Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo

HIGH­LANDERS got a rude awak­en­ing when they stum­bled 0-1 to Ngezi Plat­inum Stars in the Chibuku Su­per Cup semi-final at Bar­bour­fields Sta­dium on Sun­day, leav­ing coach Erol Ak­bay dis­ap­pointed with his play­ers’ waste­ful­ness in front of goal. The Dutch­man was vis­i­bly frus­trated with his team’s fail­ure to con­vert a host of scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties they cre­ated. Hav­ing rid­den on the crest of a wave for a cou­ple of months that brought a sense of be­lief to Bosso sup­port­ers, Ngezi stunned them in front of their home sup­port­ers cour­tesy of a 62nd minute Lib­erty Chako­roma penalty af­ter de­fender Peter Muduhwa had han­dled in­side the box. Ak­bay chal­lenged his play­ers to lift their game, fail­ure of which could cost them cru­cial points in the league. For a team that started the sec­ond half of the sea­son badly by only man­ag­ing a point from a pos­si­ble 15, the High­landers coach is hope­ful the week­end’s de­feat won’t be a set­back in their ti­tle chase. Be­fore the Ngezi game, High­landers had gone on a nine-match win­ning streak in all com­pe­ti­tions. “It was a bad game on our side. Every­body wasn’t good enough to win us the game be­cause the play­ers were fail­ing to make those off the ball runs, forc­ing us to play the ball back to the keeper and restart the game. Now we’ve to fo­cus on the cham­pi­onship be­cause we were a lit­tle bit sur­prised to lose to Ngezi Plat­inum as we have been play­ing well,” said Ak­bay. “I guess now the play­ers know that if we don’t score we lose games and as a coach I don’t want to be los­ing games at this stage of the sea­son. At least at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son there is time to cor­rect the mis­takes, but now you can’t af­ford that,” Ak­bay said. He ad­mit­ted that the cham­pi­onship race will not be easy and ex­pects his play­ers to put in ex­tra ef­fort. “All our games are tricky and play­ing a team that is fight­ing for sur­vival is dif­fi­cult. We can’t un­der­rate them and I think the guys learnt a les­son against Ngezi Plat­inum. Ev­ery chance counts and we have to turn them in. I want ev­ery­one to work hard and make sure we end the sea­son on a high note. I’ll be happy if we win all our last three games,” said Ak­bay. How Bosso re­sponds against a Tsholot­sho FC side whose play­ers were on strike last week will be key ahead of the Week 29 clash against FC Plat­inum at Man­dava in Zvisha­vane. Tsholot­sho FC are sec­ond from the bot­tom of the league ta­ble with 23 points, two be­hind Mutare City Rovers who are a place above the rel­e­ga­tion zone. Ak­bay said he also ex­pects an im­proved per­for­mance from play­ers such as Muduhwa, who had a sub­dued game and made a cou­ple of mis­takes, one of which even­tu­ally cost the team, Gabriel Ny­oni, who missed clear cut chances, Si­mon Mu­nawa and Prince Dube. Mu­nawa played the game with a heav­ily ban­daged knee and maybe be­cause of fear of hurt­ing him­self, the mid­fielder failed to stamp his author­ity and was later pulled out. His re­place­ment King Nadolo rarely trou­bled his op­po­nents, as he un­nec­es­sar­ily gave away pos­ses­sion.

Erol Ak­bay

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