Highlanders coach, Erol Akbay wants his players to learn from their loss to Ngezi Platinum Stars in Chibuku Super Cup semi-final on Sunday, as they turn their focus to their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title race. BY FORTUNE MBELE
Bosso need to recover from the cup disappointment, with their next league match on this Saturday against Tsholotsho at Barbourfields Stadium, where a win will do them a world of good.
Despite the disappointment, Akbay yesterday said the defeat came at the right time, as his charges were becoming complacent.
“It’s one gone, but we still have another. Our dream is still on. We still have the championship and we can go for it. The race is still wide open for anyone to win it. It was good to lose because they (players) were beginning to think they could win all the time, but it came at a bad time for me, as a coach. We have to talk to the boys, as we focus on the next three games because we can’t afford to make the same mistake,” he said.
Before Sunday, the Bulawayo giants had put together nine straight wins, seven in the league and two in the Chibuku Super Cup tournament.
Ngezi Platinum Stars surprised Highlanders with an attacking brand of football, which pegged back Bosso.
On Friday, Akbay had predicted that Ngezi Platinum would play a defensive game in the hope of taking the contest to penalties, but the top-flight debutants’ coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, had other ideas.
James Nguluve and striker, Kevin Bulaji proved a handful for Highlanders, with dangerous forays.
Highlanders were not given much room to manouevre in midfield, particularly in the first half until Akbay moved pacey Rahman Kutsanzira into the centre, playing Allen Gahadzikwa wide and introducing King Nadolo for the injured Simon Munawa in the second half.
Prince Dube was out of form, while speedy Gabriel Nyoni was kept at bay by Byron Madzokere and Partson Jaure.
Akbay said the last three league matches against Tsholotsho, FC Platinum and Hwange should be treated like cup finals if Highlanders hope to emerge champions.
Highlanders are second with 53 points, a point behind Caps United, who are away to Harare City on the same day.
FC Platinum are third and have a tricky tie away to Chapungu, also on Saturday, but will be full of confidence following their 3-0 win over Harare City in the Chibuku Super Cup semi-final on Saturday.
Akbay wants his team to avoid the mistakes they made in the match against Ngezi Platinum.
“Everyone is more focused than ever before now and we have to focus on the last three games because if we lose now and the other teams win, our chances will become slim. There is no room for mistakes like we made yesterday (Sunday) and every game is now a cup final,” Akbay said.
Saturday: Harare City v Caps United (Rufaro), Ngezi Platinum v Hwange (Baobab), Chapungu v FC Platinum (Ascot), Highlanders v Tsholotsho (Barbourfields)
Sunday: Border Strikers v Triangle (Dulivhadzimu), Dynamos v Mutare City (Rufaro), How Mine v Chicken Inn (Luveve), Bulawayo City v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields)