The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Star Midfielder Masame Missing in Action

MOTOR ACTION manager Joey Antipas says veteran midfielder Isaac Masame will be missed when they engage Monomotapa at Rufaro tomorrow, but is hoping to be competitive. Masame will start serving his two-match suspension tomorrow after he was shown a red card by referee Nkhanyiso Moyo for violent conduct when the teams clashed just before the mid-season break.

Monomotapa won the match 1-0 and Antipas yesterday said they wanted to turn it around after a rather disappointing run that has seen them finishing the first half of the season outside the top eight.

Antipas said they were hoping for better performances in the second round matches, but expressed his disappointment over the unavailability of Masame together with defender Morris Kadzola who is also suspended after accumulating three yellow cards. Midfielder Thembani Masuku will also not take part in the game as he has not trained this week due to illness.

"We will definitely miss these guys, but I think it also gives a chance to the other players.

"I hope those who will be selected will play to the best of their abilities because we need to turn it around now. We had started on a good note, but we lost some games along the way. So we need to get these guys to believe in themselves.

"Monomotapa are a good side and it's a real challenge to us because they have won a couple of games recently, which has given them much confidence," said Antipas.

Ironically, the teams met in back-to-back fixtures last season with the first leg ending in a 0-0 stalemate, but Allen Gahadzikwa gave the Mighty Bulls maximum points when he scored a solitary strike at Callies in the return fixture.

Monomotapa will be starting life without their former coach Taurai Mangwiro who was fired during the week. His assistant George Jojo is likely to sit on the bench. Shabanie Mine coach Luke Masomere is also hoping to continue with their good showing when they host Gunners at Maglas on Sunday. Shabanie won the first leg 2-1 to consolidate their second position on the log table. Masomere has taken the good start in his stride.

"We wanted two attacking midfielders, but most of the PSL players have long term contracts with their teams and we don't have the money to buy them out.

"Otherwise I am happy with the squad that I have except for one or two players who haven't impressed me," said Masomere.

Shabanie are currently trailing log leaders Highlanders by four points in the race, but the former Masvingo United and Dynamos coach is not looking too far ahead.

"We made a good start and usually it's the people who judge. If you take part in a race and progress at your own pace, which is quite average and no one else comes faster, who should blame you when you reach the finishing line first or second although that wasn't your major aim? We are in a race and I can only promise three things to the Shabanie Mine fans.

"Firstly, I promise that they will be playing Premiership football next season.

"Secondly, we will finish on a respectable position and thirdly we will rejoice at the end of it all, unlike last season when we had to fight for survival," said Masomere.

Harare City will be travelling to Chicken Inn tomorrow.

City have had a slow start, but coach Bigboy Mawiwi will be looking to build on the positives from the first half. They went to the break on ninth position on the log table with 19 points from 15 starts.

Their run included four wins and seven draws although they are currently sitting above such big clubs like CAPS United and Motor Action.

"The break was good for us and we also aim to do better in the second half of the season like any other team.

"If you look at our performances, the players appeared to have gained more confidence in the last five games.

"I think most of these guys had no strong background in the challenges of Premiership football and lacked that self belief and we ended up having more draws than any other team," said Mawiwi.

Fixtures

Tomorrow: FC Platinum v Dynamos (Mandava), Chicken Inn v Harare City (Luveve), Monomotapa v Motor Action (Rufaro), Black Mambas v Blue Rangers (Morris Depot)

Sunday: Buffaloes v Hardbody (Sakubva), Highlanders v Quelaton (Barbourfields), Shabanie v Gunners (Maglas), Hwange v CAPS United (Colliery)

Postponed: Dynamos v FC Platinum (Rufaro)

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