TSHOLOTSHO Football Club coach Lizwe Sweswe believes mental strength will be crucial when his charges take on Bulawayo giants Highlanders in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) encounter at Barbourfields (BF) Stadium on Sunday.
Speaking after the PSL new boys’ training session at the match venue yesterday morning, Sweswe said they were working on their players’ psyche since most of them were new on the big stage.
“Highlanders are a big team and we have to work on the boys’ psychological strength so that they do not succumb to nerves,” he said.
“We expect many fans to show up and since most of these boys are not used to playing in front of big crowds it is important to drum it into their heads that football is the same no matter where you play.”
Tsholotsho began life in the top flight with a 1-0 win over Harare City with Simbarashe Gorogodyo on target while Highlanders started on a losing note going down 0-2 to ZPC Kariba.
Sweswe believes that their opponents will be hard pressed to come up with a good result against his charges to appease their hard to please fans.
“As PSL newcomers from a rural set-up not much is expected of us and that takes away a lot of pressure when playing against giants like Highlanders,” he said.
“Our mission is to stay in the PSL and expose our players, so the aim will be to avoid dropping points while on the other hand Highlanders will be under pressure to give their fans something to smile about after a poor start.”
Iziqholo ZeZhwane will welcome back holding midfielder Gerald Takwana who missed the first game of the season as he was on national duty with the Young Warriors.
Team captain Nkosilathi Moyo, who was withdrawn from the Harare City game after getting injured on the eve of the match and his deputy William Stima, who did not finish the match after coming down with cramp, are back to full fitness and available for selection.
Tsholotsho were seemingly affected by playing on an artificial turf at Rufaro Stadium and their return to natural grass at BF will be welcome.
Bosso gaffer Bongani Mafu said Tsholotsho cannot be taken for granted.
“They (Tsholotsho) are a very good side that we must approach with care. Tsholotsho must not be taken for granted. They are on cloud nine after beating Harare City and we lost our first game. Everyone accepted that and we have got to redress the situation and perform. We need to show what we have got, but it is going to be a tough match on Sunday,” Mafu said.
Bosso have Obadiah Tarumbwa, Thomas Chideu, Nqobizitha Masuku, Bruce Kangwa and Gabriel Nyoni to bank on to destroy Tsholotsho with captain Felix Chindungwe, Douglas Sibanda, Webster Chingodza and Honest Moyo at the back.
Either Erick Mudzingwa or Tendai Ngulube will play in front of the central defence.
Veteran midfielder Mthulisi Maphosa came in from the bench against ZPC Kariba, replacing Masuku a few minutes after the break.