INJURY-HIT Bulawayo giants Highlanders are confident of bagging the Uhuru Cup this year as they take on FC Platinum in the semi-final of the competition at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The 2016 Uhuru Cup losing finalists are without four key players — Rahman Kutsanzira, Bukhosi Ncube, Gabriel Nyoni and King Nadolo — due to injury.
However, coach Erol Akbay is confident that Highlanders will rise from the home loss to Shabanie in the league last week and beat FC Platinum and progress to the final, which will be played on Tuesday.
“It’s the second time to play against FC Platinum this year. We are ready for them. We have to win the game against Platinum and I hope this year we win the [Uhuru] Cup,” Akbay said.
Midfielder Kutsanzira is yet to test football action after he sustained an injury to his big toe in pre-season, while young defender Ncube also picked up an injury at training after the first league game against Bulawayo City.
Nyoni was injured during the City match, while Nadolo, who sat on the bench against Shabanie Mine last Sunday, has also been ruled out of today’s tie.
Highlanders lost 2-1 to Chicken Inn in the final last year at the National Sports Stadium after having beaten FC Platinum in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final.
Focus will be on Roderick Mutuma, who is yet to register his name on the score sheet in the first two league games, with his celebrations cut short in both the Bulawayo City and Shabanie Mine matches as he was ruled offside.
But the former Dynamos striker was influential in the demolition of FC Platinum at Luveve last month when Highlanders beat the Zvishavane-based side 3-0 in the semi-final of the Zimbabwe National Army Charity Shield at Luveve Stadium.
Mutuma provided two assists in that match, with goals coming from a Prince Dube brace and another goal by Simon Munawa.
FC Platinum, with coach Norman Mapeza, go to Barbourfields today with that defeat at Luveve still fresh in their minds.
Led by captain and goalkeeper Petros Mhari, the platinum miners have in their squad the likes of Charles Sibanda, Winstone Mhango, Gift Mbweti and the young Brett Amidu as they seek revenge for the charity match loss and last year’s defeat in the semi-final of the Independence Cup at the same venue.