HIGHLANDERS leading goalscorer Charles Sibanda was dropped from the team that will face Hwange in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at the Colliery this afternoon following his behaviour last Sunday.
Sibanda caused unrest during their league match against Chicken Inn at Hartsfield Rugby Grounds after he was substituted in the 53rd minute and instead of heading back to the bench, he went to the dressing rooms, changed and went to sit in the terraces.
Angry fans wanted to assault him, but he was rescued by police who escorted him back to the bench.
Highlanders are crippled by injuries as they seek to avoid a fifth defeat on the trot with Simba Sithole, Njabulo Ncube, Gabriel Nyoni, Eric Mudzingwa, Joel Ngodzo and Webster Chingodza out.
Sibanda is reported to have apologised to the club on Monday, but the club is pressing ahead with disciplinary action as they bid to stem bad behaviour that has impacted on the results and the brand of the country’s second most successful club.
Ngodzo was arrested for disorderly conduct, but was released after he paid an admission of guilt fine.
The club’s boss Peter Dube said they were not aware of Ngodzo’s problems.
“I would rather you speak to (chief executive officer Ndumiso) Gumede,” he said. “We are aware of what Charles did because it was there for all to see. About Joel we are not aware of what he did. Unless someone comes and gives us the full information, we cannot act on that.”
Gumede said: “We have not spoken about the issue. I can confirm that they are both not here (Sibanda and Ngodzo). However, he (Charles) wrote a very long letter apologising for his behaviour on Sunday.
“I got the letter today (yesterday), but we are still to discuss. Since we did not manage to talk about it yesterday (Monday night), it could be on the agenda next week.”
Despite all the problems at the club, Bosso interim coach Mark Mathe chose to focus on today’s match.
“I do not want to play into the opponents hands,” he said. “I cannot say who we have, but we picked a team that is competitive or that want to do their duty.
“Unfortunately, Simba, Gabriel and Eric are still out injured,” he said.
Since taking over the hot sit from Kelvin Kaindu (now Triangle technical advisor), Mathe has had pressure to get the points with his team having won only two matches in the second half of the season.
“We respect Hwange,” he said.
“They are a very organised side. They picked up a crucial point last weekend (against Black Rhinos 1-1) and we are expecting a tough match against them. They should not look at us and under estimate us because of the rough patch that we have been going through. We have a lot of respect for them.”
Mathe’s charges would need serious motivation as they have lost four games in a row and collected just nine points out of a possible 33 points. Mathematically, they need three points to “survive relegation”, if they rest of the teams — save for Chiredzi and Bantu Rovers — continue winning.
Bruce Kangwa captained the side during the Chicken Inn match while Munyaradzi Diya was brought in ahead of Ariel Sibanda.
Kangwa was also thrust for the second time in the left link role with the hope that his speed could help in the creation of the much-needed goals.
Pasca Manhanga, who shed tears after their loss to Chicken Inn, could be in the team with Welcome Ndiweni, Simon Munawa, Felix Chindungwe, defenders Innocent Mapuranga and Dumisani Ndlovu.
Their hopes of turning around their fortunes could be dashed by the Hwange stalwarts Gerald Ndlovu, David Boriwondo, Gilbert Zulu, Rodwell Chinyengetere and Evans Rusike.
Hwange coach Nation Dube said they were facing a dangerous team because they would want to end their winless streak.