Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS coach Erol Akbay has refused to back down from the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship race despite heading into this weekend’s fixtures seven points behind the log leaders.
Akbay, who announced last Thursday that he will not be renewing his contract with Highlanders when it expires at the end of 2017, was given a mandate to win the championship in the second year of his stay at Bosso.
The Dutchman said he cannot promise to win the championship because in football you cannot guarantee anything but he can only go for something.
“There are 17 games to go now, from those 17 games if we have every luck then we can be champions, but if we don’t have luck then we won’t be champions. Every club in the top eight knows how close they are together, that means you have eight teams who are fighting for the championship.
Last year there were only four this year there are eight,’’ said Akbay.
Highlanders take on Harare City as they seek to keep up with the leading pack. Bosso recovered from a shock 2-1 loss to Bulawayo City at Barbourfields in a mid-week fixture to overcome Shabanie Mine 2-0 in Zvishavane last Sunday. The victory was sweet revenge for Bosso who had had been stunned 1-0 by the Chinda Boys at Emagumeni at the beginning of the season.
Since their entrance into the top flight league in 2012, Harare City have proved to be tricky opponents for Highlanders over the years. In 11 meetings between the two teams, there have been three wins for both sides and five draws. The latest stalemate was when they played to a 0-0 draw in the capital city in May.
Last season, Bosso and the Sunshine Boys drew 1-1 in Bulawayo before Highlanders triumphed 1-0 in Harare. This was Highlanders’ first ever victory over Harare City in the capital. This afternoon, Bosso, who have lost strikers Prince Dube and Rodreck Mutuma to other clubs have to do without Rahman Kutsanzira as well as Ralph Matema who are injured. Matema’s absence gives an opportunity to Ray Lunga to showcase his talent in front of the Bosso crowd at Barbourfields.
Ray, the son of former Bosso striker Gift Lunga (senior) was introduced as a substitute against Shabanie Mine last Sunday and indications are that he impressed on his debut. Besides Lunga, other players with a huge role to play this afternoon are Ariel Sibanda, Peter Muduhwa, Brian Banda, King Nadolo, Godfrey Makaruse and Erick Mudzingwa.