Highlanders striker prob­lems

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo

HIGHLANDERS’ striker Gabriel Ny­oni has been ruled out for the rest of the sea­son fol­low­ing a ham­string in­jury picked up dur­ing Bosso’s friendly against Chicken Inn on Satur­day.

Bosso drew 1-1 against the de­fend­ing league cham­pi­ons, with Brian Banda scor­ing for Highlanders, while the Game­cocks equalised through Moses De­mera.

Bosso coach Erol Ak­bay said Ny­oni’s un­avail­abil­ity for the re­main­ing two Cas­tle Lager Premier Soc­cer League games against FC Plat­inum and Hwange is a blow to his side, which al­ready has striker Nh­lanhla Ndlovu on the in­jury list.

“Things are not good for us be­cause Gabriel picked a ham­string in­jury against Chicken Inn and with Nh­lanhla al­ready out be­cause of an in­jury; we don’t have many strik­ers in our team. We must do with the play­ers we have and see how things turn up. Of late God­frey (Makaruse) has been do­ing well and we’ll see if we can use him in that role which Gabr i e l played,” sa id Ak­bay. He will have to tin­ker with his at­tack­ing op­tions and might be forced to start vet­eran for­ward Ralph Matema, who has got ac­cus­tomed to com­ing from the bench. Matema is likely to part­ner Prince Dube. An­other striker who has seen lit­tle ac­tion in the sec­ond half of the sea­son Kasimero Chim­badzwa might also get a chance in these clos­ing stages of the cam­paign. The other op­tion for Bosso would be to keep Matema on the bench and play with Dube as a lone striker be ing sup­ported by five mid­field­ers. The abil­ity to score by Highlanders’ mid­field­ers might tempt Ak­bay to change his style go­ing into the FC Plat­inum game. “We had a good train­ing game against Chicken Inn be­cause it gave us time to change the style, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half. In the first half we made many mis­takes, giv­ing Chicken Inn too much space. We changed things in the sec­ond half and we be­gan to cre­ate chances, mean­ing we have to work on tak­ing up our chances as well as cor­rect­ing our de­fen­sive mis­takes,” said Ak­bay. The Dutch­man said the FC Plat­inum game is a must-win and hoped log lead­ers Caps United ei­ther lose or draw against Ngezi Plat­inum Stars. Caps United are on 57 points, two ahead of sec­ond-placed FC Plat­inum and four above Highlanders, who are third.

Caps United will be crowned cham­pi­ons if they beat Ngezi Plat­inum Stars and Highlanders hold or beat FC Plat­inum at Man­dava Sta­dium this Satur­day.

Highlanders’ hopes of creep­ing back into the ti­tle race solely de­pends on Ngezi Plat­inum pulling a shocker by stop­ping Caps United, while they beat FC Plat­inum.

Ngezi Plat­inum may turn out to be king­mak­ers be­cause FC Plat­inum will also be pray­ing that the Chibuku Su­per Cup cham­pi­ons beat Caps United.

It won’t be easy for Highlanders as FC Plat­inum are also keen on max­i­mum points to keep their cham­pi­onship hopes alive. A vic­tory for the plat­inum min­ers and a loss for Caps United will take them to the top of the ta­ble.

Gabriel Ny­oni

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