HIGHLANDERS attacking left linkman Milton Ncube is back after sustaining a hip injury in the midweek clash against city neighbours Chicken Inn and is up for selection to the starting line-up that faces in-form new boys ZPC Kariba in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL)match at Gwanzura Stadium today.
Ncube was pulled off and replaced by Joel “Josta” Ngodzo in the 77th minute in the PSL match against Chicken Inn and missed the 4-0 routing of Caps United at Barbourfields Stadium last Sunday.
Coach Mark Mathe yesterday said the midfielder, used as a left-back by Warriors gaffer Ian Gorowa in the national team, had passed a late fitness test on Friday together with left-back Bruce Kangwa. The two had made it to the final 18 that travelled to the capital for the trail-blazing power utility outfit.
Rahman Kutsanzira, who scored against his former paymasters Caps United, failed the late fitness test after sustaining a groin injury last Sunday.
Midfielder Peter “Rio” Moyo will not be part of the team again, but Mathe said there was nothing amiss about his absence. The log leaders left yesterday morning for Harare.
“Milton is back, but Rahman (Kutsanzira) failed to make it and goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni has a toothache. Kangwa is part of the team. Rio is not part of the team, but it’s nothing unusual. Selection is based on the type, strategy and quality of game that we are playing and we have 29 players at our disposal. Nothing is amiss about Rio not being part of the team,” Mathe said.
Head coach Kelvin Kaindu was expected to jet into the county today and could be joining the rest of the team in Harare. Mathe yesterday said he held much respect for ZPC Kariba and was expecting a tough encounter.
“We need the three points more than anything else and our intentions and mission going into that game must be known that we want to maintain the consistency. We respect ZPC Kariba, coach (Saul) Chaminuka and his players. They have done well,” Mathe said.
Bosso will be banking on the return of Ncube, the nimble-footed Kudakwashe Mahachi and Ozias Zibande upfront and look forward to stopping troublesome ZPC Kariba, who like the Bulawayo giants have won three times, drawn thrice and are yet to lose a match going into round seven of the season.
The Bulawayo giants travelled with goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who started in the game against Caps United, Munyaradzi Diya, Erick Mudzingwa and Welcome Ndiweni. Chaminuka appeared to be taking it easy saying Highlanders were under pressure as they were aiming to lift the PSL title, which has narrowly eluded them in the last two seasons.
The former Buffaloes gaffer and Caps United assistant coach said his mission in ZPC Kariba’s first season in top-flight action was to survive relegation.
He says it’s still early days to start talking about who would win the championship this year as he gets into today’s match without captain Pride Tafirenyika and left-back Dexter Phiri due to suspension.
“We are ready for Highlanders. We are playing a good team and we will do our best. We are the underdogs in this game. We are going to throw everything at them because we need maximum points. Winning will give my players confidence because our target is finishing in the top eight. Avoiding relegation could also be done by winning the league. If you win the league you will not be relegated,” Chaminuka said.
He has seasoned players – Limited Chikafa, Caleb Masocha, Philip Makanje, Norman Togara, David Rediyoni and Tawanda Nyamandwe.
Meanwhile Hwange will entertain Bantu Rovers this afternoon at the Colliery.
Today: ZPC Kariba v Highlanders (Gwanzura),
Shabanie Mine v Dynamos (Maglas),
Buffaloes v FC Platinum (Sakubva),
Hwange v Bantu Rovers (Colliery)