EMBATTLED Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu is still putting on a brave face saying he can handle the pressure ahead of Bulawayo giants’ title-deciding Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against cheeky
ZPC Kariba at Hartsfield Rugby Grounds on Sunday.
It’s a do-or-die mission for the Zambian gaffer who has been under the spotlight from his employers and the multitude of Bosso fans aching for this year’s league title.
Highlanders lost 0-1 to Harare City last weekend at Rufaro Stadium and Kaindu has been told to sort out issues that could be affecting his bench and the players.
Sunday’s match will be played after he reports back to the executive committee at a special meeting that has been pencilled for today.
After last Saturday’s loss to Harare City, Bosso dropped to position three on the table, four points behind log leaders Dynamos who host relegation-threatened Shabanie at Rufaro on Sunday. DeMbare are on 43 points.
Kaindu yesterday said no team has been declared winners of the league yet, but he has much respect for ZPC Kariba, who are on the second spot with 39 points.
“I think in terms of preparation we are okay. All the players that have been injured and those who have been suspended are available for selection. ZPC have been in good form and consistent since their inception into the league this year. They have been doing quite well,” he said.
“But I am not under pressure at all. I have been trained to handle pressure that is why I have been doing these high-profile courses. Where we are now, there is no team that has been declared winners. The race is on and it’s still game on.”
There have been reports of a rift in the technical team between Kaindu, his assistant Mark Mathe, goalkeepers’ coach Peter Nkomo and welfare manager Willard Khumalo.
Even before today’s meeting, Khumalo seems to be heading for the exit as he will be assigned to a new role at the club with another former player set to be named the new manager.
There are indications though that motivator-par-excellence and former club manager and chairman Ernest Mapepa Sibanda, could be asked to fill in that role for the last seven games of the season.
Highlanders fans have been angry in the past few weeks after the loss to Dynamos in Harare in the TM Challenge Cup, but were pacified by seeing their team reach the last four of the Chibuku Super Cup when they thumped How Mine.
They were again jolted back to reality by Harare City last Saturday and do not know what to expect against the high-riding electricity men.
Last Saturday, Kaindu had to make-do with midfielder Welcome Ndiweni on the right-back as Webster Chingodza was out injured and Dumisani Ndlovu was on suspension. Former captain Innocent Mapuranga returned to action in the centre with Erick Mudzingwa.
Striker Njabulo Ncube’s suspension by the club ended last Friday and chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede confirmed that he had been training with the team, but Kaindu would not comment on the availability of the player.
Charles Sibanda, Felix Chindungwe, Pasca Manhanga, Gabriel Nyoni, Simba Sithole and Tapiwa Dephistara are available for Sunday’s match.
From this lot, it is Chindungwe, who has exhibited hunger for success of late and could come in hand while Sithole is yet to get a starting place.
The power utility side’s coach Saul Chaminuka, who has maintained that he has been fighting relegation, brings to Bulawayo a squad of “war veterans” that include Elvis Meleka, Pride Tafirenyika, Dennis Daudi, Artwell Nyamiwa, Pardon Chinungwa, Limited Chikafa and Moses Makanje.
Last Saturday, ZPC Kariba beat Black Rhinos 2-1 at Gwanzura Stadium to move into second position.