By Paul Mundandi in Zvishavane
HARARE City Coach Bigboy Mawiwi has stoked flames ahead of their Mbada Diamonds Cup clash against Highlanders at Mandava Stadium on Saturday in the small but rich mining town of Zvishavane.
“I don’t fear Highlanders at all and we are approaching our match very positively. I know they are also confident that they are going to win the match but what we are saying is that we need to finish the season on a good note and we have to fight to be in the final.
“We respect them yes, and I know they beat us 2-0 in our second match of the season at Barbourfields but Saturday’s game is a different ball game. As Harare City we are gunning for a double this season”, said the soft-spoken coach who has transformed the Sunshine Boys to championship material in their second season in the Premiership.
The match pitting Harare City and Highlanders can be a dress rehearsal of their league clash in Harare on Week 29 of the championship race. A win by any of the two teams will be a psychological boost ahead of their league clash.
Mawiwi a former Dynamos assistant coach in 2004 when Luke Masomere was in charge of the defending champions, is also banking on the support of his former team’s fans.
“I know fans will be rallying behind the better team and we are working very hard to be the better side on Saturday. I love people in Zvishavane because they are level headed and I am also pretty sure that Dynamos fans are going to rally behind us,“ he said.
Mawiwi might also rely on his experience after guiding Lengthens to the final on the BancABC Sup8r Cup in 2008 which he eventually lost to Caps United. He has also been in charge of Gunners, Circle United and Eagles and he has vast experience which could give him an edge over Kelvin Kaindu and Bekithemba Ndlovu.
He will however, be affected by the absence of tough tackling defender Witness Nyamutsakwa who was stretchered off the field last Saturday when they clashed with Black Rhinos. Dickson Crispen, James Jam are also on the causality list and yesterday he was hoping that six other players who suffered knocks will have recovered by Saturday.
Mawiwi however, refused to single any player from his team who could be the trump card for the Sunshine City Boys
“We play as a team at Harare City and I will not pick any individual,“ he said.
Nathan Ziwini has however been instrumental as he was voted man-of-the match in Beitbridge after tearing Hwange defence apart with his fancy footwork.
Highlanders on the other hand have been disappointing their multitude of followers after failing to lift the league last year. This year they were given an early exit in the BancABC Cup first round match played at Mucheke by FC Platinum.
Last week they suffered another defeat at home at the hands of defending champions Dynamos and for them to clinch a double they have to beat Harare City and make sure they collect maximum points against Triangle (home), Harare City (away) and Shabanie Mine (home).
The side boasts on fire Gabriel Nyoni, Beaven Chikaka, Njabulo Ncube, Innocent Mapuranga, Milton Ncube, Eric Mudzingwa and Masimba Mambare to guide them to the Promised Land. The Bulawayo giants will also hope that Master Masitara will continue scoring after giving Bosso the lead last Sunday at Rufaro Stadium.
Njabulo Ncube is available for the game as he is eligible to play in the cup despite serving a two-match ban for the red card against Dynamos.
Harare City will be looking at captain Godfrey Nguwodzawo to steer the ship. Former Dynamos striker Martin Vengesayi will be expected to keep the Bosso defenders on their toes.
Silas Songani, Crybert Muvuti, Munyaradzi Nyenye and goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupanedengu are some of the key players in the Harare side’s arsenal.
How Mine are hopeful they will reach their first cup final when they take on Caps United in Harare on Sunday in the other semi-final. On their way to the semi-finals, How Mine knocked out Dynamos with a 1-0 win at Rufaro Stadium and they still have fond memories of their last cup visit to the capital. The gold miners had beaten Black Rhinos by an identical score line in the first round that was played at Barbourfields Stadium with Timothy January scoring the solitary goal.
Philani “Beefy” Ncube, the How Mine’s coach yesterday said they go into Sunday’s game hopeful of upsetting Caps United.
He praised his charges for managing to book a place in the last four which has $45 000 prizemoney guaranteed.
“When the tournament started no one gave us a chance but look where we are. We have worked hard to be where we are and that unity of purpose has been the driving force. The players work for each other on the field and I am happy that we have managed to outdo ourselves by reaching this stage.
“Since this is our first season in the Premiership, it has taken off some pressure from the guys. Caps United have been in the league for a long time and we respect that but we go into the Sunday game to compete and not just to make up numbers,” said Ncube.
Starting from the back, How Mine have quality players in the form of former national team goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura who went with the Warriors for the 2004 Afcon finals in Tunisia. They also have the experienced central defence partnership of tough-as-teak Hebert Dick and Gilbert Banda.
Dick has, like wine, matured with age as he has managed to lead from the back, commanding his defence well.
Former Caps United captain Nyasha Mukumbi is likely to face his former paymasters after joining the gold miners during the mid-season transfer window and has settled well providing good cover in defence.
Mbada Diamonds Cup Fixtures
Saturday: Harare City v Highlanders (Mandava)
Sunday: Caps United v How Mine (National Sports Stadium)