Depleted Highlanders face Whawha

Highlanders head coach Bongani Mafu
Bongani Mafu

HIGHLANDERS will be without eight of their key players when they face Whawha in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow afternoon.


Teenage Hadebe and Nqobizitha Masuku are with the Young Warriors, who play Swaziland tomorrow at Rufaro Stadium in the Under-23 African Championships first leg qualifier.

Captain Felix Chindungwe was handed a one-match ban after accumulating three yellow cards, while Douglas Sibanda is in South Africa with the Warriors squad that was humiliated 4-1 by Namibia on Thursday.

The side will also be without injured Gabriel Nyoni, Ozias Zibande and Takunda Mutanga while Eric Mudzingwa is still to be assessed.

Whawha have already slayed one giant, defending champions Dynamos and could be keeping their fingers crossed to add woes to Highlanders, who have been finding it tough to win at home.

Highlanders have won twice at home against Tsholotsho 1-0 and Hwange by the same scoreline and lost, again, by the same scoreline to Chapungu and Caps United before last weekend’s 2-1 defeat by Chicken Inn.

Coach Bongani Mafu said preparing for the encounter has been tough considering that most of their key players are not available for the match.

He said it is not healthy that most of their players were not available week in week out and that they would try and make use of the material they have.

“It is not a healthy scenario but it shows that when I say we have a good team I am not talking rubbish,” he said.

“Where we are at the moment with the team that we have we should be number two from the bottom, but we have managed to survive. Imagine the day when everybody is back. If we can withstand all these teams with half the guys that we think are our best players what will happen when everybody is in? Football is a cycle we are not going to be beaten all the time. We need to start getting results,” he said.

Highlanders are placed eighth on the log standings with 14 points from four wins and two draws while Whawha are second from bottom with two wins and two draws and a total of eight points.

“I appeal to the crowd to understand the boys on the pitch. All the boys on the pitch need 200% support, but the boys on the pitch need to support the crowd outside by giving them 200% effort. So it’s two ways. We need to give those people something to cheer about,” he said.

Mafu has come under fire for the team’s poor performance especially at home where they have managed seven points at home out of a possible 12.

Whawha have suffered their two worst defeats so far in the season when they lost 6-0 to How Mine and Triangle and are in need of points.

Lloyd Mutasa’s side has veterans Marlven Nyakabangwe and Caleb Masocha who will probably be their trump cards when they face Highlanders.