambas acquired the services of veteran striker Evans Gwekwerere from Botswana’s be Mobile league side Township Rollers and Joseph Mutambiranwa from Caps United during the mid-season transfer window period.
Ncube said they were hoping that the former Dynamos and Caps United man, Gwekwerere, would prove that he is still a good player.
However, Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu yesterday said they were geared up for the match.
“Morale is high in camp, but we are not looking at the Harare City match. We just want to focus on our own match. It is always difficult to say if we will be able to collect maximum points. We want to play first and then talk about points after.
“We are in a better position in the log standings, but for now the position does not matter much because you find that a team that is on top can lose to a team that is at the bottom. I cannot comment on whether the break has affected us or not,” the Zambian gaffer said.
Kaindu said midfielder Hillary Madzivanyika did not travel to Harare because of an ankle injury while captain Innocent Mapuranga travelled with the team, but was due to undergo a late fitness test. He is facing a similar problem.
Highlanders will be hoping that mid-season acquisitions Gabriel Nyoni, Tinashe Chipunza and Master Masitara will change the fortunes for them as the battle for supremacy is set to intensify in the second round of the league.