AN exciting tie is beckoning at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo this afternoon when giant killers How Mine lock horns with title-chasing Harare City in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) match.
Harare City will be eager to win today’s match so as to pile pressure on log leaders Highlanders, second-placed Dynamos and the Zvishavane side FC Platinum who are third.
Dynamos, FC Platinum and Harare City will be battling for supremacy in todays’ matches as they are tied on 42 points from 24 games each while Highlanders will hope for a win today against Black Rhinos at Rimuka Stadium in Kadoma for them stay on top of the log table.
After losing three points in a 0-3 drubbing at the hands of Black Rhinos in their last home match, How Mine will be seeking to avoid another home defeat.
How Mine assistant coach Simba Rusike yesterday told Southern Eye Sport that they would be aiming for maximum points in today’s match.
“We need to pick up points because we want to finish the league in a respectable position,” he said.
“So we are going all out for a win against Harare City. We have a full strength side.”
Harare City coach Bigboy Mawiwi said they were ready for what they expect to be a tough contest.
“The match against How Mine is going to be very interesting and we expect a tough game,” he said.
“How Mine have experienced players and a very tactful coach. They are also a well-organised team.
The match can go either way, chances are 50-50.
“We have not been doing well in the second round of the league. So we are going into tomorrow’s (today’s) match cautiously.
“The league race is still wide open and any of the top six teams could win the championship.”
Veteran players Hebert Dick, Menard Mupera, Gilbert Banda will be expected to carry the day for the Metallon Gold-sponsored side alongside Warren Dube, Timothy January and the experienced goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura.
Harare City have in their books Osborne Mukuradare, William Manondo, Martin Vengesai, Silas Songani and James Jam. Phineas Bhamusi will miss today’s match through injury.
Meanwhile, Black Rhinos assistant coach Ndega Matsika said his side would bank on their home record when they take on Highlanders at Rimuka Stadium today.
“It is always very difficult to play a team that is gunning for the championship while you are fighting relegation,” he said.
“I believe there is everything to play for. We respect Highlanders because they beat us 3-1 at
Barbourfields, but we would want to get a positive result this time.
“We are expecting to maintain our record at Rimuka because we have not lost or conceded there.
“We have enough depth in the squad and everyone is geared up for the match.
“We expect Phillip Marufu and Gilbert Mushangazhike to carry the day for us.
“Marufu had a good game against Buffaloes and he is becoming the real Marufu we know.”
Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu said their main aim was to maintain top position on the log.
“We have heard people say that the ground is not very good, but we will be playing on the same field. However, psychologically we are ready,” he said.
“We thank God that we are on top of the log table. Competition is tight in the top six and the championship could go to anyone and it is our desire to be on top and to maintain our position,” he said.
In-form Bosso striker Gabriel Nyoni who missed Wednesday’s match against Tripple B due to injury and midfielder Mthulisi Maphosa are doubtful for today’s match.
“He trained a bit, but is still feeling pain we do not want to risk him considering the nature of the ground. (Mthulisi) Maphosa will have to pass a late fitness test,” the Zambian national said.
Black Rhinos will be fighting hard for maximum points as they are looking forward to being in the PSL next season.
They bounced back this season and will not be willing to go back to the lowly Division One League.
Highlanders on the other end, last won the league in 2006 and would want to return to their championship status.