DESPITING enjoying success over How Mine so far this season, Highlanders coach Erol Akbay still expects a tough match when the two sides clash in a Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final match at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday. BY FORTUNE MBELE
Bosso were booted out of last year’s edition of the tournament by the same team and this was before Akbay’s arrival.
So far this season Highlanders have recorded success against How Mine on three occasions having completed a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League double over the gold miners.
Bosso also overcame Kelvin Kaindu’s side in a tournament organised to mark the club’s 90th anniversary just before the league commenced.
Akbay is not reading too much into his team’s dominance over their rivals so far this year and is expecting How Mine to come out fighting hard for a ticket to the semi-finals.
“How Mine are not a small team. They are a big side which is quite difficult to beat. We have beaten them two times (in the league) this year, but it was not an easy task in both matches,”Akbay said. “I can assure you it is going to be a very tough game.”
The Dutch coach wants to avoid the penalty lottery at all costs.
“We just have to make sure that we don’t go to the penalties. We have to win that match in regulation time. I hope the fans come in full force to support us. It is exciting when you play in front of a big crowd and it inspires us.”
How Mine beat Dynamos 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out in the first round after a 0-0 stalemate in regulation time at Rufaro Stadium on September 18.
Having been knocked out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage last season, How Mine will be looking to improve on that.
They are out of the league title race and the Chibuku Super Cup tournament is their sole hope for silverware, while Bosso are in the running for both.
For Sunday’s match, Bosso have been boosted by the recovery of penalty specialist, goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who pulled out of their league match against Ngezi Platinum on Sunday with a swollen eye.
Highlanders will be banking on the experience of forward Ralph Matema, who has a reputation for coming in with a positive influence as a substitute.
Of late, How Mine’s form has been poor, winning just two of their last six matches, but they also have a lot of experience in their ranks with potential match winners Kuda Musharu, Godfrey Nguwodzawo and Pasca Manhanga all available.