HIGHLANDERS coach Elroy Akbay says he will turn to his senior players in a bid to stabilise the team, which has struggled for consistency in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title race since losing the striking duo of Bruce Kangwa and Knox Mutizwa.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Kangwa and Mutizwa left Highlanders to join Tanzania’s Azam FC and South Africa’s Bidvest Wits respectively in mid-season resulting in a dramatic loss of form by the Bulawayo giants, who went on to lose four times in six matches after the mid-season break.
And as he tries to come up with the right formula, Akbay believes throwing his young players into the deep end when the team is on a bad spell is not the solution.
“I can only play my young players when the team is playing very well and if the team is not playing well the fans will put too much pressure on the youngsters. You have to be very careful with these youngsters and that’s why I believe we have to go back to the basics and use the senior players. When the team begins to play well we will revert to the youngsters,” Akbay said.
The Dutchman’s comment means he would be banking on the likes of Gabriel Nyoni, Rahman Kutsanzira, Simon Munawa and new recruit Allen Gahadzikwa to carry his team through the bad run of form starting with today’s home clash against How Mine at Barbourfields.
The experienced duo of goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda and veteran striker Ralph Matema are however, expected to miss this afternoon’s clash due to injuries while mid-season acquisition Nhlanhla Ndlovu among other young players could be rested.
Akbay, whose team is currently on a six-match winless streak dating back to the 1-0 win over CAPS United on July 17 said he was desperate for his charges to finally register a win.
“I don’t care how we play now, all I want is a win. What it means is good play can come later, but let’s win first,” he said.
Highlanders are on 32 points with 10 matches to the end of the season, while How Mine are on 28 points and have gone seven matches without defeat.
The gold miners coach Kelvin Kaindu says it will be important for his team to collect maximum points.
“It is just like any other game for us although we are playing one of the teams among the giants in Zimbabwean football. The competition as we play the last games of the league has become good. One win makes a difference and you can go two places up and it makes it a bit tricky when you lose. It is quite crucial that we collect maximum points,” Kaindu said.
The former Highlanders and Triangle coach will miss the services of suspended striker Kudakwashe Musharu, whom he has been using as an impact player coming in from the bench.