By Grace Chingoma
HIGHLANDERS know that a fourth straight defeat, and a second league loss to CAPS United, will inflict serious damage on their Castle Lager Premiership challenge and face serious problems in their camp.
This statistical trend is disturbing for the team which went for 23 games without a defeat last season. Already, Highlanders have lost three games at Barbourfields. First, it was a defeat at the hands of the Harare side Motor Action who beat them 0-1 early into the season.
Then there other defeats in derby matches against How Mine (1-2) and Chicken Inn who beat them 1-0. On the road they haven’t performed badly in the first round, losing once to CAPS United whom they will meet again in the reverse tie at home on Sunday.
That 2-1 defeat, at the National Sports Stadium, is still fresh in the minds of Highlanders. Coach Kevin Kaindu believes they will get it right again. Yesterday, he was optimistic that their slide may end, starting this weekend.
“What is important is to believe in ourselves,” said the Zambian gaffer.
“We have so much respect for CAPS United. We failed to convert our chances in the first leg and they managed to score and were better than us. That game has gone and this is the second round and will be a different match. It is a fact that we have not won in our last three matches.
“At one stage we also went for three matches without a defeat.”
Kaindu is keeping his cool and says he is not having sleepless nights.
“It is always difficult for any team to be consistent throughout the year. Obviously, the players might be a bit low on confidence. But we have players that have character,” said Kaindu.
“As a coach you just need to be mentally strong and prepared for the next game. Football is always a pressure game whether you win or lose. But what is always important is how to handle the pressure,” said Kaindu.
Kaindu will be hoping that his charges will re-ignite the fire on Sunday. Defensively, Bosso have been found wanting as the captain Innocent Mapuranga has been finding it difficult to keep pace with speedy and younger strikers. His judgement has been questionable and his workrate is fading.
The dominant Mthulisi Maphosa and Peter “Rio” Moyo’s partnership in the middle of the park, which played a big role in the team’s good run last season, hasn’t fired on all angles. Masimba Mambare has been a pale shadow of the player who illuminated the stage last year.
Kaindu bemoaned failure to convert chances in the last two matches against CAPS United and the weekend’s BancABC Sup8r Cup defeat against FC Platinum at Mucheke. Former Railstars forward Njabulo Ncube is now leading the strike force at the club. The Herald
Friday: Chicken Inn v Shabanie Mine (Luveve).
Saturday: Black Mambas v Triangle (Morris Depot), How Mine v Dynamos (Luveve), Harare City v Hwange (Rufaro).
Sunday: Buffaloes v Tripple B (Sakubva), Black Rhinos v FC Platinum (Rimuka), Motor Action v Monomotapa (Motor Action Sports Club), Highlanders v CAPS United (Barbourfields).