HIGHLANDERS’ Dutch coach Elroy Akbay will be gunning for his maiden title in his first season as coach for the Bulawayo side when he leads his charges against Moses Chunga’s Harare City in the Zimbabwe National Army Charities Shield final at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Akbay, unveiled as the new Bosso mentor before the start of the season, has transformed the Bulawayo giants into genuine contenders for the coveted Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title.
He already has a cup finalist medal after a narrow 2-1 loss to league champions Chicken Inn in the Independence Trophy final in April and ZNA Charities Shield gives Akbay a second bite of the cherry as he bids to open his winners’ medal account in local football.
He acknowledges that it’s a chance for Highlanders to win a cup tournament after the Independence Trophy disappointment.
“We have a chance to win this cup, but Harare City is not an easy side to beat. They are a very good team, but we have to go for a win just like in any other game that we play.
It’s still the same in terms of injuries. Benson [Phiri] and Honest [Moyo] are injured, Rahman [Kutsanzira] is out and Bruce [Kangwa] is gone, that means three or four key players are still out,” Akbay said.
While Akbay is fretting over his depleted side, the May Coach of the Month will draw inspiration from last week’s big win over CAPS United with an equally understrength side.
However, he faces an astute opponent in Chunga, who says his side will be equal to the task when they clash with Highlanders in a final that guarantees the winners
$12 000 and $8 000 to the losers.
“It is just about belief. We want to perform well. I joined Harare City when they were already in the final of that cup and we just have to keep the momentum. What we need to do is to take our chances and everything else will follow. We are geared up to the task,” Chunga said.
He said only Jimmy Tigere was not available for this afternoon’s final.
Martin Vengesai, Ronald Chitiyo and Francisco Zekumbawire could carry the day for the Sunshine City Boys this afternoon.
Highlanders will come into the game with a number of their players such as Phiri, Moyo and Kutsanzira not available due to injury.
The in-form Kangwa is in Tanzania for a week-long trial stint with Azam FC.
With Knox Mutizwa also having joined South Africa’s Bidvest Wits, Highlanders will have to make do with Gabriel Nyoni and Prince Dube in attack.
Captain Felix Chindungwe bounces back after missing the league game against CAPS United last Sunday as he had accumulated three yellow cards.
Five army charitable organisations, the Patients Welfare Fund, Benevolent Fund, Schools Welfare Trust Fund, Tsanga Lodge Convalescence Centre and the Widows and Orphans Fund benefit from the proceeds from the ZNA Charities Shield tournament. The army is expecting to raise $25 000 from the match.