HIGHLANDERS coach Kelvin Kaindu is hopeful that his side’s next five games in Bulawayo will revitalise his charges in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League race after a morale-sapping first loss of the season last weekend.
The former champions have gone for three matches without a win and lie in fourth place with 21 points, one behind leaders Hwange, second-placed How Mine and third-placed Dynamos, going into matchday 13.
Bosso have only picked up two points out of a possible nine in the last three matches having won their last match on May 25 when they beat Buffaloes 3-1 at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare and having two 1-1 draws against FC Platinum at home and Triangle United away at Gibbo Stadium in Chiredzi.
This Sunday, Highlanders will engage Black Rhinos at Barbourfields Stadium, then face bogey side How Mine and Bantu Rovers to complete the first half of the season. Two reverse matches against Bantu and How Mine will take them to Week 18 when they would finally leave the City of Kings to face Black Rhinos in Kadoma.
“It will give us an advantage playing in Bulawayo in the next five matches. We are definitely hoping that we will redeem ourselves after having gone for three matches without picking up maximum points,” Kaindu said.
Charles Sibanda has been the tonic to Highlanders’ performances in the last three matches, notching a brace with another effort from the 2010 soccer star of the year resulting in an own goal in the win against Buffaloes and scoring in both draws against Platinum and Triangle.
With the exit of Peter “Rio” Moyo (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Milton Ncube (Ajax Cape Town) and the imminent departure of Kudakwashe Mahachi (Mamelodi Sundowns) to South Africa, it’s time for Kaindu to start formulating new strategies for the title-chasing Bulawayo giants.
It’s yet to be seen if they will go into the market in the mid-season transfer window to replace players that are leaving – the latest to join the Great Trek to South Africa being left-back Khumbulani Banda, who has gone for trials with Maritzburg United.
In the 12 matches that Highlanders have played so far, they have won five – three at Barbourfields against Shabanie, Caps United and Harare City – and have played three draws at Emagumeni against Hwange (1-1), Chicken Inn (1-1), although they were away and another 1-1 stalemate against FC Platinum.
Three other draws have been played away to Chapungu (0-0) in the first match in Gweru, ZPC Kariba (1-1) at Gwanzura and 1-1 at Gibbo Stadium to Triangle.
Tomorrow: FC Platinum v Bantu Rovers (Mandava SS9 ), ZPC Kariba v Chiredzi (Gwanzura), Harare City v Shabanie Mine (Rufaro Stadium), Chicken Inn v Dynamos (Barbourfields Stadium)
Sunday: Triangle United v How Mine (Gibbo SS9 ), Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields), Buffaloes v Chapungu (Sakubva), Caps United v Hwange (NSS)