HIGHLANDERS head coach Erol Akbay has discouraged his charges from dwelling on their past success at Mandava stadaium as Bosso take on FC Platinum in an important Castle Lager Premier Soccer League tie in their own backyard tomorrow afternoon. BY FORTUNE MBELE
While the Bulawayo giants have a big job against Norman Mapeza’s side, both teams will be playing with their ears in the ground hoping for a Caps United loss in their match against Ngezi Platinum at the National Sports Stadium.
Caps United are firm favourites to win the league title as they go into the penultimate match of the season with a two point advantage over second placed FC Platinum while they are four points better than Highlanders in third.
The only way Highlanders can win the league title is by them winning both their remaining matches, coupled with Caps United picking just one point from their last two.
A win for Highlanders tomorrow could benefit Caps, who would win the championship if they were to also win against Ngezi Platinum.
FC Platinum on the other hand can boost their chances with a win tomorrow and they will also be hoping that Caps United drop points.
It’s a thrilling climax to a season that has provided enthralling entertainment with the top spot being swapped at regular intervals throughout the year.
Tomorrow afternoon Highlanders have a fixture that has always favoured them.
In their five league outings at Mandava, Highlanders lost only once in 2011 when Rahman Gumbo was in charge of the platinum miners.
They have managed two wins at the same venue, while they played out the same number of draws.
Akbay, however, is not reading too much into that historical dominance and knows that they face a side, like them, desperate and hungry for maximum points.
“I don’t read into history, every game is different but we have to beat them (FC Platinum) on Sunday, but I know it will not be easy,” he said.
“It’s a tricky weekend for all the three top clubs. If we win and Caps win, they have won it but if they lose then we are still in. If Caps lose and we lose also then FC Platinum have an advantage. But as Highlanders we just have to focus on beating FC Platinum.”
Highlanders slipped in their last encounter with 1-2 home defeat to relegation-fighting Tsholotsho who continue their fight against the drop this afternoon when they host Bulawayo City at Luveve.
Mapeza had also lost the favour of the FC Platinum followers with a 1-2 loss to Harare City at Rufaro and a 1-1 draw to Ngezi Platinum at home, but bounced back after dismissing Chapungu at Ascot on a day that
Highlanders lost to Tsholotsho at BF. The 2008 championship winning coach with Monomotapa is eyeing his second league title, a first for FC Platinum since to the joined the top league in 2011.