HIGHLANDERS head coach Bongani Mafu has promised to field his strongest squad when the Bulawayo giants take on How Mine in a Zimbabwe National Army Charities Commander’s Shield semi – final encounter set for Barbourfields Stadium this Sunday.
Dynamos, fresh from lifting the Bob 91 Super Cup after beating Caps United 1-0 at Rufaro on Sunday, meet their city rivals once again at the same venue on Sunday in another semi-final.
Spokesperson of the tournament, Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore yesterday confirmed this year’s competition.
“The games are on at the weekend. We have been cleared by Zifa and the Premier Soccer League and we are just waiting for the guys here in Harare for the launch,” Makotore said.
The competition comes just a week before the 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season kicks off but Mafu said he will not rest any of his players in anticipation of the start of the league programme where they clash with ZPC Kariba away.
“We cannot create a competitive atmosphere at training so we embrace this opportunity to play in such cup competitions.
“The main thing is the league and such games help us prepare for the championship race so we will not only play but we will field our strongest possible team,” Mafu said.
While Mafu was relishing one last opportunity to test his troops before the start of the league programme, his How Mine counterpart Luke Masomere expressed his unawareness of the weekend tie.
“I cannot comment on that as I am yet to be officially informed of the said match and it is something that I have come across on the internet.
“All I can tell you at the moment is that we are preparing well for the forthcoming season though we have had challenges due to injuries and as a result we have had to defer playing friendly matches,” Masomere said.
In the last two days, Masomere seemed to unaware of what was happening in Zimbabwean football. First, on Monday, he said he was not aware when the league was starting when the new dates were announced on Saturday at the AGM attended by his club bosses.
He went to blame injuries to his players on the media!
Yesterday, he seemed not to be aware of the Sunday match.
The former Shabanie Mine and Buffaloes coach recently revealed that his camp resembles a hospital casualty ward with veteran forward Limited Chikaka suffering from a dislocated his right jaw while the quartet of Tawanda Muparati, Benard Donovan, Nyasha Mukumbi, Charles Sibanda all have knee injuries and Benjamin Marere has a knee injury and a pulled muscle.
Also on the injury list is Morris Kadzola and Menard Mupera who have ankle injuries while Devon Chafa is nursing a shoulder injury.
Last season Highlanders lost 3-2 to FC Platinum at the semi – final stage with the platinum miners going all the way to lift the trophy after thrashing Caps United 6-0 in the final.
FC Platinum will however, not defend their title as they have been excused by the organisers because of their busy schedule as they are taking part in the Caf Confederation Cup tournament.
The winner of the Highlanders, How Mine clash will face the winner of the other semi-final that will pit Harare rivals Dynamos and Caps United at a date to be announced.